A Christian Perspective on Adolescence


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A Christian Perspective on

Adolescence

©2005 Rev. Kimberly Hartfield, B.S.

                Adolescence is a tumultuous time in most teenagers’ lives.  Almost every teen faces some degree of adolescent insecurity.  How a teen perceives the way peers view them as a person can be a critical factor in determining that youth’s self-image.  An adolescent’s self-worth is determined by both how the teen views them self and how that youth believes others see or do not see them.  If the teen believes they are valued by those closest to the youth, they will likely have a positive self-image.  On the other hand, if the teen is criticized frequently by the significant people in their life, the youth may have a poor self-image.

The most significant fact a teen needs to know is that they are valued and loved by the youth’s closest loved ones.  If an adolescent feels despised or undervalued by those who are important to the teen, that young person may become depressed and possibly suicidal unless there is some other significant positive influence in the teen’s life.  An adolescent never takes it for granted that they are loved.

The young person needs to have some positive verbal feedback from the significant others in their life in order to feel personally adequate.  There also needs to be some positive physical touching in the form of familial hugs, kisses, and pats of approval from the teen’s closest loved ones.  Without this coveted feedback from the parental-child relationship, the adolescent will often seek emotional and physical needs in a peer relationship, which may lead to early exploration of sexuality and otherwise risky behavior.

This strong desire by the teen to feel appreciated and loved must be fulfilled by the parents or other significant authority figures or the adolescent will inevitably seek approval in their peer and/or dating relationships, sometimes in unwelcome ways.  A teen’s desire to fit in with peers may be a factor in current behavior trends and parental rebellion, but if the adolescent has a positive and loving relationship with their parents, then the teen will ultimately feel secure in their individuality and will not easily cave in to unsolicited peer pressure.

Adolescents from Christian homes are often as much at risk as other children in problem areas, including but not limited to rebellion, delinquency, teenage pregnancy, depression, and suicidal behaviors.  Split families, dysfunctional families, single parent, and stepfamilies all contribute to the problems that adolescents must overcome to be adequately functioning adults.  These types of homes are not foreign to the Christian community. Ideally the parental-child relationship should model God’s unconditional love and acceptance for His children, as well as His discipline and justice.  But realistically, worldly influences and sin on both sides of the relationship distort many of these.  When this first and primary relationship is distorted by dysfunctional parents, the children in that family are sometimes left with a gaping void of love in their lives, which they will inevitably attempt to fill with other secondary relationships.  The cycle often repeats itself when dysfunctional adolescents become dysfunctional adults.

It is the local churches’ responsibility along with the parents to provide ample resources for the teen’s physical and emotional well being along with their mental and spiritual well fare and continued Christian growth.  The teen must ultimately know that the love of Christ is the only love that can give them the unconditional love and acceptance that they seek.  Troubled youth need to know that they are not in their world alone and they need not try to walk through it alone.  The Church, who is the hands and heart of God, can step in with positive influences and role models.  Sunday school teachers, Youth directors, Christian mentors, and plenty of Christian related activities can supplant worldly influences that bide for their time and loyalty.

Activities should be diverse so that they might attract a wide range of teen-agers.  Programs should not be primarily musical, study, or activity oriented, but should have a combined emphasis so as not to isolate those who are not inclined in a certain direction.  Nor should the activities always be costly, or the youth along with their parents, may feel like outsiders when they can’t afford expensive youth excursions, even though these may be partially funded.  It is a wonderful thing when the church gracefully helps those who cannot afford these expenses otherwise, but no one wants to be the one who always needs financial help.

Youth gatherings can be done in the church fellowship hall or local homes without the added expense of eating out.  When outside activities are warranted, donations and fund raisers should be collected in advance and pooled, with the Church supplementing  any additionally needed funds.  All the funds should be consolidated, so that no teen feels they have not contributed enough and stays away from church related activities.  Many of these activities can be free or relatively inexpensive, such as visiting a local swimming hole, public parks and zoos, appropriate dollar shows, museums, mission trips, Christian concerts and other Church sponsored events, or donation only events.

English: Polish teenagers. Polski: Polscy nast...

These adolescent activities and relationships can never replace the parental-child relationship, but they may go a long way in keeping young people occupied in Christian relationships and activities that will likely supplement and hopefully supplant those worldly influences that tend to distract from a Christian lifestyle.  As Christian parents, we must be in active spiritual warfare and constant prayer for our youth in today’s culture or we will lose them in a lost and dying world full of satanic influences. They must be physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually prepared to battle for the Lord Jesus Christ.  Our youth are our greatest asset in the great commission.

It can not be stressed enough that showing our children we love them is the most important factor in a healthy parental-child relationship.  Christian parents have the added responsibility of showing our children God’s unfailing love in spite of the circumstances they find themselves in.  We must guide them in righteousness and admonish them to flee from evil influences.  Love and forgiveness must be applied in the parental-child relationship for it to be healthy.  We must set an example for our children, but know that we are human and that we will err. We must recognize that even the most perfect of all Fathers had his children rebel against Him, too.

If you liked this article you might like my new book Mom of 8 Parenting Little People

 

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About mamaheartfilled

I am a mother of eight wonderfully challenging children and nine grandkids, of whom I am very proud. I am also a bi-vocational ordained evangelical minister, and a Christian Counselor. I received my B.S. degree in 2004, studying primarily in the areas of Psychology, with minors in Religion and English. I received my Masters Degree in 2009 in Psychological Counseling with an emphasis in Christian Counseling. I have endeavored to paraphrase the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, for the last ten years or so and am working on a final edit, now. It is my hope that it will be of some use in the great commission of Christ. My ministry is primarily geared toward victims of sexual and domestic violence, including victims of childhood sexual abuse, whether currently or in the past. Since I have personally experienced the healing hand of God in overcoming many of the life issues that Christians may face, I feel qualified and compelled to discuss them in a truthful and open manner, as God’s word tells us that “We shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free.” God has brought me through such diverse tribulations as sexual, physical, and mental abuse, being a victim of a drunk driving accident, spousal pornography addiction, adultery, divorce, remarriage, a very brief, though unjust, incarceration, and having experienced multiple miscarriages and various other trials. I have been asked to leave two Southern Baptist Churches, due to my being a female, ordained as a minister, and fired from a SBC sponsored Christian School (mostly white) for speaking out against racial prejudice in the Family of God. Through God’s merciful forgiveness of my own sins and inadequacies and God’s grace given to me to forgive those who have been a stumbling block to me, I have overcome many of these adversities. God’s word tells us that “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to the purposes of God." Since I have this hope, I believe that God has blessed me with the ability to confront and relate these issues to the Christian community around the world. I hope to be able to use my personal experiences as a ministry of God’s grace and in the comforting of the people of God with the truth of God's mercy. I claim II Corinthians 1: 3 & 4 as my calling, which states: “Blessed be God, the Origin of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Origin of mercies, and the God of comfort; who comforts us in all our troubles, that we may be able to comfort those who are in trouble, by the comfort we ourselves have been given by God.” As I have received the gift of God’s healing, I hope to be able to bring the peace beyond understanding to others with the message of God’s mercy and grace. My love for the Sovereign Lord of my life, Jesus Christ, along with my passion for writing has drawn me to explore these commonly experienced crisis issues from the perspective of my own experience in the hope that I may bring an empathetic and compassionate insight to God’s people. I am now a published author and have several books in publication, including my autobiography, "A Little Redneck Theology." The views expressed in my writings are strictly my own insights, acquired from personal experience and diligent study of the related topics and God’s word concerning them. Though I am an ordained minister, my views should not be considered authoritative. I believe that the Christian community’s ultimate authority is the guidance of the human heart by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
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