One of my “go to’s” for adolescent information and expertise is Mark Gregston who leads the Heartlight ministry in Texas. His article on “Helping our Teens make the Grade” gives some good points I would like to share.
- The Balancing Act –“Our Teens are faced with a balancing act every day. Each day is a performance. But the balancing act gets difficult because as kids become more connected socially, they tend to become disconnected academically. Parents may tend to overreact.”
- Finding Connection – “Any encouragement for academic growth should be couched in the arena of relationship. Our teens are already facing a lot of pressure….school…to fit in with other kids..transitioning from childhood to adulthood… defining their identity. Sometimes our encouragement and guidance may sound like just another pressure. We can encourage them to do well, but if they fail we need to be ready to rely on the relationship we’ve built. A relationship built not on scores but on their inherit value.”
In the U.S., mental health issues in teens have more than doubled in the past few years. Many teens face pressures and situations that are hard to deal with, either personally or through social media and news media. We hear about disasters and violence, inflation and inequality, sickness and diseases more often and distrust of most authorities has become normal. If your teen needs help please seek out a Christian counselor, call the Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255 or get more info from the NIMH (Nat’l Institute of Mental Health).
Yes encourage them and give them the tools they need to succeed in their school assignments, but through the lens of if/when they “fail” or “don’t meet expectations”, they know that you are there to help them adjust and go forward. We are a human example of God’s grace and forgiveness, as the 13th chapter of I Corinthians tells us “Love is patient, it is kind, does not boast, is not proud, does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.”
Pray, pray and pray for wisdom from God as you parent your teen. Spend unstructured time with them. Play games of luck not skill. Throw or kick a ball with no instruction. Watch America’s funniest videos. Find out which type of instruction come easy and which is frustrating for them. Suggest a break when they have studied too long. Give them a “reward” for no reason. And yes take them to Church youth group to hear about God’s truths and have a safe place of belonging.