In 1997 Columbia pictures released a box office hit called, “Men in Black.” If you remember, actor Vincent D’Onofrio played a farmer in which his body is taken over by an alien. This alien abduction is quite funny for the audience because nothing quite works right as the farmer has not adapted well to the creature living inside of him. He is clumsy, awkward and off balance in the way that he speaks and interacts with the rest of the world.
Parents can certainly relate to this when raising teenagers. The body and mind of a teenager is much like an alien abduction. Your once sweet and outgoing little child is now a foreigner in your home. He or she is off balance, awkward and has a new form of language.
The truth is, your child has been taken over by a foreign matter. Although both males and females have androgen and estrogen circulating in their bodies with low levels of both until puberty, when puberty begins, males begin to have more androgen, including testosterone, and females have a much higher level of estrogen. This increase in levels is what makes them an alien from another world. Now, as parents, we tend to forget that we’ve been through the same season of change.
The BB&C takeover
When raising teenagers, the difficult part of the journey is what I call BB&C. (Brain Behavior and Changes). Hormonal changes affect brain functions. Our human brain makes mistakes. It can be easily confused. These mistakes make everyday upsets bigger problems for adolescents since at this time of life our brains become more sensitive and confused by the stress of life.
According to Web MD, the top five concerns that parents have with their teens are
1). Your teens seem to hate you.
2). Communication devices rule their lives
3). They stay out too late
4). They hang out with the wrong group of friends
5). Everything is high drama.
I can say that in my home with a fourteen-year-old and a seventeen-year-old son we have to work on a few of these same concerns as well as others. So, what is a parent to do with these and so many other concerns?
As part of the changes that your kids go through, it will help to understand that their thinking patterns change. As children they are “concrete thinkers.” For example, they follow the rules because they think in terms of specifics. They are not doing much thinking for themselves. They rely upon their parents and teachers to think for them.
But during adolescence, they become “abstract thinkers.” They start making conceptual connections. This means they think on their own and question everyone else.
These changes are confusing and difficult, but these are natural changes and part of their development.
Parents are now forced to adapt to these changes and learn how to let them go to let them grow into adulthood.
Let them go and let them grow
If you come across as always trying to control your teens, it can injure your relationship. According to Parenting Teens with Love and Logic, parents must weigh whether you should overlook negative behavior or actively oppose it based on the potential destructiveness of the behavior against the damage you might do to your relationship with your teen. Exasperating your teens is a big warning from scripture. (Ephesians 6:4).
Understand them from the inside out, recognizing and responding appropriately to the internal changes they all go through. Children on the road to independence still want acceptance, even if they don’t get approval.
God gets it
For parents who are Christians it’s vitally important to remember that God is in control, even when your kids are not. When you seem to have lost control of your teens and you feel overwhelmed, keep perspective and realize that if God can keep the universe running in perfect sync then He must know what’s going on with your kids, and He may be refining you just as much as He is refining your teens.
Even Jesus went from being a boy to being a man. He was completely human, and though he never sinned, he was tempted in all areas. He actually left home without permission, maybe missed his curfew and nearly caused his parents a panic attack. (Luke 2:40-46).
See the need for family counseling
There are times when family counseling helps resolve difficult issues in the home. Having a safe place to talk and get a biblical perspective can be a very important step to bring restoration, reconciliation and repentance. Without counsel your plans for raising your teen can become frustrating, but with good counsel, your parenting skills along with your teenager’s independence will succeed. (Proverbs 15:22).
The ultimate goal
As parents, the ultimate goal is to guide your children to live responsible and productive lives. Guiding them towards independence can be difficult, but it will help them to not only become a godly adult but they will also become your friend.
Pastor Brody Howell is the Founder of Core Solutions for Family Life where he consults with churches and schools to help impact youth and families. He is also the Executive Director of The Family Counseling Center in Pompano Beach and an Area Advisor for First Priority of South Florida. Pastor Brody can be reached at [email protected]