Tattoos, piercings, hairstyles and color, clothes, music – these are some of the things parents tend to make into major conflict points in our families. When generational styles collide, we often turn our own personal taste and style issues into moral and spiritual issues in an effort to keep our teenager from changing their appearance or acting in a way we find embarrassing or wrong.
Whether we like it or not, teens have always had their own unique styles that allow them to identify as a distinct group away from the previous generations. If you disagree or simply forgot, just take a look at your high school yearbook. Do you remember the things you wore or listened to that your parents just “didn’t get”? Sometimes you wore them or listened just because they were new and different from your parents.
When children are younger they typically dress and do what Dad & Mom say. Part of growing up is becoming a unique person. Not an exact clone of Dad or Mom. A search for personality and identity are going on through the teen maturing process from child to adult. Teens sometimes “try on” different selves in a quest to discover who they are. Can you recall saying or thinking “Where has my little son or daughter gone and what have you done with him or her?”
The heart is the key to this complex maze. What is the at the root of these new fascinations or behaviors? If there no physical risk or spiritual danger, then we should be careful to not prohibit things that Scripture has not prohibited or labeled as wrong. Our own preferences for style should not be raised to a spiritual level and forced on our teens. They will probably grow out of it eventually and ask the same “What was I thinking?” questions you thought went you looked through your yearbook.
If you do discover that there are true heart issues to be addressed, then it’s worth your time and effort to intervene, set limits, and maybe even save them from their youthful selves. Use God’s Word and help them study and discover the biblical answer to tough issues. They will “own” the real answer and learn how to be discerning for the rest of their lives. When we force our preferences and misuse Scripture, we can easily drive them further away from us and God.
Major on the majors, not the minors.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV)
in HIS service,
P.S. The blog titles and main ideas come from Walt Mueller’s book “99 Thoughts for Parents of Teenagers”. I personalize and modify the message, and also add Scripture.