Liar, Liar…Pants on Fire

I remember being exceptionally adept at lying when I was young.  I think my peak performances were in my younger teenage years…maybe around ages 12-16.  Whether I lied about being sick to get out of school, the homework assignment I “did,” or the leftover pizza that went missing over night, I lied a lot and my parents didn’t seem to be catching on.

Looking back, most of my lies were out of self-interest – in order to get what i wanted or to get out of trouble.  I don’t remember lying for fun or mischief.  It seems innocent enough – sure, what kid doesn’t lie to keep from getting grounded?  However, when my son was born, the effects of my lying days rippled through time and struck me when I wasn’t expecting it.  Yes, I was self-interested as a teen…but I was never really cured of that habit and mindset.  Caring for Jack was a punch in the gut – my selfishness was highlighted in bright, bold color for me and the whole world to see.  My selfish endeavors as a kid created a pattern of selfishness that I never really broke, or even realized I had, until it was time to put someone else first (my wife may have noticed long before I did).

Here’s an article with some research about teens and lying:

http://www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/people/teens-tell-the-most-lies-study-1.1894584#.VdMu6SxVikp

Lying is never cute.  It is never acceptable.  We can expect it from young people, but we should encourage open environments, integrity, and love for one another.  Lying is selfish.  The gospel is self-sacrificing.  I challenge all of us, especially myself, to model and teach this to our kids.

Matt

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Friendship Turnover

I want to say this is a newer rhythm in adolescent life.  Of course, I am still close with many of the friends i made in middle and high school.  However, as I think about it, I only have one close friendship still maintained from 5th grade, a couple from 6th-8th, and a few from high school.  So, am I an outlier, am I misrembering my teenage years, or is this new social media world contributing to friendship turnover?

This article speaks about research concerning teenage friendships:

http://scienceblog.com/79357/adolescent-friendship-study-confirms-birds-feather-flock-stay-together/#yYFFptxmOXZymkmy.97

Stability is important.  With the ever changing social landscape of the teenager – in friendships, media, sports – we must find places for stable expectation and experience.  Make your home a place of love and comfort, to provide respite from the crazy world of your teenager.  But most importantly, speak and live the gospel to your teenager.  Show them there is an unchanging God who loves them enough to have come and die for them.  This truth is truly everlasting, stable, and comforting.

Matt

Disagree to Disagree

A 10-year study has found that disagreeable teens tend to turn into disagreeable adults.

Read this:

http://www.npr.org/2015/06/16/414831873/disagreeable-teens-fail-to-understand-their-blind-spots-research-reveals

Yes, it’s true.  Teens have trouble empathizing in general.  Given the rise in technology as a barrier for face-to-face communication, empathy is a skill that now needs to be intentionally taught.  I find the study in the article interesting, but not hopeless.  Yes, many teens who are selfish or disagreeable grow up to stay that way.  However, there are many vehicles for changing this sort of behavior.  Team sports is a great one – it teaches teamwork, social dynamics, and the all-too-forgotten skills of winning and losing with grace.  Scouts teaches team dynamics and respect.  Other programs or social activities can be useful, but they are all about instilling value and behavior modification.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about modifying behavior or even changing priorities.  The Gospel is about the transformational work of Christ’s death on the cross, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the love and acceptance of the Father despite our brokenness.  Talk to your kids about the Gospel and how it affects their social dynamics.  Respect, empathy, and even listening skills will come as a result of the work of God in their hearts as they follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  Everything else is just behavior modification.

The Teenage Brain

Yes, it’s true.  Your teenager’s brain is an idiot.  But it’s supposed to be!  According to research, the brain is only about 80% developed by adolescence, and it isn’t until age 25-30 that our brains are fully developed.

Read this:

http://www.tampabay.com/news/health/theres-a-reason-why-teenagers-act-the-way-they-do/2229651

We can’t stop our kids from doing all the things their idiot brains tell them to do, but we can mitigate destructiveness or rebellion.  Spend time with your kids.  Help them.  Love them.  Try to understand them.  Don’t be reactive.  Most importantly, share the gospel with them and live the gospel alongside of them.

Matt

How to Ruin Your Relationship with Your Teenager

There are lots of ways we push our kids away.  No parent is perfect.  In the article below, you will find helpful information on some easy ways parents often push their kids away, and how we might be more conscious of our interactions with them.  Teenagers are hard to deal with some times, but they are passionate, fun, sensitive, and generous.  Nurture those good qualities, share with them the gospel, live the gospel, and they will thank you later!

Read this:

http://www.themid.com/family/how-to-ruin-your-relationship-with-your-teenager?u=vQjs3im0tH

Matt