Teenagers—How Can You Promote Family Peace
“I AM writing to ask for your help,” began a letter from a young girl. “It seems I’m always fighting with my parents. I feel all alone and am often depressed. If something doesn’t happen quick, I’m going to end my own life. . . . P.S. Don’t suggest that I talk to my parents. Nobody listens to me.”
While you may not be as desperate as this girl, many teenagers experience similar conflict in their homes. Daily chores, curfews, dress and grooming, performance in school, dating, and one’s attitude toward other family members—all of these are common causes for bickering.
Nevertheless, many youngsters have found that the Bible’s advice, when applied, really does promote peace. And obviously, there are real advantages to being at peace with your parents. (See box on opposite page.) What Bible counsel, though, helps you accomplish that?
Should you not honor your parents, who gave you life, nourished you as a helpless infant, and sacrificed to give you shelter, clothing, food, and health care? Obedience means that you do what your parents ask—even if it is difficult. This is easier said than done! Yet, heeding the advice of your parents, who have much more experience in living, can make you wiser and shield you from some painful heartaches.
True, this may mean learning to do or accept some things that you feel are unpleasant. But this is essential training for coping with the pressures of the adult world. Dr. Paul Gabriel, a child psychiatrist, found that “coping children” are those that “can tolerate frustration.” They learn to handle disappointments without going to pieces and learn to accept the inevitable. The Bible also indicates that coping with adversity can build personality.
But what if you feel that your parents are overlooking your point of view? (1) Talk calmly rather than fight verbally.
(2) Use words that are “sweet.” Ask for consideration and help, rather than demand such.
(3) Be reasonable. Give solid reasons for your viewpoint rather than irrelevant remarks, such as, “Everyone else is doing it”.
Talk ‘Straight From Your Heart’
When Gregory was a teenager, he felt that he got little emotional support from his mother. Her restrictions seemed unreasonable. Without any real basis she often accused him of wrongdoing. Gregory’s inner pain led to daily conflict
“I worked hard to let her know how I really felt. I needed her understanding and emotional support,” said Gregory. “I helped her see that I wasn’t doing anything wrong and how hurt I was that she didn’t trust me. Well, she began to understand my feelings, and our relationship improved. Also, I obeyed her and avoided giving her any reason to distrust me.” When a youngster’s emotional needs go unanswered, often resentment builds. But heart communication with parents can improve the home atmosphere.
The improved situation in Gregory’s home can better be evaluated when you consider he was part of a rapidly increasing type of household with unique problems, the one-parent family.
The One-Parent Family
Presently, one out of every five children in the United States lives with only one parent, and there are similar situations in other lands. A single mother in Peru told of the enormous load she had to carry, such as working long hours and then caring for the household chores. Yet she said: “What makes life harder is when the children do not respect my orders.”
If you are a child in such a family, show compassion by cultivating what the “fellow feeling.” Be obedient. Prove that you are a real son or daughter by not only helping with household chores but also supporting your parent emotionally. Be glad that you have someone who cares about you and is determined to rear you properly. Successfully coping with the added challenges in a one-parent family will make you a better person.
True, no home is perfect. Nevertheless, focus on the positive points of your home with an appreciative eye and then promote peace.
Value of Good Parent-Teen Relationships
“Consensus existed among the [approximately 200] studies reviewed that academic achievement, leadership, and creative thinking of children was positively related to warm, accepting, understanding. . . parent-child relationships.”—James Walters and Nick Stinnett in Journal of Marriage and the Family.
“When an adolescent becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, his particular role within the family may be critical to his addiction and to his treatment.”—“Drug Abuse: A Family Affair,” by M. Hager in The Journal.
“According to one study, the more satisfied adolescents were with the communication and help received from their parents, the higher their self-esteem.”—E. Atwater in Adolescence.