Teenage challenges

God has been merciful to us in that we are almost through with handling teenagers in our family. At the time of writing there are only two boys left in the family who are still in their teens.

John Makumbe
John Makumbe

For some families, this is a trying time as teenagers tend to be viewed as rebellious

against authority as they vacillate between being little children and being adults. Teenagers are faced with many challenges as well as changes. They begin to examine their self-esteem, their values, aims and attitudes. They are faced with many questions, and in this instalment we briefly discuss only two of these.

The first question that teenagers face is, “Who am I?” Teenagers often suffer a crisis of identity. The question is not simply, “Am I a child or an adult?” but rather, “Who am I?” and “What sort of person am I becoming?” In their search for meaning and value, adolescents are trying to discover what life is all about. We should allow ourselves to be stimulated and challenged by their quest.

As parents we also need to assure them that they are special and significant, made in the image of God. David, the psalmist wrote some of his psalms when he was still a teenager. He was honest about his questions and confusion in his search for the truth. He knew, however, that God was his Creator and loved him. This a good place to start with our young people.

In our family, we are going through the whole of Psalms during our daily devotional sessions after dinner. We challenge you to do the same for the sake of your teenage children. You will be amazed by what God can do to instil an understanding in your teenagers. We can help them to understand, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful (Psalm 139:14).

The next question that teenagers may ask is “What is my future?” Teenagers are probably more anxious about the future than they care to admit. “What will I do?” “What will become of me?” “Will I get a qualification?” “A job?” “Will I get married?”

For the teenager, the world is a confusing and troubled place and our young people are asking if there is any future to look forward to. This is a wonderful opportunity to tell them again that our God knows the end from the beginning. History is His story. We can encourage them to trust God with all their tomorrows and ask Him to help them to discover their part in His amazing plan.

As the plan unfolds, there are fresh challenges in every day. Teenage years are the times to discover and develop gifts. We can help our young people to find out what they are good at and encourage them to try new things and make the best of opportunities to learn and grow.

They may also need help as they begin to relate on new levels to siblings, teachers and friends. They may clash from time to time with figures of authority and have to cope with unfairness and injustice. Whatever new experiences your teenage child is going through, good or bad, seize them as opportunities to learn and mature. With your guiding hand these can be great years together.

A teenager is a young person growing through one of the most joyful and exciting stages of life. As parents we can choose to focus on the possibilities, the hope and the wonder of the teenage years rather than the problems, real though they may be.

Embark on this journey with them. Re-discover that we are all God’s special, made in His image, unique, valuable, and full of amazing potential. The Lord loves teenagers – He was one Himself. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who will be with them every step of the way.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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