Friday, July 31, 2009

Understanding Teens

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4 NAS)

Teens On July 15, 2009, The New York Times reported the arrest of a 17 year old Manhattan teenager for the bombing of a Starbucks coffee shop at Upper East Side of New York City in May on Memorial Day, apparently modeled according to a scene from the 1999 film "Fight Club." Statements from the teenager indicated he was launching his own ‘Project Mayhem,’ a plan referred to in the movie. The teenager had bragged to friends that he was responsible for the bombing, and had started an underground fight club. He was charged with arson, criminal possession of a weapon, and criminal mischief.

As adults and parents, we may sometime not be able to understand what is going on in the minds of teenagers, and we may think being a teen today is much like when we were in our adolescence. We are however very much mistaken if we think in such a way, because the problems teenagers face today are far from what we can imagine. According to an article 'Problems Facing Teens Today' written by Keith Allen for, teens today are faced with life threatening decisions every day and they are not just about smoking, but includes crack and other strong deadly drugs. Apart from drugs, teens also face many other problems such as sex, violence, depression, drink driving and others. Even if they do not face such difficult issues, other lower level problems like lying, cheating, learning disabilities and emotional trauma can still be as deadly, and in some cases, some teens may choose to run away from the problems rather than face them squarely.

According to an article posted at on 'Running Away is Never the Answer,' “it is estimated that on any given night, there are between five hundred and one thousand homeless youth on the streets of Seattle, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and other major cities. Many of them are runaways - teens under the age of 18 who leave their home or place of legal residence without the permission of parents or a legal guardian." All these come from every social class, race, and religion, and they are usually hungry, scared, desperate, and very vulnerable to crime. The most common reason for teens to run away, according to the article, is family problems over issues such as curfew, behavior, dress code, grades, and the choice of friends. Some teens also choose to run away because of problems they are afraid to face, such as bullying at school, pregnancy, sexual orientation, alcohol and drug problems, or emotional, physical, and sexual abuse in their home, and any kind of shame which may involve parents, step parents, or other family members, making it extremely difficult for them to turn to anyone.

Such are the many problems faced by teenagers today, and regardless of faith or family background, the only thing that differentiates between the ones in trouble and the ones that are not, is the values they have learnt and adopted from the adults, the guardians and the parents, according to how they have been brought up. As Christian parents or guardians, therefore, we must always walk with God and set good examples for our young, so as to teach them godly values from the word of God. We must open up ourselves to give a listening ear to our teens, to show them love and respect for themselves and for everyone else. We must also work hard in bridging the gap between our children and us, yet without over controlling them or expecting total obedience, to strike a balance between discipline and love without provoking them to anger (Ephesians 6:4), in leading them to the right path, which direction they must eventually choose for themselves.

Father, teach us as parents and guardians to pay more attention to our teens, to listen and care for them, to love them without over-controlling them. Show us how to balance between discipline and love, to know when to instruct and when to let go. Help us bridge the gap with our teens dear Lord to understand them better and to lead them in Your path.

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