Tending the Hearts of Our Teens

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Of late, I have received much correspondence, from mothers who are struggling, asking how to tend to the hearts of our teenagers against the temptations and influences of the secular, modern world. Some of my thoughts are as follows:

If an older child is exhibiting a disrespectful or disobedient attitude, this is a clear sign that he needs more time with you, not less! It is an erroneous message (of the world) which says that our teenagers need “freedom” (interpreted as: unsupervised activity) and “wings to fly”. These last years in your home are your last opportunities to have the strongest influence in this young life. Your child’s soul is growing and stretching, and his intellectual and emotional state is often turbulent and vulnerable at this juncture. Does it really make sense to repeatedly send him off to be in
situations that he is almost ready for-but not quite; and leave them to the subtle influences of their peers or other adults who might be more liberal in their beliefs and less strong in their convictions? An occasional outing or event might be beneficial, but continuous exposure to these outside pressures, with less time around those he needs the most can backfire much quicker than you imagine and in ways you do not expect! An older child, by his mid-teens, should be well on the way to acting like a godly young man. If this is not the case, then more time spent in the company and under the supervision of his parents is warranted. Use this time to come alongside your teen, engage in worthwhile discussions, and (more importantly) make it clear that the only behavior/attitude which will be accepted is that which is polite, honorable, and respectful.

Teens are more content to be at home and with their family than we realize! Many times, we mothers feel a “pull” or a “nagging sensation” that tells us we are not providing enough experience, interactions, or educational supplements for our teens. We begin to doubt whether what we’ve given in our homeschooling and family life has been sufficient and we fear that our teen is feeling isolated, caged-in, or deprived of social or world events. The Lord has shown me, more than once, that this is usually a parent’s issue, not a teen’s. Most teenagers (especially those who’ve had the privilege of an education at home) are content and happy contributing to the family, enjoying company with other families, and spending time with parents, siblings, alone, and in their church community. It is pressure from extended family members, coworkers, or something within ourselves that tells us that these things are not enough— when in fact, all that our young people need, for the glory of God and their own good health, joy, and well-being can be found at home! (Doing jobs for neighbors, serving the needy, or helping at church activities are good sources of outside interaction
that, when chosen wisely, will benefit, not undermine the foundation you are trying to build for your teen at home).

Teens need down time and alone time. We live in a world where activity never ceases, the pace always increases, and a plethora of sights, sounds, images, and advertisements and other outside stimulation constantly beckons and competes for our attention. We have even fooled ourselves into thinking that being still and quiet is unproductive, and a waste of time! Not only is that not true but it is crucial to have time to simply “be” rather than “do” if we ever hope to hear God’s voice in our hearts to discern His will in our lives.

So, too, for your teenager!

Studies have shown that young people are actually losing the ability to “imagine” because all of the “imagining” is done for them in movies, tv, computer games, etc… “Be still and know that He is God”. (Psalms 46:10) As parents, we are obligated to provide the best of care for our children in order for them to grow up secure, healthy, enriched, independent, and ready to live a godly life on their own. How then, can your teen ever come to the Lord God and develop his own personal relationship with Him if he never has time to sit quietly in His presence and rest in His peace? Encouraging our teens to meditate, to take a walk, write some thoughts down in a journal, compose a prayer or poem, spend time dreaming and thinking and wondering about the great mysteries of life…These things will not only nurture our children’s spirit but will help them learn that they are never really alone in life for their Father in Heaven is always with them! Time without noise, without electronics, without chatter or a busy schedule is an essential component to helping your teen develop his whole person: body, mind, and soul.

Pray with and for your teen, today!

Copyright 2012 Judy Dudich

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