“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (I Corinthians 13:11).
We have renamed the “Junior” Sunday School literature and now call it “Pre–Teen” for a reason. The reason is that these children are maturing physically earlier then they did before — maybe due to the hormones and other chemicals in their food. I do know they are seeing and experiencing things formally reserved only for adulthood. Adolescence is now happening “pre-teen.”
Adolescence is the period of time when a child is not a child and yet is not an adult. Neither fish nor fowl, our adolescents are in a no-man’s land — many hurting themselves and their future.
Bill Graves, in an article I once read, called adolescence a time of ‘turbulent transition’. He highlighted one of the greatest problems I see with our adolescents in America today, “Granted far too much freedom, many middle school children master the prerequisites of failure.” We have high expectations for adults and make allowances for children, but withdraw from our young teen-agers allowing them to blunder their way toward adulthood.
What about adolescence? How does a child become an adult? It does not happen suddenly and it is not easy. One moment they may act mature and secure, and the next very childish and insecure. Just because they may look mature does not mean they are!
We are walking away from our adolescents before they have the self-discipline to control their impulses. We are letting them come home to empty, unsupervised houses. They get together away from adult supervision and they are hurting themselves—many times for life. They are getting hooked on tobacco, alcohol, hard drugs and experimenting with sex.
Parents are taking off all restraints and control far too early. Parental involvement falls off sharply after the primary grades. As principal of an elementary school; when a first grade class had a little program, I would bring in dozens of chairs for all of the parents, grandparents, uncles and neighbors. When the fifth grade had a function however, we might have had five or six parents come to it. The middle schools now have so few showing up at their programs it is embarrassing and discouraging. Why?
When asked, many parents told me it was because their young person did not seem to want them around. This is more reason to stay involved.
When the adolescent disobeys and rebels it takes so much energy and stress to impose the consequences that many parents are walking away. Parents are letting them have their way rather than confronting them.
If your child ever needed your structure and discipline it is during this turbulent transition. If there is ever a time when you need to stand firm for right, Christian values and high standards, it is during this time. You should know what they are doing, where they are, and whom they are with—at all times.
Do not be surprised when your young teenager attempts to push you away; but don’t move away. Don’t be surprised when he tries to push back your rules and push out his boundaries. When this happens put pads on the walls—don’t move the walls. Be there to pick him up when he bounces off the walls of family authority and hurts himself. Be there for him. Do him a favor. Impose the consequences every time he breaks through the wall. Over his screams of, “I am not a little child any more!”, repair the boundary and put him back in.
Release him slowly from your parental authority; and only as he proves he is able to assume the responsibility and take the consequences. Your child should be given the right to make most of his own decisions only in his latter teen age years.
Parents, stay involved with your adolescent.
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