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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Normal Teenage Problems"

....You say what?? "Normal teenage problems?" Yes, indeed, we hear this phrase often. A parent will call to inquire about Teen Harvest or the Family Reconciliation Retreat and tell us that their son or daughter just has "normal teen problems," or words to that effect.

Hhhmmmmmm. I tell you the truth. After 39 years of being a teenager myself ...uh! Well, I never got over it since I have always worked with teens since I was 16. The truth of the matter is there are two kinds of kids. The ones that make their parents happy and cause no trouble and the ones that worry their parents or even make them really mad.

Sure, some are worse than others. But I have learned that when parents say, "My son just has normal teenage problems" ...the whole time they are calling a boarding school for boys... what they mean is, "My kid is driving me crazy! I'm worried about him and I don't know what to do. Of course, he is not nearly as bad and some kids I see. In fact, I see many kids who act just like my 'Johnny'!"

The Bible tells us (in Proverbs 22:15) "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him." So then, it is normal for kids to be foolish ...these parents are correct on that account! But it also tells us that proper discipline will drive it far from him.!

I have known dozens of families, mine included, that have never had to deal with "troubled teens". ...what was that you said? ...that is because you never had a strong-willed child? Well, I guess you never met my boys! At least two of them had very strong wills. However, with proper discipline and training, they never did rebel, or vandalize anyone's property, or steal a bicycle or... well, you got the picture.

You see, children want to please their parents. They want their parents to be proud of them. But most of all, they want their parents to discipline them!!!! Kids instinctively know that they are loved when they are given godly, reasonable discipline and they feel UN-loved if they don't get it. When they don't get the discipline they crave, they will "act out" to see if they can inure the love they feel that they are missing.

Make no mistake about it. Kids who are discipline problems are crying out to be rightfully and lovingly disciplined. If you have a child who is doing drugs, it may be because they feel more love from the drug crowd than they do from you, of it may just be that they are trying to see if you love them enough that they can provoke a corrective response from you.

Oh, I know that it is usually more complicated than that, but a nutshell... this is the lesson for today. Is it any wonder that kids know without being taught what the Bible says in Proverbs 13:24 "He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly." Uuhhh! The rod? Well, yes. In the original language the word means "ROD". But that doesn't mean that you have to break off a tree limb and take out after your kid. It does mean that the child needs and wants an immediate response to their foolishness.

The best lesson for me came from one of my foster sons who shocked me, one night, with the comment, "Dad!" he said, "Do you now why I love you and mom so much?" I said, "Tell me." His reply, "No one ever told me 'NO!' before. When you tell me I cannot do what I want to do, I know that it is because you think it will be bad for me and that means you love me enough to say, 'NO!" He went on, "My real mom and all of my foster parents never told me 'no' or said why I couldn't do something because they didn't care, but you do care ...and I love you for it!!"

Please join us at one of our Family Reconciliation Retreats this summer, or call for special times. Visit our FRR web page at: for more discussion of how to raise happy teens!!

Enjoy the blessings of the LORD!

Sincerely, Paul