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Posts Tagged ‘behaviors’

Kids today deserve more credit than we give them.24418022950876082_SHVOlNqK_b

We complain that they are lazy, selfish, and directionless. We feel intimidated when we see a group of teens. We look at their appearance, their fashion, their music and critique that they have no taste. We say they do not know how to speak to adults, that they give one word responses, that they do not make eye contact. We complain about them … their attitudes, their behaviors. We look down on them.

Is that the whole story? Is the future in peril because of our teens? Are they really any different than the teens that we were not all that long ago?

Back when I was a kid, a teen, I remember vividly the experience of returning a watch that my grandmother had given me as a high school graduation present because it was not working. Receipt in hand, I took it back to the store where my grandmother had purchased it. I presented myself, and my story, to the lady working at the store. She looked at me suspiciously, spoke very rudely to me, and made it clear to me that she did not believe my story. I was finally able to get my watch exchanged, but I left the store with a feeling of inferiority and of not being believed … heard.

Do we ‘hear’ kids and teens today? Do we look down on them simply because they are young?

In 1 Timothy 4:12, the young are told,

“don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young,
but set an example for the believers in speech,
in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

But how do the young learn how to set a good example “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” if it is not modeled to and for them by those of us who have raised them?

We give much to our children, but it is at a cost. Most parents provide many tools and toys for their children, working long hours to pay all that is needed. I read a report last week that said that 38% of children in grade 5 have a cell phone. The number jumps to over 83% just three grades later.

We provide many extracurricular activities for our children, yet from my own parental experience that too can be disappointing. I have observed parents who seem to expect their children to perform as Olympic athletes, yelling and demeaning them, or their coaches, in competitions. Or, parents do not even attend the performances of their children.

As adults we cannot expect mature behavior, passion-filled lives, or desire to help others if we do not love, mentor, lead and (most importantly) spend time with children and teens (ours, or others whose lives cross with our own).

They and the raw material that they are when they are born, are created in the image of their Creator. They and how they grow to develop and mature is in the image of us, the parents who created them.
children-turn-out-well-quote

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”

James Baldwin

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Most of the time I like to think of myself as a progressive thinker (although my kids would probably not agree), but when it comes to one area I tend to be rather old fashioned, even archaic.

For those who are older like me, the song in the video below takes us back to watching the original movie, Footloose,  w a y  back in the 198o’s (for those not so old only back as far as a Shrek movie). It is the chorus that has been playing in my head lately.

The area that shows my age concerns young men.

As a mom of two daughters, one who is twenty and the other fifteen, I have started to observe young men from the point of view of ‘would I want my daughter to date him?’ It is not that either one (especially the fifteen year old) is looking to settle down, but more that I am always thinking ahead to the next step, trying to plan and prepare.

As I have observed young men, I have to say that I am starting to get really discouraged by what I see.

Now I know that I am a mom of daughters, and I am protective of them, and want only the best for them, and really there can never be a young man who is good enough for my daughters (imagine how much more so for their father). I also know that I am observing young men through the aging eyes of a thirty-nine (with three years experience) year old woman, and I do not fully understand the generation that I am observing. Fair enough! Yet, I feel so very discouraged in this!

Let me tell you what I have been observing:

Schooling and Jobs
There seems to be a lack of future goals. Post secondary schooling seems more to be just another phase rather than a vehicle to pursuing and attaining a future career. And many, upon graduation from university/college do not even pursue work in their area of study.

Mom and Dad Dependency
I have heard of far too many mid-twenty-something guys who are still living with, and off of, mom and day (and yes, I mean off of, as in no ‘rent’ is being charged to their working son OR ma and pop are still handing over cash to sonny boy who can’t find work). Certainly the financial circumstances of today require more young adults to still live at home, but parents who are allowing their adult children to completely live off of them are harming the next generation not helping them.

Undefinable Christianity
This one is just about Christian guys. I am all about Christian living within our world, and not segregating ourselves to only churchy activities, but seriously, there just has to be a difference in how we live our lives, if we say that we are ‘Christ-like’. Maybe this is where my ‘old fashioned’ side is most visible, but I really do believe that when a Christian guy is partying he should be able to remember what he did afterward, and that what he does with a girl(s) should be God-honoring.

I do believe that there are good men out there, and have even met some of them, but they really seem to be in the minority, and as a mom of a son as well, I really hope that we are raising him to be part of that vital minority. I hope too that our our daughters will hold out for a hero.

“In a desperate attempt to stay young forever
we have achieved eternal childishness,
rather than eternal youth.”

― Daniel Prokop, Leaving Neverland: Why Little Boys Shouldn’t Run Big Corporations

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The language of adolescents would seem to be technology. They talk and text and FaceTime and Tweet and game, and then there is social networking!

I had an interaction the other day with my son. I could tell by the way he closed (slammed) the van door, after school, that he was not in a good mood. It took everything within me to not respond … verbally, angrily with his over use of adolescent muscle on my van door. Working in a high school, I know that to respond to anger in a teen, who is angry, is only going to elevate the level of anger. So, I did what I often do … I bit my tongue (it really should be severed in two by this point in my life … come to think of it, maybe this is what is meant when the Bible speaks of the tongue as being a double edged sword … maybe it has less to do with double edged, and more to do with heavy duty steal … but, I digress).

Once we were home, and he and I were alone for a moment, I took a deep breath, and asked (nicely) if he wanted to talk. He said, “no, not now, it was a crummy day.”

So, I let he and his ‘surly’ mood have space (physically and emotionally). The difficulty in giving him space though, is that as a woman, and a mom, one could not get much more inquisitive. All I really wanted to do was to get to the bottom of his bad mood.

Once he had some space (that is spent in his bedroom … his turf), I did what I often do in these circumstances. I knocked at the door, and ‘asked’ if I could enter. I brought a glass of water to him (it is my entrance fee …). Then, I asked if there was anything I could do to help improve his day (I ask because it helps the adolescent feel in control, and chances are he did not feel in control earlier in the day … this is empowering for them).

Sometimes tears start to flow at this point, sometimes a silent shake of the head, sometimes they are already okay, and life has moved on to brighter skies. It is a rare thing that they do not share what their day has held, and where their sorrow originated.

So, he told me his tale of woe … and I listened. The world would not have stopped for his great failure. His iTouch would not have wanted to hear his story. If he Tweeted it, or FB’ed it, or whatever else technology could have offered him it would not have come close to what he wanted, what he needed the most …

What my son, and any other son, or daughter, needs most, is a listening ear, and “I love you,” in response, and a big ‘ol mama hug.

The language of adolescents is NOT technology, the language of adolescents is the same as the language of us all … LOVE!

To be heard, to be loved, to be shown affection and acceptance, despite our behaviors … that is what we all want, what we all need.

The language of love is the language that we, as humans, live for! It is how we are wired, it is how we were created!

And, although I am only sharing one story of parental success in the midst of far too many failures for this one mom, I do believe it is in following with the example of Christ.

God loves us. He loves us not depending on our behaviors, but despite them! He loves us, because he knows that we are worth loving. And if I, whose behaviors are so poor, can be loved by the God of this universe, then I need to ensure that the behaviors of the adolescents in my life, are not keeping me from speaking their language.

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Karla Sullivan

Progressive old soul wordsmith

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