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What a Teen Needs

     Whether you have a teenager living in your home or just come in contact with one on a regular basis, this article is a must read for you! 

     You see, at the core, today's teens are really no different than the past decades . . . sure . . . we can think of how "we were more responsible" or how "we would’ve never thought to have talked back to our teacher, parent, or authority figure . . .  in such a way;"  however, when we REALLY get down to the BARE BONES of what today's American teen is truly looking for, it's not so much different than what we all want.

     1) A PLACE - Though most teens will not come out and say it, it is important for them to know that they have a place in their worlds, their communities,  their schools and their homes.

     Don't you like it when you feel you belong?  Think about how lonely it feels when you go somewhere and you're the odd man out.  It's uncomfortable because you don't really feel like you fit.

     Teens just want to feel they fit, and if you remember correctly: the pimples, change in body and feelings, and reminders from adults that "you're not a kid anymore, and you need to grow up," certainly make it difficult for any teen to know where he/she fits.
     "If I play with kid toys and watch kid movies I'll look like a dork, but I don't feel grown up yet either."  It's a tough spot, and many teens have a difficult time communicating these feelings outside of their weekly outbursts and tantrums.  BE PATIENT!!!

     2) A PURPOSE - Isn't it nice when you accomplish something and can feel the purpose behind what you've done?  I know that I love it.  Something as small as cooking for my family makes me feel good - knowing that we've had dinner together at the table, and we ate something yummy.

      My purpose was to bring the family together and I did! That can be tough sometimes with all the different schedules.  So, why wouldn't a teen want to feel that his/her life has purpose too?  Now, don't be disillusioned into thinking that they are going to come up to you and say, "You know Mom, I really wish I knew what my purpose was on this Earth."  Why?  Because research shows that the teenagers brain connections look about the same as when going through their baby years.  I'm not kidding you.  Look it up!!!  It is so fascinating!

     Teenagers want what they want and they want it NOW!  But let's be honest, can we blame them?  We live in a society where meals can be completed in the microwave in less than 10 minutes, messages can be sent to someone hundreds of miles away instantly, commercials can be changed by the push of a button, and research can be completed with one Wikipedia explanation.  No wonder these teens expect us to move and meet their every whim at the speed of light.  (It's hard to find your purpose in all of that chaos.)  

     Now of course, I'm not making excuses . . . we need to TRAIN these teens how to slow down and hear from God as to what their purpose is.  The way to do that?  Slow down yourself and make time to teach being in the Word of God and praying for guidance.  Constantly direct our teens back to Christ.  BE THE CHANGE THAT YOU WANT TO SEE!!!

     3) A PAT ON THE BACK - Now that my son is going through some changes, I've taken a lot of time in prayer, but also seeking godly wisdom from parents who have passed through this season of life.  (Remember, it is just a season.)  The three pieces of advice that I consistently hear are:

  • BE FIRM (so the teen knows where the boundaries are)
  • BE CONSISTENT (so the teen knows that the boundaries and your love are not going to change or move)
  • BE ENCOURAGING. That last one is what I hear most.  ENCOURAGE!  ENCOUARGE!  ENCOUARAGE!

     You may say, "But you don't understand what I'm going through?" "My teen ________________ (fill in the blank with your situation).  You are right!  I cannot possibly understand your situation, but God does.  Think about the detours we've taken in life - though God corrects, He also encourages us to do better.  He doesn't remind us of all our failures. 

    I didn't say giving encouragement was going to be easy, but look at it like this.  Encouragement is oxygen to the teenager.  To any of us really.  Just because it takes work to hook up an oxygen tank, you wouldn't begrudge someone of that oxygen would you?  Of course not.  You'd gladly order the tank, the tubing, the refills, and help that person hook everything up so that they could breathe a little easier and live a little longer. 

     Encouraging a seemingly ungrateful teen is work, but there is no other way.  If you truly want your teen to thrive (and it may take some time before you visibly see the results) breathe life into that teen.  BREATHE ENCOURAGEMENT!!!

    The American Teen may be difficult to understand.  The one thing we can be sure of is that God can give us the grace to endure and see the promise of His expected plans for their lives!

Copyright © 2008-2015 Cindy Aitken

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