3. Teens are still learning to carry their own cross.
All of Billy’s friends have the latest iPhones and he wants one. You considered it but when you saw the price tag of $1000 for the phone, you told him this:
“I appreciate that you want to have more privileges like owning a brand new iPhone, but it’s $1,000. You have two choices: purchase a refurbished phone with your own money or buy the brand new one with your own money. Either way, you will need to pay for the monthly plan and any additional fees that may arise with your usage.”
Your teen says some not so nice things including how life isn’t fair and how you aren’t fair.
Often, behind the tantrums and outbursts of teens, is because they are still growing out self centeredness and entitlement. From the moment they were born, the world revolved around them. It was just cuter back then. We didn’t mind answering their cries of hunger or needing comfort. They feel entitled to have their wants met. They want maximum freedom without us holding their hands. However, teenagers thrive when they feel they are doing something meaningful or contributing to a purpose.
The key to helping your teen grow out of entitlement is teaching the difference between rights and privileges. A cell phone is a privilege, a warm bed is a right. Often times when your teen snaps at you, he has these two confused. The key is to teach the difference and model a surrendered life to Christ instead of a “me focused” attitude. Romans 1:21 reminds us of the difference.
Romans 1:21 “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
4. Teens don't mean it personally
You come home from work and find that Billy hasn’t completed his chores, it’s the third time this week that this has happened. You decide it’s time to take away his privileges, cell phone, the car, whatever it may be. Billy overreacts, yells, huffs and rolls his eyes at you. The key here is to remember this: Don’t take it personally. Keep your emotions and feelings of disrespect OUT of the equation.
Should Billy have acted this way? No. Was it a personal stab at you? Probably not. At least not unless you’ve taken it personally so many times that his outbursts have power and he knows it.
Parents who take every little provocation personally are teaching their teens that they are so very powerful with their every move. A friend of mine taught me the difference when I was at my wits end with my son. “You either focus on every little jab he takes at you or you can empty the swamp.”
This phrase allowed me focus on the issue at hand without losing my cool when he snapped, snarled or eye rolled. This also allowed me to model Christ like behavior during these moments as well.
Heather Riggleman calls Nebraska home (Hey, it’s not for everyone) with her three kids and husband of 20 years. She writes to bring bold truths to marriage, career, mental health, faith, relationships, celebration and heartache. Heather is a former national award-winning journalist and is the author of Mama Needs a Time Out and Let’s Talk About Prayer. Her work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, MOPS, Today's Christian Woman and Focus On the Family. You can find her at heatherriggleman.com.
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