In ministering to so many kids and their families I get a lot of parents asking questions on how to raise their children. In this week’s post I’m going to spend some time answering a few questions.
One popular question that tends to be asked, and one I hope to address, is whether or not we give our teens too much freedom. I’d like to preface this question with a question of my own about the length of adolescence.
Has the Length of Adolescence Changed in the Last 100 Years?
In the 1900’s puberty peaked in kids at the age of 14 and a half. The medical and technological industry wasn’t advanced enough to give empirical evidence of when the frontal lobe of the brain was developed, but it’s apparent in what young people would accomplish back then that it could have been developed as early as the age of 16. This suggests that the period between adolescence and adulthood was only a couple of years.
In 1980 puberty began at 13 years of age. The time frame for the development of the frontal lobe was between 18–21 years old. This implies the time period of adolescence had increased by 5–8 years since the 1900’s. Today; only 30 years later, puberty starts at 11–12 years old. Scientific evidence claims the frontal lobe to be fully developed at the age of 25. So, now we are looking at an adolescence time frame of 13–14 years. However, based on the independence we allow our children and the amount they request, we still see them as grown up when they hit the teen years.
Do We Give Teens Too Much Freedom?
With the time span of adolescence increasing, we need to remember our child may have a grown up body on the outside, but many times they are still emotionally young on the inside. As parents, we need to discern what age our children are at in their emotional development, and only allow certain age appropriate privileges based on this determination. The liberty given to a teenager needs to be based on their emotional maturity, and not their chronological age. Because kids are exposed to so many negative influences today, many teens do not have the moral standards as kids did in the past. These are primary reasons we need to spend more time getting our kids grounded in their faith by preparing them with a biblical worldview.
Can We be Too Restrictive with Teens?
The answer is: Yes. You want your child to know the culture we live in. You want them to be able to socialize with others in a healthy way. But, you’ll benefit by aggressively and intentionally preparing them to face the world we live in by teaching them the true moral standards of “right and wrong” found in God’s word.
Do Good Parents Ever Disappoint Their Kids?
The answer is: Yes. This is a fact we need to embrace. When we are in the wrong, we need to apologize to them. This will improve the bond you have with your child, and generate trust. By teaching them there is disappointment in life, and how to deal with it in a healthy manner, helps to grow your child’s character. Refer to Romans 5:3-4 “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
The number one reason teens commit suicide today is because they have no hope. If we reverse the scriptures of Romans 5:3-4 we see that character and hope are derived from perseverance. We also see that perseverance is produced by suffering. Our teens have no hope because they have no character. They have no character because they haven’t had to persevere. They haven’t had to persevere because they have not had to suffer. This doesn’t mean suffer in a malicious way, it implies healthy self discipline.
Of course, self discipline must be taught consistently over time. As children watch and learn from their parents from infancy into adolescence, as parents – we need to maintain our own self discipline. Because they see you in control, this also helps to build trust and security between you and your child. Spending a good amount of quality time with your child will take discipline on your part, but the rewards are immense. Love is spelled T-I-M-E. Cancel your appointments for a day, and spend some quality time with your children. They may not tell you; but it will signify to them that you really care and love them, and it will create lasting memories for everyone.
Do you have a specific question you would like to ask about raising your child?