Monday, July 20, 2015

The Magic Teenager Pill

As the mom of a teenager I've earned some unexpected privileges.  Starting with the privilege of changing the radio station.  A lot.

1960 Studebaker Lark VIII sedan (12404305043)
See at our house we have something called, "The Moral Objection".  When the radio is on in the car, any family member who objects to the song on the radio due to its moral content (not its tune, style, etc) is allowed to call moral objection and the station will be immediately changed.  
My teenager is the reason for this family policy.  When we got back to the States and her listening repertoire grew larger than the music that her family members or adult Christians friends listened to (IE old rock, Sinatra, old country, classical), she quickly became uncomfortable.  One day in the car she quietly said, "Mom can I change the station?"  At my raised eyebrows she elaborated.  "I don't like the words to this song."  

A short conversation later and the moral objection was born.  

Another privilege you might ask?   I get to hear and be heard.  I get to help her sort out problems with friends, trouble at school, and the best way to handle the stress of finals. I get the privilege of weighing in on issues covered in Health class including "sexting".  Because I was a non-threatening listener, one of my girls asked my opinion and I was allowed to give her all the reasons as a mom, an adult and especially as a Christian that "sexting" was a disaster.  
Being a person who is around, with an open house and an open fridge, has earned me other privileges (and a larger grocery bill.  Teenagers are locusts).  I got to wade out into freezing water and cry while a granddad baptized a boy who was crying too.  I got invited to come down to say goodbye when he's sworn into the Marines next month.  I got to tell him with tears in my eyes how I am praying for his safety, his growth and his joy in this new life he's chosen.  I get to take 2 freshman to ladies bible class.  I get to delight with them in buying new notebooks and rejoice with them as they take on new responsibilities to sub in a bible class or send cards to visitors.  Next week we're going to be cooking for and visiting with a shut in couple. 

I hear a lot of negative talk about teens.  I hear that without youth ministers, large youth programs and money that kids are lost.  I hear that even with all those things we lose kids anyway.  I hear that teens are sullen, addicted to electronics, and tune their parents right out. 

"They" said stuff like that when I was a teenager too.  

If you are the parent, older sibling, or Christian sister of a teen, you may have a very different experience from mine, but I want to encourage you to listen to the young people in your life.  Earn the right, through hospitality, love and patience to hear and be heard.  Make sure you are a spiritual role model, not in your words primarily but your actions.  Take them along, let them see what it means to be people of God.

There is no "magic teenager pill." And there's no single program that's guaranteed to help us keep our kids in church. There's just one Christian at a time, loving one kid at a time. It's the kind of discipling that God calls us to do with those who are coming to know Him no matter their age. 

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