There has never been a more difficult time in history to be a teenager or the parent of a teen. It is even more difficult to be a Christian teen or the parent of a Christian teen.
Parents, and other adults in the lives of teens, are so busy that it tends to leave them feeling abandoned by adults, and causes insecurity in general.
Though there are many great parents, pastors, teachers, and coaches who do a wonderful job of interacting with our youth, many adults have fallen down on the responsibility to teach our teens a true sense of who they really are in the sight of God.
Teens are relying more on their peers for their advocacy, security, and protection, while putting less trust in adults in these areas. Chap Clark, Ph.D. provides compelling insight to the abandonment issues teens face in his book “Hurt 2.0.” I highly recommend this be a book every parent in today’s culture read.
Redefining Peer Pressure
Peer pressure is no longer defined as it was in the previous millennium–where teens influence other teens into doing something they wouldn’t ordinarily do–such as smoking pot or getting drunk. Peer pressure for teens today is better defined as a network of mutual self protection. Kids are trying to discover who they are in the adolescent years. They are in self-survival mode. It is difficult for a teen to resolve the “I am alone; but I am in community” area of their lives. They will create “multiple selves” to feel safe and to adapt to unfamiliar situations. They too often turn to their peers for counsel and reassurance instead of their parents or other adults.
One Solution to Abandonment
It is up to the entire church community to help resolve the confusion and insecurity within our youth. This responsibility should not fall on the youth pastor alone. We are all to be the salt and the light to the world and model Christ to others, especially to our kids. It is our responsibility as Christian adults to be involved in teaching our youth a biblical worldview. Adults will need to make a conscious effort to form and model an authoritative community for our kids. This will help them recognize how to be the unique people God created them to be, while giving them the security they are all ultimately searching for. Kids need to know that there are always concerned adults available for them – especially adults who care enough to help them grow and learn who they are in Christ.
What are some other examples of teenage abandonment, and how can adults help?