Adolescence

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Adolescence

Life Today!

©2018 | Bill C. Dotson

Identity

ADOLESCENCE…is defined as the years from puberty to adulthood, roughly divided into three stages. Early adolescence is generally from 11 to 14; middle is ages 15 to 17 and late is 18 to 21. In addition to physiological growth, there are several key intellectual, psychological and social developmental tasks that are squeezed into these years. The fundamental purpose of these tasks is to form one’s own identity and prepare for adulthood. At 80, I can barely remember the issues I faced during that period. However, we did raise two daughters and have observed the growth and maturation of five grandchildren. Only one has moved to age 22 and is now preparing to be married.

Is it any wonder the teenagers sometimes feel confused and conflicted, especially given the limbo that society imposes on them for 6 to 10 years, or longer? Prior to World War II, only about one in four youngsters finished high school. It was commonplace for young people still in their teens to be working full-time and married with children. Today, close to three in four youngsters receive high school diplomas, with two in five graduates going on to college. Thus, the age range of adolescence has been extended into their twenties.

Pride and displacement

Adolescence can be a confusing time for parents, too. But beyond learning to anticipate the shifting currents of adolescent emotion, moms and dads may be struggling with some conflicting emotions of their own. Pride you feel as you watch your youngster become independent can be countered by a sense of displacement. As much as you may accept intellectually that withdrawing from one’s parents is an integral part of growing up, it hurts when the child who used to beg to join you on errands now rarely consents to being seen in public with you, and then only if the destination is a minimum of one area code away. It’s maybe comforting to know that feeling a sense of loss is a normal response—one that is probably shared by half the moms and dads standing next to you at soccer practice.

Dads, this is really not a time for you to run off to work and hide until they reach adulthood. This is the time for you to shine, to take charge! Your kids absolutely need you. They are making so many decisions, the hormones are flowing as never before, and their identity is at stake. No scripture is more pertinent than this for you to make a difference. “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it” (Prov. 22.6 NLT). Your 11 year old is still a child—and post 21 he/she is an adult. You are to be their coach, their director, to get them through these rough waters of change from 11-21.

Dads, if you are not there, present and engaged, they will make their own decisions and/or be led by others. Are you willing to take your chances on their lives? In fact, you will exasperate them if you are not. Confusion creates anger and exasperation. Sure, they may not like a lot of your rules and regs and even your beliefs, but they will never rebel at your caring love for them, wanting your best for them. They want and need your involvement. Look at what the word says. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord” (Eph. 6.4 NLT). Not being there provokes them, exasperates them. They want you in their lives, teaching and modeling truth.

Absence says a lot

Your absence, especially during adolescence, says that you love something else, whatever, more than you love them. Your DNA is being formed in them, one way or the other. I remember waking up one day when our two daughters were starting to enter their adolescence, thinking that I really wanted to know them before they left home and for them to know me. I made plans and acted on it to leave a job that took me out of the home too much of the week. It wasn’t the best financial decision at the time, and maybe they got a lot more of me than they wanted, but I have never regretted taking that step. I hope they feel the same.

And you granddads, the same goes for you. Your presence speaks volumes to them. And what incredible joy you receive in return. Simply—TIME IS LOVE! Your children, and grandchildren, especially at the time so many things are changing in them, need your guidance. Your being present assures this will happen, that is, if you use that time wisely. Discipleship at the highest order and at a time it’s most needed. Your decision—what will it be? Your children desperately need you to make the right choice. Jesus will bless you for doing the right thing!

Article Notes:
Some info on adolescence taken from healthychildren.org

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