What Mistakes Do We Make With Teens?
Pastor Jeff Strong wrote an article listing the Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make. Follow the link for the complete article, but here is the lists:
- Not spending time with your teen.
- Letting your teen’s activities take top priority for your family.
- Spoiling your teen.
- Permissive parenting.
- Trying to be your teen’s best friend.
- Holding low expectations for your teen.
- Not prioritizing youth group/church involvement.
- Outsourcing your teen’s spiritual formation.
- Not expressing genuine love and like to your teen.
- Expecting your teen to have a devotion to God that you are not
cultivating within yourself.
Many parents think that their teens do not want to spend time with them and they may even say they don’t, but Strong says that they really do. Your teen’s activities should not trump family time. Baby booming parents who lacked all of the luxuries of life often go overboard with providing superabundance for their children. You need to be a parent and not a best friend to your child. Expect much from a person and he will usually achieve that. Parents must take the primary responsibility in their teen’s spiritual formation and should not expect them to have a devotion to God that you personally are not pursuing. Of course, you should express your love for your teens to them.
Part of taking responsibility for your teen’s spiritual development would include being involved in a church as well as making that a priority in your family life. Many churches separate age groups much too often and too much. Strong’s view of Youth Groups is very typical of the church today. I have been involved in and have known of other churches that do not have Youth Groups. Christian young people are in training and become involved under the leadership of more mature adults. In my experience these teens and young adults are more mature than many in our society. One thing that Pastor Strong did not address is that some of the teens of Christian parents are not believers. While standards of conduct must be taught to all of our children of all ages, those who do not profess to be believers will not take part in the “on the job training” in the church. Remembering that salvation is of the Lord, Christian parents must continue to pray for their children’s salvation, live the Christian life before them, and love them.
What Are the Causes?
I interviewed some mothers who are part of the kind of church I described above.
These were my questions:
Social scientists observe that the period of adolescence (between puberty and the time when individuals enter the adult world with all of its responsibilities) has extended from around three years to up to 15 years. They don’t necessarily offer reasons why this change, but I believe that part of the solution is knowing the causes. What do you think is the cause?
- Why do young people go through puberty (onset of adolescence) many years earlier now than a century ago?
In a recent teleconference, Young Living Essential Oils users offered the use of synthetic, chemical based personal products such as lotions and perfumes as a cause. In their experience they have observed this.
Does your personal experience match this? What other causes do you offer?
- I believe it is in our foods and our environment that grow people very differently.
- I think you are correct in the phytoestrogens and endocrine disrupters that our environment is rife with being a factor. I also think just the stimulation of imagery all around us possibly also being a factor.
- Puberty begins earlier due to hormones in our food. My observations have been that the children of friends who eat a typical modern diet (fast food and processed food) mature physically faster. Those whose parents prepare homemade, healthy meals have a later onset of puberty. This would be similar to the thoughts prescribed by YLEO regarding added chemicals.
- What family-raising activities / styles affect the time span of adolescence (the completion of adolescence)? Can the following affect the change?
- Christian family?
- Homeschooling vs. Private School vs. Public School?
- Children are given responsibilities, beginning at an early age and grow as they mature?
- Family industries consider each family member as a part of the successful operation?
- Other possible causes?
- The old nature vs. nurture question comes to mind! I think there are many factors involved in the span of adolescence. Each of the experiences you listed definitely make an impact. As a Christian family, we chose to protect our children’s innocence as long as possible. That was easy when we had small children. Once the older children came in the know of more worldly things then the younger children were exposed to these things at a younger age than the first. I do not know yet what kind of impact this will have on their adolescence as they are still children. : ) I think homeschooling can go both ways. I know some parents who are still micromanaging adult children in their 20s and parents who want their 10 year old son to be an entrepreneur and managing his own business. What my first born was capable of doing at age 13 is far different than what my 13 year old today does. Is that birth order, lack of parental training, personality of the child? Who knows? God, and I rest in that!
Our parenting philosophy was to raise independent adults. When my husband cut our first child’s cord I made the comment, “There goes the first apron string.” We never spoke baby talk to our children, we didn’t use a limited vocabulary, we didn’t read children’s Bibles in family devotions. All family discussions were on an adult level. Our children were welcome to be part of adult conversations. So far, most of my adult aged children are adults. Things are different now that I am a widow and am raising them alone. I don’t have the time or energy to put into the younger ones like I did with the older ones. It will be interesting to see how they turn out. God, alone, knows who they will become. My responsibility is to point them to the cross, while remaining on bended knee.
Some other thoughts: the term teenager does not appear in scripture or in literature until the 1940s or 1950s. I think it is a Madison Avenue word for marketing purposes. Children and adults were not enough for sales. Today we have such a marketing culture to tweens, teens and young adults. The sad thing is that many middle and older adults have not gotten past their young adulthood. It’s like 18 to 25 is the magic age to remain forever. This makes a great impact on our society.
- As far as adolescence, I would add birth order to your list of factors. First borns tend to be far more responsible in at least a home school setting, where younger kids historically are not required as much of in any setting.
- A Christian family would tend to instill thinking of others first, like Christ. b. I believe all forms of school have their problems. You can’t totally shield your children from the world; if you do…it might be from fear. c. I do believe as soon as a child can walk, they can help with responsibilities and they know in the beginning what is expected and how to prepare for life. d. Absolutely each member is important! We are reflections of each other and we each have strengths maybe another member does not have. e. I always think that if one had to live in a box, they would figure out a way to sin. Without Christ we are paralyzed and unable to sin less.
Thanks to each of you ladies for your input.
Disclaimer: Pastor Jeff Strong mentioned in his article, “The Emerging Church.” I encourage you to read or listen to Dr. John MacArthur’s information about this movement.
Emerging Church – Grace to You – John MacArthur explains and tells what is wrong with the Emerging Church: http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/gty107