If you are a parent of teenagers, you have a teen who struggles with doubt and fear.
We have all heard that kids can be cruel. The filter that prevents “mature grown ups” from spurting out offensive comments, has not yet developed in most kids. From toddlers to teens, whatever runs through their minds, tends to come out of their mouths. The level of insult, emotional injury and damage to self esteem can be tremendous and is only limited by their vocabulary.
Violence and bullying are on the rise and get a ton of attention in the schools and the media. Even cyber bullying has garnered attention as a new threat to young people. While I agree that the words spewed from one teen to another can be harsh, I also know from my own experience that many of those words became my own. I heard the mean and degrading words spoken to me and about me, then I took them as my own and began to repeat them, to use them in referring to myself.
There is no worse enemy than a good friend gone bad. They know all your secrets, all your weaknesses and how to hurt you the most. When you hate you, the effect is tremendous, and I did. I became my own worst enemy. I also foolishly taught my children to see me the same way. It took a few years to undo that damage.
You cannot give what you do not have. As parents we need confidence and self esteem in abundance to give it away to our teens.
The toughest critic you will ever have, the harshest words you will ever hear spoken to you, the most fickle intent you will ever try to discern will come from the face staring back at you. I challenge you to look in the mirror and say something positive, hopeful and loving to the person looking back at you.
“You are capable!”
“You are talented!”
“You are worthwhile!”
“You are beautiful in so many ways!”
Will you let me help you to create a new daily habit?
I want you to write this down and place it in your wallet or type it into your cellphone. Create a meme as your lock screen so you see it every time your phone rings.
“I am the best me ever made. There is not another one. No one can be a better me. No one can love like me, smile like me, laugh like me or live like me. Today I will be happy to be me and I will be proud of me.”
Now read it out loud with me… Again… Again… Like you believe it now… How does that feel?
Imagine for a moment that you had a list of other things that were uniquely you, your goals, your dreams, your visions. What if you made a list of them and read them aloud every morning after brushing your teeth? How do you think you would feel about those goals? About those dreams? About your vision for the future?
Step back for a moment now. If you are a parent of teenagers, you have a teen who struggles with doubt and fear. If you could see them right now, how much would it mean to them if you replaced I and ME with YOU.
“YOU are the best YOU ever made. There is not another one. No one can be a better YOU. No one can love like YOU, smile like YOU, laugh like YOU or live like YOU. Today YOU should be happy to be YOU. I am proud of YOU!”
How does that feel? Can you speak those words with love and truth? Can you feel the energy that the positivity of those words create in your teen?
How do you think they would feel if you said that to them each morning after you brushed your teeth?
There are many ways in which words impact us, but there are three things we must consider about each word or group of words to determine how much impact we will allow them to have in our lives. Consider the source. Consider the motivation.Consider the validity.
1. Consider the source.
Who is speaking these words into your life? Do you recognize them as someone who knows the real you and the truth about you? Do they possess authority in your life? If the guy mowing the yard three streets over yells out that your cooking is bad, how would he know? What qualifies him to give that opinion? If the answer is he doesn’t know – then ignore him and move on. If someone feels the urge to criticize your teen and does not know them, the same rule applies, ignore them and move on.
2. Consider the motivation.
Many people speak out of their own pain. Hurt people hurt people. Just like wounded adults, young people who have not received many positive comments in their life tend to intentionally speak hurtful words to “level the playing field.” In much the same way that a stranger who knows nothing about you, your gifts, talents, accomplishments has no right or reason to criticize, if the motivation is less than productive, ignore them and move on. Train your teens to discern motivations of others and to guard their own motivations for words spoken as well.
3. Consider the validity.
The toughest part of hearing hard words that offend us or hurt our feelings is realizing that the best lies or accusations always have a hint of truth embedded in them. If we want to raise responsible and mature adults, we need to challenge them to be honest with themselves as well as guarded against painful words. Truth is often painful. If we are hearing hurtful words because we have been hurtful, we need to take them to heart long enough to change our approach. We cannot allow ourselves or our teens to dismiss every word they don’t like. They need to be prepared to take an honest assessment and ask “How could I do this better next time?” Learn from constructive criticism. Improve your way of being. Then move on.
If we as parents struggle to overcome the negative words and to fight the urge to repeat them to ourselves, how do we expect our teens to fight through?
Speak life to your teens! Remind them DAILY they are loved, precious, unique and desirable to be around.
YOU are the best YOU ever made – and they need to know that.
Loren is a certified John Maxwell Leadership Coach, husband of 20 plus years, father of four, grandfather of three and Communications expert who loves to transform the lives of leaders and pastors everywhere! Loren has been training and teaching for Gateway Church in Southlake Texas for a few years as a volunteer. Check Loren’s availability to speak at your next event. Or visit www.JLorenNorris.com.