I can’t help it. I love teenagers. For better or for worse—I love ‘em. There’s something that endears me about that stage in life where one day you feel almost like an adult and the next you’d rather just be a kid. Honestly, I still kind of feel that way at times. Don’t you?
But would you want to be a teenager today?
It’s easy to look at today’s generation of teenagers and say they are babied, selfish to the point of entitlement, disrespectful, and oversensitive. Perhaps the criticism is accurate in some ways. But how did they get that way? And more importantly, what can we do about it? There is no quick or simple solution, but if we understand their world, we will certainly have a lot more influence. They are living in a world that is completely different than the one we grew up in. Let’s take a peek into some of today’s teenage challenges that are tougher than in our day.
Living in a Fishbowl
It’s not just celebrities who are concerned about paparazzi. Imagine having a photographer and filming crew document your everyday activities. Think back to some of the ridiculous and immature things you did in your teen and college years. The internet has provided a public and permanent venue to display, expose, and judge mercilessly. Someone is always pulling out their phone, taking pictures and videos. Privacy is nonexistent. Now, that’s pressure I’m grateful I didn’t have growing up.
The internet is constant—always available. Of course, there are some positives to this. If you need an answer, just google it. There’s a world of resources only a tap or click away. Unfortunately, for a teenager, the negatives may outway the positives. A bullied kid cannot even find sanctuary in his own home. Cyberbullying follows him everywhere.
9 out of 10 boys and 6 out of 10 girls are exposed to pornography online before the age of 18. Kids today are exposed to violence and pornography on the internet before they are even able to process what they’re seeing, robbing them of innocence long before adulthood.
Yes, teens can choose to avoid the internet, but it’s not realistic.
Unhealthy Pressures and Expectations
The bar has been set high. But are they being asked to do so many things that nothing gets done well? Sports, advanced placement classes, college applications, FASFA, loans, and the list goes on.
With the current culture of social media exhibitionism, unhealthy sexual expectations, and pressures are at an all-time high for teens.
Rise of Single-parent Families
According to the United States Census Bureau,
Today in the U.S., around 30 percent of all families with children are headed by a single parent (versus nearly 20 percent in 1980)
Parenthood is a challenging under the best of conditions. With one parent those challenges are multiplied. Single-income, responsibilities, demands of work, housework, homework, can be overwhelming. When a parent is stretched thin financially and emotionally, the family dynamics suffer.
Decline in Biblical Morality
I included this last, but certainly, it is not least.
According to a recent Barna Group survey, regardless of what demographic one looks at, (Millennials, Gen-Xers, Boomers) Americans 18 years of age and older are worried that moral behavior is becoming a thing of the past.
However, when it comes to the agreeing on what determines right and wrong, Americans are far from standing in unison. The poll revealed most Americans rely on their own reasoning power — above God’s wisdom — to determine right from wrong. This is extremely dangerous for our teenagers.
Those whose moral compass is grounded in the Bible view morality in a much different light.
Practicing Christians (59 percent) are nearly four times more likely than adults with no faith (15 percent) to believe moral truth is absolute, the statistics show.
Christians today have an opportunity and responsibility to teach and lead by example the truth and relevance of God’s morality found only in the Bible.
The next generation is hungry for truth and real love and we must lead the way. But in order to do so, we must be able to have a level of understanding of their world along with compassion for the pressures they are facing today.
Although it is tougher than ever to be a teenager, I have had the opportunity to meet many who rise above the unfortunate stereotypes, and pressures. I will be dedicating a bi-monthly (or more) column here on Spotlight to teens and teen issues. I hope it will be enlightening and inspirational for teens as well as adults. Even if you’re long past the season of teens, we all owe it to the next generation to pass on our love and wisdom.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28: 19-20
Stay tuned for more about Teen Tuesday on Spotlight. In the meantime, will you join me in prayer for the next generation? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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Yes! I believe that God has planned great things for this next gen and we are honored to watch Him move!!
Father thank You for allowing us to watch You move! We pray for the next generation that is navigating the arrows of the enemy in lightening force. We pray Father that You will pour Your Spirit in them as You did with the early Church we pray that You will empower them and help them to see themselves as the Mighty Warriors You have called them to be we pray Father that You will help each of us to see them through Your eyes as the teenagers that You love. In Jesus’ Name AMEN
AMEN, Eve! Thank you for this powerful prayer for our teens.
I was a teacher for four years. High school is brutal. Junior high is Mordor. May we find the grace and knowledge to protect our teens.
Brandon, my first response to what you wrote about Junior High being Mordor was a chuckle. But then I realized there’s some truth to that. How sad. Frodo had Sam and the fellowship. Many of these teens have no one to point the way to the light. That’s where WE come in.
As a former teacher, you have first-hand experience in the complicated world of a teen today. Thanks for taking the time to respond and help give us a little more insight.
Beckie — it wasn’t too long ago we raised teenagers. It was hard but worth the extra praying and taking them to church. God blessed us with two Godly men who preach His word today. I appreciate what today’s teens go through and what they face. We need to be an example to them everyday. Thanks for your post.
Del, Yes it was only a few years ago that I was raising teenagers. Whew! I’m glad we made it through alive. Sometimes I wondered. I’m joking, of course. But in all seriousness, today’s teens need more godly influences in their lives. Those of us who know the Lord have a responsibility to love on the teens God has brought into our lives even though our kids are now adults. Praise God for your boys. I’m sure both of them are reaching out to the teens in their churches and communities.
It’s seems so long ago when my kids were teens, but here come the grand-girls who will hit those awkward, confusing teen years before I can bat an eye. We definitely, as Christians, need to lead these beautiful souls by example and by involvement in their lives. They need a moral compass, and how! God provides the perfect one in His Word.
Looking forward to this series on teens, Beckie! Blessings!
Martha, You are so right in saying teens need a moral compass. We all do! Many teens are born into very troubling situations today. We can make a positive influence by understanding their worlds and lovingly teaching them about the moral compass of God’s Word.
Thanks for commenting.
Reblogged this on Brandon J. Adams and commented:
As a teacher for four years, I resonate with this post. The dangers of the teenage years are unprecedented and numerous, and I could add the simple heartbreaks of bullying and exclusion. We need to pray for our kids; we need to intervene and listen; we need to introduce them to Jesus.
I’m here through Brandon Adams blog (fabulous writer!).
I am in the transition zone with my kids: one girl, one boy; one in the faith, one rejecting it; one newly in the workforce, one preparing to exit school and enter it as well.
In some ways, I’ve seen my days as a mother as having the mantle of the Holy Spirit, i.e. abiding presence… I’ve “come alongside”, not necessarily with a lot of words, but ready to supply the carrot or the stick to nudge them in the right direction.
It’s riveting to me that my son often complained in his teen years about the ever-present-ness of our faith, especially in light of the fact that we deliberately didn’t talk about it often – but lived quiet lives around him.
He just passed his Driver’s Test and we are honoring him in various small ways for all his life-affirming good choices. There is a new quiet humility coming from him.
I’m hoping he’s “getting it”: we love him, God loves him. He’s loved. He is also invited to…love.
Thanks for taking the time to comment after reading this on Brandon’s blog. I agree, he’s a great writer with a lot of passion.
My prayer for your boy and girl:
Lord, you know each of these young people inside and out. You created them with love and special gifts to bring glory to You. Please open the eyes of their hearts to grasp how deep, how wide, and how long Your love is for them. I pray they embrace that love and never let it go, sharing it with the world around them. Protect them for the lies of the enemy and gird them with the truth found only in Your word. Bless their parents and strengthen the relationship between them. In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen
By the way, I stopped by your blog. Your poetry is amazing! If you’re interested, check out this amazing Christian magazine, Altarwork. I think you should submit. http://www.altarwork.com/
wow. That prayer means the world to me. Bless you for it!
p.s. I’m amazed at your comment about my poetry! You have know idea how I second-guess some of my “outpourings.” Your feedback is really appreciated.
I left my comment on Brandon’s blog, but we really do need to be watchers on the wall in prayer for our youth!
I read your comment on Brandon’s blog. Thanks for reading and for joining in prayer for our youth today. And thanks for serving our teen’s through your church.
The truth is that the Devil’s target is the young, malleable ones. We, erroneously, think they’re too young to be taught what they’ve already been introduced to.
I don’t take chances at all. I teach them everything, including sex education, before the enemy (Satan) takes them through his own curriculum, satanically. Why did God choose Abraham? Isn’t it for the fact that “he’ll teach his children and the next generation”?
God cares so much for the youths that, having reeled out the first 4 laws (relating man to God) of the 10, the next, 5th, took care the children, with an attendant promise.
Parents must know everything about their kids. We don’t just pray (twice a day -at home), I make sure I teach God’s word from His protocol, the Bible. I use every opportunity to offer more prayers for them and the family. God is very much interested in the family, to which the young ones belong.
I must commend this great initiative to address the teens. I also want to thank Brandon Adams for stopping by my post. The Lord God will show the teeming teens His ways. Amen.
Thank you for sharing! I could not agree with you more. Many teens don’t have parents who pray for them. That means when the Lord brings teens into our lives (through our kids, church, or wherever) WE, as loving Christians, need to pray for them. We also need to look for opportunities to share Christ’s love in a non-threatening, or preachy way.
Blessings to you for raising your children to love the Lord. And thanks for reading my article that Brandon was so kind to post on his blog.
They don’t need our threats. It’s love: that’s what they need, and, of course, our own uprightness – it’s key. We should be praying for single-parents, especially single-mothers! I pray for more ‘grace’ to your elbows, beckielindsey.
Yes, this is so very true! As being in the last year of teenage-hood myself, I’ve experienced so recently the many facets of navigating this difficult time. However, I think sometime we get so wrapped up in “navigating” that we forget that we should be overcoming — boldly living these years for Christ! One of the hardest parts honestly is the absence of community, the hardness of finding others that wish to serve the Lord fully, in this ever-rushing, what’s-the-newest-thing world. I’ve been blessed to find some wonderful fellowship both around me and online, but you’ve pointed out so well the difficulties of this time, and encouraging others to love, to grow teenagers as your fellow brothers and sisters in Him! Thank you for this great post!
Belle, so many things about your comment does my heart good! First, that you are wholeheartedly seeking after God and have a few like-minded friends to help encourage and keep you accountable. I’m praying that God opens up the opportunity for more community—real community, not FB twitter friends.
I’m also glad this post rang true to someone who is living the teenage life today and that it was an encouragement. I’m working with a potential agent to help me publish a fictional book about some of those struggles. If you want to get an idea of what it’s about look under books and studies on the blog and click Beauties from Ashes.
Thanks so much for taking the time to write. I’ll be checking out your blog too! Keep shining that light, sister!
Thank you for your prayers, I know this year holds many opportunities that will hopefully help me to better connect with the people of God! Your books sounds so very interesting, and I’d be delighted to see it on shelves on day!
Thank you, and you too! <3
Thank you for sharing at Literacy Musing Mondays. I’m right in the middle of raising teens and a tween. Tough ages for sure. My prayer is that my kids remain biblically grounded when out from under my and my husband’s wings. Glad you have such a heart for teenagers. 🙂
Brandi, I know you’re busy with kids that age. Praying right there with you for your kids to develop their own personal relationship with Christ that grows with each passing year.
Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.
Thank you for this post. My son is 15. He was exposed to porn at the age of 5. Please pray for him. He does not have a cell phone or access to internet unless supervised. I often say, I would not want to be a teen now. I look forward to your next posts on teens. Please submit this article to Magazines. It is a necessary message.
Cherrilynn, I appreciate your comment. Both of my sons and my daughter were exposed to porn at early ages as well. It’s so disheartening! It’s good you have set up boundaries for your son’s internet use. We did the same. There are some great programs like Covenant Eyes that are helpful for parents too.
As a young adult who has recently exited the teen years, I am sadly still reeling from and recovering from many wrong choices. After counseling at a Christian camp this last summer, my eyes were opened to many of the intense struggles today’s teens face, and it frankly broke my heart for them. So many of them just need to know that we care and that we are willing to listen, guide with truth, and judge only through Christ’s eyes of love, compassion, and hope.
Lizzy, Oh, how I agree with you! That’s the reason I’m on a mission to share God’s love and acceptance to others—especially teens.
May the Lord bless you for serving at camp. What a ministry. Keep shining your light, dear sister. I’m praying this prayer from the apostle Paul over you and the teens you are ministering to. It’s long, but worth it!(Eph 3:14-21)
“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.”
Keep shining your light, dear sister! And thanks for taking the time to share.
Oh my word. That passage keeps coming up and people keep reminding me of it. It’s so encouraging. When I first confronted my past, my now mentor encouraged me with that passage. There’s so much hope in that passage! Thanks for the encouragement, sister!
Lizzy, YOU encouraged me!
Awww. Praise the Lord ❤️
I wish the older generation had more understanding, time and wisdom to share with the younger generation. It’s crazy that now I’m 24 and even now, everything is drastically different from when I went to school as a high schooler or middle schooler 8 and 12 years ago. Adults, parents, and leaders should be more aware at how much the gap between generations have gotten bigger and take the time out of their busy schedules, even just for 10 minutes to connect with a teenager. It makes the difference.
Victoria, I’m doing what I can to bridge the gap with articles such as this. You are so right—we need to have a better understanding of what our youth are facing today.
Thanks for your input and encouragement.
Beckie, I love this out! I love teenagers too. I have two of them who will officially be adults in one month! It’s unbelievable. It’s true; teenagers are faced with so much pressure today! It’s a “look at me world, ” so it’s no wonder they are so confused about how to behave. Only a relationship with Jesus and sound biblical teachings will keep them grounded. I’ve also spent many hours reaching out to teens and spending time with them. They want to be heard, and they want to be loved! I’m praying for our nation’s teens alongside you. I’m looking forward to talking together; I have some similar ideas for reaching out to teens.,God bless you , Beckie, in Jesus’ name! I’m blessed by your genuine compassion to bring both adults and teens the truth and love of Jesus Christ! 💙
Angel, Wow! I’m humbled and honored by your comment. I’m so glad to have made a connection with you in social media. I’m praying the Lord’s blessings on you, your ministry, and your soon-to-be-adult kids.
Hi Beckie, I have a strong desire to prepare young adults for the big wide world of the internet. I am at the other end of my husbands pornography addiction that has cost us terribly, him more so. He is totally lost in his fantasy world at the moment. I am blogging to make young people, parents and grandparents aware of the possible outcomes of secret porn addictions that remain undisclosed. They lie dormant and unseen to then wreck relationships and families. Through my own story I want to shout out to people to expose this silent enemy of souls whenever and wherever it raises its ugly head. Pre pubesant girls and boys are exposed to internet porn. Their innocent minds are vulnerable to becoming shaped with expectations of future intimate relationships through what they view on line. It was refreshing to read your blog, and hear your heart and love for teenagers. God bless you beyond expectancy x
I cannot thank you enough for sharing. I’m sorry to hear about what you’ve been through and are going through. I’d love to pray and chat with you more about this. I have some personal experience with the issues you’ve discussed. Would you email me and I can email you back?
In the meantime, I’m praying for you, dear sister!
I’m joining you in prayer and with the desire to educated adults and teens on the ravages of porn on our society.
Blessings to you and yours!