The Teen Years
Mediocrity. Apathy. Disengaged.
These are the norms for young people. I see it everywhere, including in my own home. There is this subtle change that takes place as kids transition away from childhood into teenhood. Have we created this? How can we stop it and turn it around? These years from 11 or 12 to college are full of life, ideas, fun and an idealistic notion of invincibility. Why then, do most of these young people squander this time with unimportant and trivial things? Why are only a handful taking hold of these amazing years and doing something with them to glorify God and further his kingdom?
I truly believe kids are much too spoiled these days. We have so many toys in our home. It can take an hour to clean it all up. No one cares about the toys because they assume they can just be replaced if they break or are left in the rain or the dog chews them up. And rightly so. It seems that as soon as they are old enough to understand what Target is, they also realize that a quick trip there will secure a new toy to replace the old. Not only that but the advertising execs for every toy company out there knows this secret: change a toy just slightly, add a bonus to the toy or bring out the next series, and all the toys at home will be forgotten and left to rot for want of the new toy. Put out an exciting new commercial with said toy doing something completely impossible, and every kid on the block is vying for the latest and greatest plastic doohickey.
Another issue I see facing my children is my own inconsistency. I take away a toy or privilege because of some infraction only to cave a few days into it for the sake of convenience or, plain and simple, I forget I handed out the discipline in the first place. And, certainly, no child with even a small portion of smarts is going to help mom out by reminding me I took something away to begin with. So, in my own human fallibility, I add to the mediocrity and apathy of the teenage years.
Is there an answer? Is there possibly, just possibly, a way to avoid these feelings in our children, or at the very least give them some tools to fight them when they crop up? I know I can tell my kids to do their best for the Lord and that what they do now determines what kind of adults they’ll be. I do tell them, but is it enough? There must be some way to encourage them and therefore encourage me.
There are times when I feel as though it’s hopeless, but yet the Lord always meets me there and reminds me that there is always hope when we hope in Him. I remember my mom telling me her favorite years with my sister and I were our teenage years. I see the youth in church and am so impressed with their maturity and their willingness to step out for the Lord in big ways. I see them facing the possibility of scorn from friends and not being ashamed. I see them taking weeks out of their summer breaks to go on mission trips instead of sit home watching their favorite shows or texting with their friends. So there is hope. And I don’t think it has to be rare. I don’t believe it has to be 1 out of 1000 that makes a difference during these teen years.
I’m not sure what the complete answer is yet. I must say, I’m fully looking forward to the seminar at MACHE titled, “Who are you and what have you done with my child?” I do know this: prayer changes things, lots of things. So, I’ll start there. Praying for my boys as they become teens and then young men to have a passion and internal drive placed there by the Holy Spirit. And praying for myself, that I would have wisdom and strength to guide and direct and step out of the way when I should.
Thank the Lord that we’re never left alone to fight these battles. I am hopeful that I can say the same as my mom that the teen years were my favorite with my kids!