Featured in the November, 2016 Issue of the Ashburn Baptist News
Adolescence is not a disease but a normal condition. It is the transition from childhood to adulthood.
The hitch is the word “transition”. The teen is not sure if he is a child or an adult. Having abandoned childhood and not yet having arrived at adulthood, he finds the transition scary.
The solution for the parents is to forget his age and treat him like a fellow human being. A teen wants all the privileges of adulthood without any of its responsibilities. The parent should lovingly, but firmly, allow the privileges to be enjoyed only as the responsibilities are assumed.
No young person has a right to a car he did not buy, to money he has not earned, to make his own rules when he’s not living under his own roof. Independence has to be earned, the price is irksome.
Some teens feel that money is free, that peers are more important than parents, that everyone over 30 is old, and that he has the solution to the world’s problems even though he doesn’t have the solution to his own. Often, this adolescent foolishness is aided and abetted by parents who themselves may not have reached acceptable maturity.
Uncounted thousands of teenagers pass through these years without any trouble. They do not rebel against parents, drop out of school, smoke pot, get drunk, freak out on dope, roam the streets, dress crazy, or need birth control advice because they do not engage in sex before marriage. The notion that every teen is problem-laden and makes havoc at home and school is foolishness. Trouble from teens should neither be expected nor tolerated.
The Bible presents a parade of Davids, Daniels and Timothys, teens who loved God and lived for Him. A young person can have a clean life by following God’s word (Psalm 119:9). John the Apostle writes to young men who have overcome the Devil (I John 2:13). Youth is the time to remember God and live for Him (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
Good parents help a youngster in his childhood-to-adulthood transition by having a specific plan which should include the following:
- A teen should do household chores without pay. These tasks remind him he is a member of a family and that there is work in maintaining a household.
- He should have a paying part-time job. How can he be prepared for the work world if he does not know what work is or how to relate to a boss and fellow employees?
- He should be required to save 10% of all he earns. That 10% saved and invested will make him a millionaire. Now, he can support you in your old age because you didn’t start saving 10% of all you earned from the time you began working.
- He should be expected to walk or bicycle almost every place he goes. Few teenagers need cars. His walking is good for his physical health and for your mental health. Cars bring loads of problems.
- There should be a curfew. No matter how old we get we are always responsible to others.
- Young people should have chaperons (the word is still in the dictionary). Can you think of a teen problem that would have occurred if the young person would have been adequately supervised? You say a chaperon is embarrassing for a teen. I’m saying the things he does when he is not chaperoned are embarrassing for the parent and, since no matter what we do someone is going to embarrassed, I would just as soon it is the young person.
Perhaps the greatest problem with adolescence is that for some people it continues into the 20’s, 30’s and even the 40’s. It is painful to see an irresponsible person with a teen mentality still trying to make his transition into responsible adulthood.
Some Christians tend to experience a never-ending spiritual adolescence. They are suspicious of older Christians, reluctant to leave worldly toys, hesitant to settle down to responsible Christian conduct, arguing about trivialities, and clamoring for milk when they ought to be on meat. But, back to the real adolescence.
Perhaps one of our problems is that we are label-hangers. Everybody has to be classified. You are a toddler, a pre-adolescent, a teen, a mid-adult, a senior citizen; nevertheless, each adolescent is simply a person, Why not treat him that way. Don’t you want to be accepted as you are, commended, loved, listened to, respected, trusted and told the truth? So, does the teen.
Never treat a teen as a problem, but always as a person. Adolescence is not a disease!