Several years ago the movie "Thirteen" was about a young lady coming of age from being a little girl to becoming a teen. The movie was controversial but looking at it from a Youth Pastor or Parental view, it was and is very enlightening. Children grow up so quickly and sometimes they want to be a young adult before they are ready spiritually, physically (although their bodies may 'show' they are ready), mentally, and emotionally.
Paul Tripp in his book "Age of Opportunity" says that in the first seven chapters of Proverbs that there is a biblical perspective on the struggles facing our students and this generation of cultural teens.
- Adolescents have no hunger for wisdom or correction. He let's face it they think they are right and much wiser than they really are, and most believe they know MORE than their parents.
- They have a tendency towards legalism. They tend to emphasize the letter of the law rather than the spirit. Teens trend to push at the fences you have in place and tell you that they are still in the yard.
- They have a tendency to be unwise in their choice of companions. Let's face it there are some students that your child should NOT hang out with. Your student and their friends are good kids but when they get together, trouble. My wife's grand father used to say this along these lines. "When you have a boy you got a boy, when you have 2 boys, you have half a boy; when you have 3 boys, you have nothing but trouble!" Some good church kids just can not be together without being in trouble.
- Our culture is a sex charged culture and your students are right in the middle of it being tempted with these new feelings that they have not had before. What do you do with them when you used to not feel this way?
- Students do not live with eternity in mind. Students live in the now. They want instant gratification. They are micro-wave than a slow cooker. They want what they want and they want it now.
- They tend to lack a heart of awareness of what they really need or want. Students are wondering about the big wild world that is just outside their doors and how they will function in it.
Too many times we move our kids, students and youth to the margins and do not give them an outlet to express themselves. They will find a way to express themselves. If they do not have a chance to share their stories of life they will ramp it up in destructive behavior of some kind. This includes 'good church kids' as well.
I believe that we have to give students responsibilities along with consequences for not being responsible for the things we both have agreed to. You have to allow them to fail, to grow, to expand, to be safe and yet not back down when the conflict comes. Read the Bible as a family, as unit, allow them to lead, to read, to pray and share their hearts in a safe environment. Talk to your student and not at them. Make sure you continue to have places of conversation without judgement when you can.
Read the Bible as a parent in Deuteronomy 6 for your mandate and then read the first seven chapters of Proverbs to better understand your student. Do this and you won't have to ask, "Where in the Word do I find that?"