Oh adolescents, a mystery from he beginning of time. But why are adults so complexed by teens when they were once teens themselves? The world may never know. However, a few things can be said about how people miss understand them.
I am called to youth ministry, which means God as chosen me to show His love and teach teenagers. I will say, as I am still a teen myself (19 years old, if that counts in your opinion) I am not an expert. But the way I see it is that with being between the two age groups, I can understand these misconceptions and speak on them.
So the following statements are misconceptions about teenager (especially the American teen) that most adults seem to believe- even if they don’t vocalize it, it can be felt or implied. If this was changed, I believe so many things would change for the better; not just for the teen but for everyone.
1. They are children.
Well, they are, but they aren’t. Teens still have a lot of learning to do, they make a lot of mistakes and act immature often. But we should not treat them like kids. Sometimes we question why teens act like kids years after they hit the big 13, but do we ever analyze how we treat them? And no. being harder on your teen does not mean you are treating them less like a kid. It makes the teen feel more discouraged from maturing. Why not instead of yelling, encourage? Why not show them what it means to be mature instead of expecting them to figure it out on their own?
2. They have all the time in the world.
In today’s world, most teens are just as busy as adults. We often tell teens to do things, especially in the church, and expect them to be able to do it in all their “free time”. When in reality, there is not much free time for many teens. Between school, sports, extracurricular, church, clubs, volunteering etc. there isn’t much more time. When I was in high school, I didn’t get home until 9 o’clock most nights, and that is without spending time with friends.
3. They can’t dedicate to anything.
Sure, teens often have fleeting passions, but with the right guidance, teens have so much potential. If teens stepped up to the plate and give it their all, they can do amazing things with the passion they have. In their book Do Hard Things, the Harris twins encourage teens to challenge the low expectations upon them, and the results are amazing.
So next time you are talking to a group of teens, keep this in mind, and they might surprise you! Take them under your wing, mentor them spiritually, and you will see a side of them they don’t let most see.
The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.