The next time you walk down the street, try not to ignore eye contact with that scary-looking teenager. Yes, his pants fall below the knees. Yes, your hair could be tousled. Why he has that nose piercing, only he knows. Look at it. Look him in the eye for a minute. You can probably see that coldness. You can see that something is missing. You have a longing for something, a relationship maybe? Someone to trust? Someone to trust? A true friend? A mentor? Just a shoulder to lean on or an ear to talk to?
Teenagers have a hard time trying to get the image right. They want to be in control of their lives, they want to make their own decisions, they want to be invincible, but more than anything they want to be accepted.
Raising children with these ideals can be quite difficult. Obviously, a fourteen-year-old cannot be in control of his own life. You cannot be allowed to hang out at all hours of the night, you cannot participate in sexual activities, you cannot get involved in gangs, you cannot smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. It would be foolish for a parent to allow a teenager to have control of their own life.
However, it is possible for a parent to help their teenager learn to make their own decisions. Not only will this help them prepare for adulthood, it will make them feel less like a little boy and more like a grown man. It is important to allow our teens some room to grow. The types of choices teens should be allowed include, but are certainly not limited to the following: Their career goals, whether or not to seek employment while at school, what leisure activities to engage in, whether or not to have a job bank account, whether or not to obtain a learner’s permit / driver’s license, what volunteer opportunities to participate in, etc.
As for boys being invincible, you can laugh if you want, but if you’ve been with a lot of teenage boys, you know exactly what I’m talking about. As the founder of a ranch for troubled teens, I frequently speak to parents who would use it as one of many adjectives to describe their children. When children reach this state of mind, others may be in danger. Sometimes children feel that they are too old or too old to be disciplined. They feel like they can stay out all night and no one will hurt them. They feel like they can say or do anything to whoever they want and no one will stop them.
It is essential that parents spend as much time as possible with their teens. During their interactions, they need to talk with them about difficult life lessons they had to learn as teenagers or that others they know may have had to learn the hard way. When a child refuses to heed the warnings that have been given and attacks as family members and ignores the rules, refuses to go to school, puts others in danger, etc., then a parent has no no choice but to discipline him, regardless. of the child’s feelings about that discipline.
Most students referred to our at-risk boarding school are referred after their parents have already tried secular counseling programs, mind-altering medications, intervention by school personnel, sometimes even psychiatric hospitalizations, all of which they did not help their son. absolutely. Often times, what we learn shortly after talking to parents or after enrolling children that parents have trouble controlling is that at some point the parents developed a fear of disciplining their child, whether that fear was a Fear of the child / adolescent hurting them, fear of getting into legal trouble for disciplining them, or fear of what others would say about them varies from case to case. However, adolescents who are not disciplined for a period of time will develop behavior problems that are out of control and if the parents do not seek help at that time, the child may end up in jail or worse, without the parents having to voice so on the matter.
My advice to parents of troubled teens is as follows: 1) spend as much time as you can with them, even when you don’t want to or they don’t want you to; 2) give them room to make some decisions for their lives (safe decisions); 3) congratulate your child as often as possible; 4) discipline your child when necessary, and be consistent with the form of discipline you choose to use; and 5) getting him to use as much of the energy that God has given him as possible, whether it’s making him play sports, help tend to the lawn, animals or work on other tasks, participate in a daily exercise routine, etc., but do not allow him to spend all his free time sitting, watching television, listening to music or talking / texting on the cell phone. That will allow your energy level to build up and eventually release it, in ways that are not manageable.