Hi there and welcome to Part 2 of this post!
In Part 1 I discussed how we can teach our kids to work hard and wait patiently for achieving real success and influence. Today, In Part 2 we will look at two other areas of life that today’s adolescents are missing basic lessons on: the hard work and patience it takes in overcoming challenges and having relationships.
Working Hard through LIFE’S CHALLENGES
Waiting and working through the process of seeing a challenge resolved is hard! Most people want to get to the resolution fast! Think about it: I know people who will intentionally wait until a series is on Netflix so they can binge-watch the whole season in a day or two. They want to get to the resolution quickly! I also know someone who will google to see who wins at the end of a competition show, because they can’t take not knowing the outcome. Maybe you can relate? Have you ever peaked at the end of a story to see how it ends? No one enjoys problems, and we all would choose to have them resolved the sooner, the better!
Many teens these days don’t want to wait to see how things are resolved…they want answers..NOW, and they want problems to be fixed on-demand. Our kids need to know that in real life, things aren’t always resolved so quickly. Sometimes we must go through tough times in order to develop the strength we need to be ready for what God has for us. Resolutions and answers sometimes takes years, but it is the process of waiting for answers and overcoming challenges that prepare us for the next level.
“but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
Romans 5: 3-4
Communicate to your teen, “God has called you and created you for a purpose. Your job is to discover what that purpose is.” I often explain when I talk to groups that your calling is discovered in that unique place where your natural talents and gifts collide with your personal life experiences (good and bad) and with what really interests and excites you. Those things will all point you to your calling if you are paying attention! The trials you face, the struggles you overcome, the challenges you fight through, the hardships you endure…are building the character you need to fulfill your calling…and it takes time!
Our kids to learn to “dig deep.” What I mean by that, is their foundation, their identity, their beliefs must be deeply rooted in Christ. As they press in to challenges, they develop strength of character and resilience. With each storm they endure, their job is to figure out what God is teaching them through that, and how they can apply that lesson in life. When they learn to do this, it helps alleviate the common fear, anxiety, “why me” whining and victim mentality that hold a lot of people back when things aren’t going their way.
“They will be like tress planted by the streams, whose roots reach down to the water. They won’t fear drought when it comes; their leaves will remain green. They won’t be stressed in the time of drought or fail to bear fruit.”
The answer to the stress and anxiety our young people feel so much these days is to have their roots deep in Biblical truth.
Working Hard and Waiting for REAL RELATIONSHIPS
We all want to be liked, accepted, loved and noticed. Our kids are no different. The sad thing is, our kids are more “connected” with people online in these pseudo-friendships and followers, and are more isolated and lonely than ever.
God created us to be relational. We *need* good friends around us who make us better, and our kids due to the time they spend on social media, are missing this important part of life.
Our kids need to understand that friending someone on Facebook does not mean you are friends. The people who like your Instagram posts aren’t really supporting you. It takes work and time to develop relationships. It takes more than clicking a button.
When I talk on these subjects to young people I always ask, “How many have Facebook friends and followers that you see on a regular basis at school and never actually speak to them when you see them in person?” Almost everyone raises their hands.
Our kids are not getting the basic lessons in building relationships anymore. They are fearful to make phone calls and to speak face-to-face. They are uncomfortable with small talk and making eye-contact. They are quite frankly, rude and self-absorbed for the most part. This is hurting them and causing feelings of isolation and loneliness and will make them very difficult to have a relationship with later on. Here’s what they desperately need to be told: “a swipe right, a like, a follower, sending a DM or talking with people through online gaming does not create a lasting or real friendship. Real friendships require EFFORT and face to face time together. You must be a friend to have a friend and we must choose our friends carefully. You ARE who you hang around.” They need to understand that a real friend is someone who is there for you, supports you, and makes you better.
I have told my kids on many occasions, “I know a lot about who you really are and where your head and heart are at by the people you choose to surround yourself with.”
“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
We need to have real conversations with our kids about how to have healthy relationships. They need to know that they must take the time to invest in people who move them closer to the LORD, not further away. What I always say to my kids is, “Be friendly to everyone, but selective about who is in your inner circle. Pray and ask God to show you who these people are and spend time with people in real life, face to face conversation, and see what God does!”
And when it comes to romantic relationships, we need to teach our kids to WAIT. Again, having a boyfriend/girlfriend is something our kids want in order to feel accepted and wanted, but trying to rush that process too soon is like eating the microwave pizza (see part I for this example). It will leave you disappointed and it is nothing like the real thing.
What I have told my kids many, many times is that teenage relationships rarely last, and usually end up in heartbreak and drama. What I have found is that many kids are actually rushed into having relationships by their parents, who because of their own fears and insecurities want their kids to be liked and popular so badly that they push them into these childish romantic relationships way before the kids are even thinking about that stuff. This is a dangerous game to play with your kids. Instead, our kids should focus on friendships with people and developing relationship skills and thinking about the kind of person you would like to marry one day and what to look for in a person you would marry one day, and being the kind of person you would want to marry one day. There is no rush to be “hooked up.” Take the pressure off and let your kids be kids and let them develop at their own pace and just have lots of friends. Do not steal your kids’ childhood by pushing them into adulthood too soon. You cannot unring the bell once it has been rung. Those deep roots must be established long before anyone is really ready to even consider dating.
“Do not stir up love until the appropriate time”
Song of Solomon 2:7
Enjoy the process and the journey of life with your young kids and help them learn how to wait on the Lord and work toward for the desires of their heart. As it has been said, God is very, very, very slow…but HE is never late! These lessons are hard to walk through with your kids, but keep in mind: your job as a parent is not to make life easier for them. Your job is to teach them the life skills and character that they will need for the next stage of life. This will take hard work and waiting on your part, too! 😉