Many of you are rejoicing today as your kids have returned to school. Others of you are sorrowful and maybe frightened or concerned as your beloved children have made a big transition this year. 
I want to focus on the teenage years this week in my posts. Today, Wednesday, and Friday I will be writing about parenting teens. To say parenting teens in this time in history is difficult
is an understatement. We are facing unbelievable obstacles in raising our
children to be godly in an ungodly world. In ancient biblical culture there was
no such thing as a teenage time of life; a person went from being a child to an
adult.
By the 19th century, at the age of 13 in the USA you
could marry or get a full time job. This went on until laws were created to get
children out of forced labor and into school. There is a lot that has changed
about the teen years since then! I was shocked to learn that until the 1920’s
the word “Teenager” didn’t exist! It was around that time adults began to
stretch out the time between childhood and adulthood, prolonging the time the chi-dult had to begin to accept real
world responsibilities.
The teen years are now largely marked by irresponsibility. As
a culture we have given this age group adult permission to play a lot and work
a little. We have encouraged them not to take this time in life seriously in
any way other than doing well in school. We have to consider that teenagers are
not miniature adults nor are teenagers children however our society encourages
them to make adult decisions without first training them to think like adults. We
have given this age bracket a bag of mixed messages and expected them to sort
it out using tools they don’t have.
Teenagers are our future. They will elect our future
presidents and law makers, and they will decide what happens with our economy. Today’s
teens will decide where we live (or if
we live)when we are too old or sick to care for ourselves and I dunno about
you, but looking around our nation that scares me silly!
Peer pressure, biblically known as fear of man begins much
earlier than the teen years in our present day. 
I am astonished at how young the kids are feeling the pressure to
conform and perform for their peers. Clothing, music, likes and dislikes and
even the brand of snacks the teen brings to school are scrutinized by his or
her peers. And honestly, none of these things really matter; they are the
primer for the tough stuff. 
Do you always do what
your parents tell you to do
?”
Today’s teens are confronted with pressures in the area of sexuality
like no other generation before them. It is much more than the age old question
of “Do you or don’t you” that confronts our kids. Now the pressure is expanded
to gender identity issues, sexting, Facebook romances, and acceptance of and
participation in homosexuality.
If a Christians teen chooses to heed the counsel of their parents
or church regarding sexuality he or she is open to overwhelming ridicule by
their peers. Teens who remained virgins until marriage were considered virtuous
as recent as 30 years ago, now they are considered foolish and sheltered by
their peers. They are targets for other more worldly teens, and even open to
being sexually assaulted so someone can boast of claiming their virtue.
Planned Parenthood in the schools presents an easy “solution”
for an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease. They also dispense
birth control without parental permission or knowledge.
If today’s teen dares to voice a dissenting opinion and disagrees
with homosexuality he or she will be labeled a bigot. Christian refusal to condone
homosexuality is seen as a hate crime in our present culture.  You must realize that many (most?) of today’s
youth don’t see it as sinful or as a problem; it has become socially accepted
by the younger generation!
Along with these pressures, there is the availability and
promotion of teenage alcohol and drug use. As a parent, you must understand
that the number two cause of death is for a person age 15-25 is dying in an alcohol
related car crash. Train your kids not only to not drink and drive, but not to
get in a car with someone who is drinking. 
If it were just “drinking” alcohol we had to be concerned with… while
there is no new sin under the sun, we have certainly gotten more creative with
it!  Today’s teens are inhaling alcohol,
doing what are called eyeball shots (and burning out their corneas in the
process), and using alcohol suppositories. 
With medical marijuana being legal in some states, it is oh
so easy for a teen to get his or her hands on it these days! There is also genetically
engineered pot (K-2, K-3, and K-4) which is stronger and more harmful than the
pot we (might have) smoked in the 70’s and 80’s.  Parents also have to be aware of what is
known as Bath Salts and Ecstacy.
As a parent, it may help you to understand that like
everyone else, the heart of a teen is fixed on indulging self. What the teen
thinks about, believes to be true (in any given moment), and desires is what
guides and directs his or her actions. Thoughts, beliefs, and desires are
almost always described as “feelings” by the teen.  There is very little difference between the
heart of a teen and the heart of an idolater because like the rest of us, teens
worship “self” more than anything and anyone else.
If you want to help your child navigate these tumultuous
waters of the teen years recognize that the issues facing you and your child
are primarily heart issues. While sex, drinking, drugs, disrespect, clothing
choices are problems, they are not the problem, they are symptoms of the
problem which is found in the heart.  
Demanding or commanding your teen to comply with your
demands might work for a time, and it may even work long term. However, you
have to ask yourself if that is what you really want to accomplish. Is your
goal to develop a person who complies externally but is spiritually dead or
hard-hearted?
This is the kinds of people Jesus dealt with all the time!
“This people honors Me
with their lips,But their heart is far away from Me.”
Matt 15:8 (NASB)
Unfortunately, what most parents accomplish in parenting is
to create kids who comply externally but are angry, bitter, resentful and
Pharisaical at heart. This is the result of demanding performance (out of
children of any age) without gospel discipline. 
I have already gone on too long for today, and I encourage you to come back tomorrow for my guest blogger, and then Wednesday as I continue this series on parenting teens in an ungodly culture. 

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