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Teenage hormones. Weather you are a teenager or a parent of a teenager or anyone who even knows a teenager this post is for you!
I will go ahead an admit that I do not have children. So no I can't say first hand what it's like parenting teenagers. But I have met hundreds of teenagers through my work in student ministry. I have also met countless parents who feel like they don't know what's going on with their teenagers. So today I want to talk about the always talked about "teenage hormones."
Here's the thing. Teenage hormones are totally a thing. (Even if you're a teenager reading this and you think they're not a thing. One day you will look back on these days and be so confused as to why you got unnecessarily mad, or cried, or both over something small or silly. It's gonna happen. Just wait.) But these hormones shouldn't be the go to answer to why your teenager is acting out, or emotional, or simply acting out of character. Yes, there are occasions where it probably has more to do with the hormones than anything else, like when they cry because you ran out of nutella. But for the most part you've probably raised a rational human being. And that rationale doesn't just disappear the day they turn 13.
Teenagers today have more stressors than almost every other generation of Americans. High school is more competitive than ever before, both in academics and in extracurricular. There are social pressures about appearances. They have family pressures too. With divorce rates jumping that creates a sense of uncertainty in these teenagers lives. And even if their parents have a perfect, wonderful, loving marriage, they have at least one friend who is struggling with a parents divorce and they are worried about them. There are also their own relationship pressures! College is harder and harder to get accepted to and then afford without going into debt. And speaking of debt. Most of today's teenagers have parents with mounds of personal debt. This scares them about being in the same financial situation! There are just so many pressures today than even just since I was a teenager! And that wasn't even that long ago!
A great book on this topic that I HIGHLY recommend to both parents and youth leaders is Hurt 2.0 by Chap Clark. It is a fantastic book that is easy to read and not too long but still delves into the life of teenagers today. Click here to view on amazon. I read it for my student and family counseling class in college and it was amazing! I still refer back to it. Book shelf must have.
So here is my point. Often times there is more going on than your teenager wants to share. Goodness sometimes they don't even know how to process the stresses in their life! Ideally your teenager is going to come to you and tell you about all of their feelings and everything going on in their life. But that's hard for them. The real world is just around the corner and they are stressed and scared and don't even know how to talk about it. So my advice to you is to please, please don't blame their actions or attitudes on their hormones. That is just going to make them feel like their feelings are being invalidated. Which is going to further strain the relationship. Also: they will grow out of this. Just like when they were younger and would only wear cowboy boots, or had to carry their bunny everywhere, or sucked their thumb, this is a phase. As a youth leader a lot of times I have said to a student the exact same thing their parent told them. And when I said it, it was a great idea simply because it wasn't from a parent! I have seen this frustrate parent after parent. It's a phase. And one day they will see how right you were. Be patient and pray for Gods peace and wisdom in their lives.
And my advice to teenagers, cut your parents some slack. They are not mind readers. It may not be easy for you to express what's going on in your life but eye rolling isn't gonna help. I know you are dealing with so much! I really do! But you don't have to do it alone. That's what parents are for. And if you really still feel like you can't talk to your parents then find an adult you can trust. Seriously. Peers are great to confide in but sometimes you need to talk to someone who has already been through the teenage years and survived. An outside perspective if you will. Also: don't cry because you're out of nutella. When I was a teenager I actually emailed my parents when I had something important to talk about. Part of that was just because I was the oldest of five kids. So we had crazy busy schedules and trying to get time to sit down and talk was hard. But also because writing is an easy way for me to hash things out. Just remember when you're communicating with them, however you chose to do that, that they aren't against you. So don't attack them for all the stuff going on in you life.
So teenagers, do you think I explained things to your parents well? Is there anything else I should have told them? Parents is there anything else you think parents should know? Or is there anything else you want to know? Please leave your questions and comments below or email me! I'd love to help your parent/child relationships grow!