Surviving the Teen Years

Don’t for a minute think that I was the ideal teen back in the day. I was anything but that. I gave my parents the kind of problems many of the day wouldn’t think of doing. I always tested the boundaries. I was as independent as a teen could be. I was always into trouble.

I think the local police department had my picture posted on their bulletin board to be on the lookout for. During one period of stupidity I was arrested and charged with four infractions of the law for which I went to court and faced the danger of being removed from my parent’s custody. In fact, the judge looked at me and said at the end of the sentencing, “If you ever appear before me again I will send you straight to reformed school for boys.” I am so glad that judge had a short memory because within a year I was back before him for a completely different violation.

Well, here I am today, completely well adjusted (maybe), with my head on straight, pursuing direction and purpose in life and in love with God with all my heart. And I have pretty much been that way since exiting my teen years.

How was that possible? What made the difference? What was it that got my head and heart straightened out and my life headed in the right direction after all the stupidity of my teen years?

There were two things for me that were indispensable to surviving those teen years. And I believe they are the two most important factors today as well.

The first one is that my parents built a solid spiritual foundation in my life. Now, there were periods of time that I just plane ignored it and did my own thing. But it was there and they never stopped building on it.

That solid spiritual foundation consists of elements like believing in and teaching the existence and priority of God. Consistent involvement in church, and I emphasize consistent. It was never an option. Valuing the authority of the Bible and the importance and practice of prayer. Establishing boundaries and expectation based on Biblical principles. Even though I tested the boundaries often they were nevertheless still there. And there were consequences when I ignored them. My parents were consistent in building a strong spiritual foundation in the life of their kids.

The second element that brought me safely through my teen years to the other side was the model of my parents. My parents were not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. But they were committed to the same direction and principles they taught us kids. There was never this “Do what I say, not what I do.” They loved God and believed He should have priority and it was reflected in how they lived out their everyday life.

So what my parents were doing during my preteen and teen years was building a solid spiritual foundation for me to come back to once I got all my foolishness out of my system. And come back I did. And I have continued to build my life on that foundation ever since.

So if you want your kids to survive the teen years and end up with not just a good career by a life lived for God, you better get serious about the foundation you are building for them at the current time. Without a solid spiritual foundation to come back to, hope of a life with God is pretty much left to chance. And I wouldn’t for a moment leave something so vital to chance in the kind of world we live in today.

By the way, my parents gave birth to five children in a period of six years. Do the math and you find out that all of us were teens at the same time during one point of our growing up years. And in spite of that many challenges, they built that solid foundation so well that all of us are still serving the Lord with all their hearts today. Thanks mom and dad.


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