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Adolescent Development

Remember pimples, proms and puberty? You might think oh just to be young again and be in High School. It was so much fun. But was it really? Do you remember the uncertainty, insecurity, relationships., rejection, curfews, cliques and homework? These sometimes painful, often confusing years provide unique challenges for a teenager. There are four issues that stand out as being crucial during these years, fear, feelings, friends and faith.


The first one is Fear. Many men I am sure will remember tripping over there own feet because their feet were growing faster than their bodies. Women may remember the experience as they watch their bodies mature and change. Feeling like they never were as beautiful as someone else, and most certainly not like their favorite teen idols in their favorite magazine. Some of the fears of adolescents today is not measuring up and not being accepted. Helping teens to understand what is happening to them during this part of their life is crucial. Like Daniel in Babylon many teenager today feel out of place. They are besieged by temptation and confused as to what they should be doing at this point in their lives. The challenge for parents, pastors and teachers is to help the adolescent live above their fear. Jesus promised, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you...Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” {John 14:27}

The second one is Feelings. Teenagers can be walking hormones at times. For example two teenage girls can be friends one day and the next day mortal enemies. A snide glance or a sarcastic remark can be devastating to them. Loneliness, depression, anxiousness and low self worth bubble up to the surface in the midst of everything else they have to deal with. Increasing sensitivity causes them to feel persecuted, misunderstood, rejected or smothered. Young people need to learn how to “take captive” thoughts and feelings that contradict the reality of God’s word.


Here is the third one Friends. Peer pressure describes the tension that exists between the teenagers knowledge of the right action and the temptation to do wrong. Being accepted by a friend becomes the most important thing in their life during adolescents. Longing for a place to fit in and feel accepted becomes a driving force in their everyday lives. As enticing as it may be to fit in and feel accepted, it often comes at a high moral price.


Faith is the last one. Even though many teenagers are caught up in the fads of today it is also a time when many want to discover faith in something beyond themselves. Some hear it for the first time and question it. Others are grappling with the faith handed down to them from their parents. Some will rebel against their family’s Christian faith. However, for many it is merely a healthy exploration to discover that Jesus Christ if the only answer to the problems they are experiencing. Adolescents may question the authenticity of the Bible, an early decision to follow Christ, the meaning of salvation and the reality of eternal life. For some it is more like an roller coaster than a joyous ride. It is during this time that parents need to assure them of God’s unconditional love and acceptance. Adolescents need this period of testing and questioning in order to fully understand the faith they profess. So parents encourage your teenagers to give God a change to make a difference in their lives. Psalm 34:8 “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him.”


Blessings,


Paula W. Thomas, BMHC



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