It might seem easier some days to play dumb and pretend the ugly stuff of growing up isn't out there, but that won't make it go away. In fact, if we don't see the behavior of young people as their cries for someone to see their NEED, then we are held accountable for our refusal to care.
Today students begin their desperate cries for help at earlier ages than ever. The real message of many eating disorders, self-mutilation, dangerous relationships, silence, and addictions is that there is a NEED, and these behaviors are ways of announcing the needs.
It's not just "weird" teen behavior. Excessive shopping, addictions to texting or the internet, dangerous connections through social media, and experimenting with substances point to the fact that kids today are overwhelmed by needs too big for kids to handle. We expose them to extreme amounts of visual and audible stimuli at a young age, and then we wonder why they don't know how to digest it all and make sense of it, let alone be discerning about what it has to do with their lives. For example, who needs to see prescription commercials for sexual dysfunctions or for menstrual cycles during a "family" tv show? If we think our kids are synthesizing the content wisely or that it's going "over their heads," we are kidding ourselves. It is feeding their need.
Kids need to know that:
- we will set wise boundaries for their good
- it is safe for them to talk to us about their questions and feelings
- we will not abandon them as they go through the rough waters of growing up
- there is nothing they can't pray about or tell God
- God's Word really does have answers for their needs and questions
Instead of freaking out the next time your young person (and this can happen even in the toddler years, can't it?) says something that makes you gasp or shudder, take a deep breath and remember what God's attitude is to us, His always needy children:
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
How glad I am that when I have been at my neediest (and that's not always pretty for me ... how about you?), God has extended His open arms to me, so I am welcome to bring my burdens to Him and find comfort and care. What a great picture for parents and caring adults today. It's a great way to meet the NEEDs we see.
Help us to be insightful and to understand the needs that young people today are trying to express. Help us not to be turned off by their ugliness, as You were not turned off by ours. Help us to welcome them to us and offer them Your love. We depend on You for the patience, wisdom, and unconditional love to receive them and guide them for Your glory.
Tomorrow, the last letter of "Spring" ~ the "G" It's going to good. Not "good," but good. :) I hope you'll stop in and find out what this final truth is that brings all of the others together.