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and, as a Christian, not always easy to model behavior after.
When we look at Scripture, we see Our Lord as a 12 year old in the Temple . . . then we don’t really see Him again until the Wedding at Cana.
The years between 12 and 29 are quite a mystery.
“how could I help teens understand how they could be more Christlike, when they really don’t know what Christ was like as a teen?”
I remember voicing this concern out loud once.
I can’t remember to whom I voiced this concern to, although I think it might have been a priest.
I remember being given the advice to pray about it.
I’m sure I did in a very informal way.
I do believe that there is a small part of Scripture certainly that speaks volumes to teachers, parents, even to another junior high aged students themselves.
In Luke, Chapter 2, we see Jesus at age 12.
Jesus, as a 12 year old, displays characteristics that a pre-teen and young teenager have today:
- He sought independence
- He didn’t understand why He could not have the freedom He sought
- He had wisdom to share
The end of Luke, Chapter 2 is a perfect reflection for parents with teens!:
Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.
I taught this age group for 14 years.
I remember starting to really “bash heads” with my parents around this age.
Even though I am not yet a parent of a teen, this little nugget of Scripture sends me lots of reassurance and hope because:
- Even Jesus asked “why” instead of saying I’m sorry.
- Even Our Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph didn’t understand him at times.
- Even Mary gave Jesus the “mom look”. Okay, so I can not prove this. . . but -Jesus answers a question with a question, then the writer says He was obedient to them. I’m pretty sure there was a mom look between Mary and Jesus after his “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”. This is not based on any theological knowledge . . . but, I’m just sayin’. Probably got the mom look. She probably also had more than one glass of wine that night.
- Even Jesus sought independence that is meant for an older age.
- Even Jesus had to obey His parents.
So Mommas (and Poppas), remember:
- When your teen “answers back”, try not to take it to personally or engage in an argument. I know you would much rather hear, “Yes Mom” or “I’m sorry I upset you or scared you”.
But . . . Jesus was missing for THREE DAYS! Mary was probably on the verge of a heart attack. Look at Jesus’ response! The “talking back” might just be the age. Try not to get to emotional about it.
2. When you just don’t understand your teen – whether it be what they said or what they just did – find peace in the fact that Our Lady and Saint Joseph have been there.
It says it right there in Luke “they did not understand what he said to them”.
3. When you give that mom look and you just want your teen to know that he or she needs to obey you – perhaps bring up this post.
Even God had to obey his parents.
4. When your teen is seeking freedom and independence that he or she is not ready for, it’s okay – and it is important- to set boundaries.
It is clear by this passage that this is not a new challenge for parents. However, the challenge has certainly escalated in recent times with the prevalence of smart phones and social media. Study after study is revealing what our guts naturally tell us – these young men and women are not ready for all the freedom that new technology offers. Increased loneliness, depression, abuse, and bullying are just some of the problems teens can not seem to get away from, and can be directly tied to their phones.
*******How to Get Your Tech Loving Teen to Prayer Journal ***** this post I wrote might help if you need some ideas . . .
Do you have a rule or routine with smart phones and social media that works in your family? If you do, please comment about it under this post! I am SURE other parents need and desire ideas . . . because ultimately . .
5. A twelve year old’s (and a 13, 14, 15, 16 year old’s . . . ) duty is to obey his parents.
Jesus COULD have said, “I know I’m right, I know these men don’t know what I know . . . ” He could have said many things, but, he didn’t. He obeyed his parents.
I realize parenting this age group has a lot of complicated moments. But please, keep praying for your child and praying with your child!
Take time to just breathe and as Mary, Our Mother, to help you think and act calmly and lovingly.
And if you have to, remind your child that even God had to listen to His parents!
No wonder why Mary encouraged Jesus make more wine for the first miracle! Parenting is hard!
If you have a daughter who is a young teen – or soon will be: these posts might also help:
Dear Beautiful 13 Year Old . . .
Also, Be Yourself: A Journal for Catholic Girls might be a good tool for both you and your daughter to bond and talk about identity and one’s God given mission.