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Being an adolescent has NEVER been easy! Even Jesus confused HIS parents when He was 12!
We could spend our whole lives learning about our faith- and how it is a gift.
I don’t know about you, but I had a LOT of questions when I was in elementary school (back then it was 1st through 8th grade).
I wondered what I was supposed to think about when I prayed; what did Jesus expect from me; what did it mean for me to “be yourself”.
As years past, I came to realize that simply putting God first and trusting Him even when it didn’t make sense to me was exactly what God wanted from me.
Still, I wish I had known or heard some advice sooner.
Here’s some advice that could help your tween today (and tomorrow)!
5 Words of Advice Your Catholic Tween Needs to Hear
1. God does not want you to be stressed out.
Be still. We hear that Scripture verse often.
I have not heard the Scripture passage that reads “hustle until you completely burn out.” Have you?
Our children are searching for their gifts and talents.
That can be exhausting.
And even once they find their talents, those gifts are there so that they can strive for Sainthood in a unique and unrepeatable way. Once those gifts and talents become heavy and burdensome, Our Lord Jesus has very specific instructions:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,* and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
Mother Teresa said “Never worry about numbers, help one person at a time and start with the person closest to you.”
Saint Katharine Drexel advised, “peacefully do at each moment what needs to be done.”
When stress comes, our children need to remember that they are loved more than they can imagine, simply because God made her His daughter (or made him His son).
Let’s make sure we are sending that message. Grades and success have their place, but we must love God with all our soul, all our heart and all our mind – that is what is most important.
Trust in the Lord.
2. One of your greatest and most important responsibilities is to avoid sin.
Saint Maria Goretti’s mother taught her to avoid sin at all costs. She knew that sin is so bad for us!
It’s common to speak about what foods are healthy and unhealthy in our culture. We are very aware that there are things that are “good for us” and things that are “bad for us”. But this is not just true for our bodies, it’s also true when it comes to our souls.
Sin is bad for you. Sin is bad for all of us.
As parents, we stress that choices are important. We may say, don’t do that – it’s hurtful to others or it offends God. But sin is also, simply put, bad for us too.
3. You are not meant to be friends with everyone.
Saint Francis de Sales gives this advice:
“Love everyone with a deep love based on charity,… but form friendships only with those who can share virtuous things with you.”
C.S. Lewis wrote a book titled The Four Loves. In it, he names and describes 4 types of love (affection, friendship, eros and charity). Of friendship, he says this:
“our ancestors regarded friendship as something that raised us almost above humanity. . . . It is the sort of love one can imagine between angels.”
His words are in agreement with Saint Francis with DeSales. C.S. Lewis describes:
“the little pockets of early Christians survived because they cared exclusively for the love of ‘the brethren’ and stopped their ears to the opinion of Pagan society all round them. But a circle of criminals, cranks or perverts survives in just the same way; by becoming deaf to the opinion of the outer world . . .”
4. You need to be intentional about thanking God often.
“In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18
We tell our children to “say thank you” all.the.time! But most of the time, it’s to another person.
A wise friend once shared a practice he had with me. He told me, “before I get out of bed in the morning, I thank God for my spouse” … something like that. After he told me that, I decided that I was going to make that a practice of mine too.
More about that conversation in the post 3 Ways to Awaken the Saint Within You
Obviously, your tween doesn’t have a spouse. But I also got some great wisdom once from Gianna Emmanuela Mola (Saint Gianna’s daughter).
I had the opportunity to speak with her after a talk she gave at a local parish. I could not believe how much her father suffered – even after the death of her “Saint mother” as she calls her. Did you know shortly after Gianna’s death, her 6 year old daughter also passed away? My heart ached when I heard that. Yet, Gianna Emmanuela’s talk spoke of how her father taught her to always be so grateful to God.
I asked, “How?, How after all that, can you still be grateful in those moments of such anguish”?
She took a deep breath (the kind people take when they are shocked you just said that out loud) and responded, “I THANK GOD FOR EVERY BREATH I TAKE!”
(read more about this at 5 Lessons I Learned from the Daughter of a Saint)
5. Believe in miracles. Believe in the power of prayer. Never give up on hope.
One quote that I made sure was in both the boy’s and girl’s Be Yourself Journals was this one:
“I plead with you–never, ever give up on hope, never doubt, never tire, and never become discouraged. Be not afraid.”
Saint Pope John Paul II
We know that life often has disappointments. A tween or young teen is still new to all types of rejection.
Encountering heartache and failure is a normal part of life – but our kids need to learn how to cope with it when it comes along.
This is where faith is truly a gift.
When she doesn’t get a part in the play or he doesn’t make the team, we need to help them practice positive “self-talk”. We need to encourage them to pray about what is on their minds and hearts. We want them to look forward with hope and not to fall into despair. This is so important and needs to be taught over and over again. I love the wisdom attributed to Saint Teresa Avila:
“We pay God a compliment when we ask big things of Him.”
When our children are struggling with math or lost the past 5 wrestling or tennis matches, it is a great gift to encourage them to go to God with this suffering. The more our children go to God in prayer, the stronger their faith will grow. As adults, this faith will be priceless.