What’s fun about that?

It is almost like teenagers worship fun. They crave it. They plan for it. They discuss it. They look forward to it. They reminisce about it. What is strange to me is that I don’t remember my early teen years as being fun as much as being stressful.

Mark Hoffman, in his book The Joshua Principle, describes his adolescence this way:

“I remember my own adolescence as an unwelcome change from my happy childhood. I did not invite it into my life. Suddenly, all of my friends seemed to go crazy. Every move, every action I did was scrutinized by my friends and peers. It became obvious that many of my former friends no longer considered me quite as ‘cool’ as before . I was apparently somewhat behind the learning curve of adolescent ‘cool and acceptable behavior.’ They would correct the way I looked, stood, spoke, what I wore and most of all how I acted around girls. There were very rigid rules for everything. In addition to this, my eyesight started to go bad, pimples would sometimes erupt on my face, and I had a hard time controlling my moods, sometimes lashing out at my parents.”

What’s fun about that?

Growing up is not easy and teens sense it. Something in them wants to retain the carefree fun of childhood and something in them is calling them to grow up. They just don’t know how.

So, they make a lot of mistakes, most of them harmless and insignificant–yet to us adults, maybe a little irritating. They speak too loud, laugh at any mention of body fluids, dress in order to fit in with somebody. The next day they are exceedingly quiet, refuse to laugh or smile at all about anything, and desire to be alone.

What is going on?

They are . . . trying. Yep, that’s it. They are trying.

Trying to make sense of their world. Trying to understand who they are. Trying to find out who they are becoming. Trying to be an adult. Trying to be a friend. Trying too hard.

What’s fun about that?

We can help them. You and I.

Let’s do this.

  1. Empathize: put yourself in their shoes. Try to remember your own anxieties when you were a teen. What “off the wall” things did you do?
  2. Encourage: We are often better at correcting than encouraging. A rule of thumb is to encourage three times more than you correct. Another way is to set aside time to do something together when you limit yourself to only encouraging. Eat breakfast together, go get a smoothie, shoot baskets, something that enables you to encourage without correcting.
  3. Embrace: Maybe not in front of their friends, but let them know that you love them. Let your touch, a pat on the back, a hug, a kiss on the cheek communicate that you love them. Then, say it: “I love you.”

You just might discover “what’s fun about that.”