At Mass on Sunday, during the Prayers of the Faithful, we were asked to pray for sullen teenagers.
When we returned home, Imogen was most indignant. “Why doeseveryone automatically think teenagers are sullen? Charlotte and I are teenagers and we’re not that way.”
“It’s the typical teenage stereotype,” said Charlotte. “It’s not necessarily true.”
I think my teenage girls are quite right. Society tends to think of teenagers in a certain negative way. Parents expect trouble when their children hit these years.
“She’ll be a teenager in a few months,” says a mother, rolling her eyes. Yes, she’s not looking forward to it at all. She’s sure the next few years are going to be very difficult.
But is it inevitable that our eager-to-please and easy-to-love children will suddenly turn into difficult-to-live-with teenagers?
My teenagers are delightful people: well-balanced, lots of fun, interesting, loving… Are they unusual? I don’t think so. I think there are many wonderful teenagers around. But maybe you are thinking, “I know many sullen teenagers.”
Could it be these teenagers…
- have to live with lots of rules and regulations?
- are not given enough privacy?
- are criticised for their choices in clothing, music….?
- are ridiculed or put down when they share their ideas and dreams?
- are not treated with respect?
- were expected to be difficult just because they are teenagers?
I want to keep my teenagers safe. Of course I don’t want them to fall into bad company or adopt sinful ways. My heart will ache if they give up our family’s values and beliefs, and I’d like to prevent them making mistakes they will regret. So should I hang on tightly to my teenagers so they don’t get into trouble? Or should I just trust them to do the right
“Should I trust you?” I ask Imogen.
“Mum! Of course you should.” It’s my daughter’s turn to roll her eyes.
She’s right. And I do.
But what if my teenagers make mistakes? Will I wish I’d kept control over every aspect of their lives? Is that the responsible thing to do? No. I think there’s less chance of my teenagers getting into trouble if I trust them than if I controlled their lives with a long list of rules and regulations. Rules can be broken. They encourage rebellion.
Trusted or not, all teenagers are capable of making mistakes. But so are adults. I make them all the time. That’s how we learn. But I’m confident that if my teenagers ever get into trouble, they will come and talk to me and we can sort things out. They trust me, maybe because I trust them.
“I wrote a blog post about teenagers,” I say to my daughters. “I’m putting the record straight. Not all teenagers are sullen. In fact I think they are wonderful people.” Then I add, “What should I call my story?”
Teenagers are People Too,” says Charlotte, without hesitating.