By Trace Embry
I speak regularly to parents about the self injurious behavior (SIB) phenomenon happening amidst our teenage population.
Some teens are exploring dark ways to induce self harm, a more common form in today’s youth culture is cutting. How can parents address this problem in their home? Find out in today’s discussion.
In speaking to parents, professors, and professionals in various fields; I’ve presented an answer as to why teens are cutting, and this particular answer transcends the common emotional, philosophical, and psychological discussions.
Self Injurious Behavior is Spiritual
Despite what many may think, the root of this issue is actually spiritual.
Deep within the spiritual nature of every human being are the attributes of God. It is our sinful fallen carnal nature that has a tendency to rebel against the deeper part of what we are– the spiritual nature with all of God’s attributes.
To the degree that the “flesh” or the carnal nature of what we are, walks out of step with the spiritual nature of what we are, we live in emotional turmoil. Too many young people are totally out of step with their spiritual nature.
Consequently, the ultimate reason kids are cutting on themselves is this – they are attempting to atone for their own sins!
When this is brought to their attention, I have yet to have a kid tell me otherwise! That’s when I share with them that Jesus already did that for them over 2,000 years ago!
The Role of Boundaries
With that point made, lets look at the role boundaries have in the healing process in the lives of these struggling teens.
To put it in terms we may better understand, I’ll use the following analogy involving traffic lights.
The carnal side of who we are doesn’t want to stop at a red light, especially when we are in a hurry. However, if we had to vote them in or vote them out, the deeper part of who we are would vote them in.
This is because of the security that traffic lights give us. Not only us, but everyone else on the road. These are called boundaries.
If these boundaries aren’t adhered to, our tax dollars pay for people called policemen who will give us a ticket if we want to rebel against these boundaries.
Providing Boundaries for Your Teen’s SIB
Imposing boundaries on a child for illegal or immoral behavior produces security.
As a parent myself, I would rather have for my teen:
A) The short-term discomfort produced by boundaries that I, a loving parent, personally administered.
B) The long-term scars and a self-loathing view of reality my child will obtain by a lack of administered boundaries, which could inevitably lead to uncontrolled pain inflicted by a culture that doesn’t care.
Perhaps, if parents are consistent with applying boundaries in a proper way, their teen wouldn’t feel compelled to impose a warped form of justice upon himself.
Resources to Help Your Teen
In addition, I have written extensively on both cutting and boundaries. Below are some quick links for further information:
- I had the unique opportunity to interview Dr.Marv Penner, an expert in the field of self injurious behavior. I recommend his book “Hope and Healing for Kids Who Cut.”
- For a further read of SIB or cutting A Brief Understanding of Cutting and A Deeper Understanding of Cutting
- For topics on boundary development read Develop Better Boundaries for Your Teen in 3 Steps
- If your teen is struggling with self injurious behavior, the Shepherds Hill Family Coaching service can provide you with guidance and will set your family up with goals to implement within your home.
I’d like to hear your feed back and encouragement for how your home has been healed from the challenge of a teen struggling with self injurious behavior or cutting?