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