Here are a few things I have noticed matter to teens…
I find it interesting that all of these things that matter can be fulfilled through their friendships. Let me explain. In their friendships they are noticed, heard, trusted, adopt an image (fashion, hobby, interests, label) and they can be real or befriend people who will be real with them.
What does this reveal to us as parents and youth workers? Friendships matter ALOT! And it’s proper to say that basic human relationships matter. If this is all true, I wonder what kind of friends my son and daughter will make in their teen years…If this is true of friendships then I am going to be cautious of who my children call close friends. The area of friendships is extremely important for the development of our children. I want my children to have close friends, but who are these friends on the inside? And, what is their home life? Who is their god? What consumes their hearts? Who will be influencing my children?
My hope and prayer for my children is they find friends who are madly in love with Jesus Christ. I hope they find friends who find their worth and importance in Jesus. I hope they find friends who are filled with the presence of God and apply themselves to living by the Word of God. I hope they find friends who walk like Jesus did (1 John 2:6). I’m not wanting perfect friends, but friends who pursue the perfect savior, learning and maturing in their lives. If that’s the kind of friends they have then I have no problem with them finding a group of people who notice, hear, and trust them. I have no problem with them finding friends who are real, hopefully they use that authenticity to be real about God and the Christian life.
I do have a problem with my children finding their image in friends. My children are not defined by a group of friends, christian or not. My children are defined by Christ (assuming they accept the grace of Jesus Christ and find their identity in Him). Christians are children of God. We adopt the identity of a child of God. We are in this world, but not of it. We are defined by God’s Will, by the words and life of Jesus Christ. Jesus says how we should live, act, speak and think. Even if our friends encourage Christ-like values, it’s only commentary. First and foremost, Jesus defines his followers.
Parents and youth workers can learn one more valuable lesson. Our relationship with our kids matter. We need to be parents, spiritual mentors, but not friends. In our role, we need to notice them, hear them, trust them and be real with them. When it comes to image, we need to point them to Christ. And we can help that by living Jesus publicly before them.
God help us as we help navigate our children in life with friendships and they’re greatest friendship, Jesus Christ. Help us to do a better job in the areas that matter to them. Thank you for the opportunity and partnership we have in raising these teens for you. In Jesus name, Amen!
Parents, what have you noticed matters to teens? What advice could you give us in this area of teen life?