This article is written out of a passion and understanding of the mind and heart of the teen and young adult, who are just as valuable as the well-established adult, who has enjoyed a level of success and has earned their voice.
Questions I would love to ask every youth:
Do you feel restricted as a youth? Do you think no one understands you? Do you often feel misjudged and underestimated? Do you feel out of place and alone? Do you often ask, “What do adults think of youth?”
Here is one thing to consider; adults often misjudge you or they perceive who you are based on their experiences at you age and today’s stereotypes. You are either disrespectful, or you cannot be trusted, or you are interested in doing all the wrong things. Maybe you are often described as rebellious heading towards a slippery slope to destruction. Some may even say to you, “you are a waste of time”, undependable and more. I know it can be painful to have these tags pinned on you, and you know to yourself, you are not like that.
Let’s flip the page; you are also seen by some as “smart”, promising and as having great potential.
Please understand that parents and adults, are becoming more and more knowledgeable and are better guarded, these days, against abusive or demeaning communication that damage your image and corrupt the healthy perception you may have about yourself. Parents are being exposed to parental skills that are allowing them to be more effective. You are essential to that learning experience, whether you like it or not. One must admit the importance of having your parent’s approval, it is something any son or daughter lives for. You, however must remember the importance of staying positive even when that approval is not forthcoming.
Some of your parents are “old-schooled”, as we say. They do not know how to patiently communicate to you and to reason with you, giving you the opportunity to be educated on the reasons and that context that drives them to make decisions about you and what discipline measures should be meted out and when. But the truth is, parents, for the most part of it, love their kids and are willing to make extreme sacrifices to make sure their needs are met daily.
Once you seek to understand how your parents think, you would be a better recipient of their grooming and training and their disciplinary measures, if you seriously think about it, these disciplinary measures are not taken with the intent to destroy you but rather to break bad habits and build the new. Their aim is to steer you in the right direction. Choosing to be positive about your childhood experiences, and to embrace every growing up situation as a learning opportunity, would you allow you to show an attitude of appreciation, objectivity and love.
Grown-ups may misjudge you, they may put you down, not expecting you to amount to anything much. This requires you to keep believing in your ability, your strength, your gifts and your potential. Do not listen to inappropriate statements or lies about who you are and your abilities. Focus on the truth about you. This would allow you to focus on being obedient, thereby seeing the big picture, even when you feel that you have been disrespected by the way you are misjudged or spoken to. In these times, you need to search within and believe in who you are and who you are growing up to be. God places the same amount of value on you as he places on an adult.
Maintaining respect with a voice
It is important that you seek to honour your parents; it is a fact that they are ordained by God to be your parents, to nurture, protect and support you towards independence and good success.
Consider this verse:
Proverbs 6:20 “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother.”
Solomon is writing these words, but they are words that are inspired by God himself. When we honour and obey our parents, we are allowing God’s authority on earth to rule over us and to influence us, we are allowing God to protect us. Parents are filled with wisdom, parental instincts and discernment and generally when they speak, they speak from a deep place, out of sincere love and care for us and a wealth of experience and foresight.
As teens and young adults, you are now able to reason and form your own opinion about endless topics. This means, that at times you would have a contribution to make, an explanation to give when you feel misunderstood, or even a solution to offer when problems arise. You now find yourself more knowledgeable, on some subject areas, than your parents, because of your learning experiences at school, college, and other educational forums. What is important is that your approach is polite at all times, but showing assertiveness and confidence in who you are. Do not doubt your ability to speak-up when you need to and to defend yourself ONLY when it is necessary.
You see, with such an attitude like this, you are preparing yourself for success, you are contributing to your future self, by honouring your God-provided authority. It’s his provision for you, to keep you safe. When you can acknowledge that, you are growing in knowledge, wisdom and into your independence, and at the same time remain humble enough to listen to those who nurtured and cared for you, in the tender stages of your life, you have undoubtedly matured into someone of sound character ready to face life.
The opposite outcome is sad, a youth who scoffs at the very people who loves you best, a youth who does not understand the comparison of his limited experience and knowledge and that of the adult who has walked the walk and talked the talk, one that has truly experience failure, got back up and has since experienced sustained victory.
My prayer is that you would understand your value and the reason you have a voice, even as a teenager and as a young adult; that you would want to stay under God’s protective authority so that you can be thoroughly prepared to present your God-given gifts to the world. Your voice should be his voice.
Resisting negative influences for better
Let’s face it, there are negative influences in life. Do a quick look around and reflect on your friends or acquaintances who have somehow veered of track. Maybe they dropped out of school or they did not achieve the minimum passes to graduate from high school. Maybe they experimented with drugs or alcohol and got trapped. Some may have chosen the fast life, the parties, popularity, sex and fashion, in place of education and self-development. The point here is that examples of consequences of trying to escape the influence of the authorities, placed in your life for your protection, is evident around you. It shows us the bad choices to stay away from.
The book of Proverbs, in the bible, has good influential sayings that you can ponder on; it is endless and boundless, once you start reading it, you would not want to stop.
Here is an example; “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction; but a scorner heareth not rebuke”. WOW! This one is taken from Proverbs chapter thirteen (13) verse one (1). Here is another; Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” I tell you there is so much more where those two verses came from.
We are talking influence; who or what influences your life; is it your closest friends? Is it that R&B song star? Is it what’s going on social media, or is it what’s going on at school, college or university? Are you influenced by positive forward-looking sources that you are not ashamed to talk about? It is important that you choose wisely.
Seek to surround yourself with people that would allow you to be the authentic you, where there is no pressure, whatsoever, to be someone or something else. Clad yourself with wise people, whose aim in life is to live a life of meaning and substance. Your associates should provoke you to discover your gifts and use them with all your heart, mind and soul. Value those who would pull you aside and tell you openly, just the way they see it, those who would warn you about the dangers ahead. Importantly, do not put your friends in front of your family. Seek to build your relationships with your family, far and near, do not neglect them.
Music is also very influential; don’t choose the beat or the melody first, choose the lyrics first. Have you seriously considered what you are listening to and why?
Allow me to focus a bit on social media, some describe you as “socially curious and curiously social”. Some researchers believe that social media has done more bad for young people than good. Forbes shares an article written by Alice G. Walton, on some of the negative effects it has on our mental health.
Alice studied Biopsychology at Vassar College and later received her Ph.D. In Biopsychology and Behavioural Neuroscience at CUNY’s Graduate Centre in New York City. Alice writes about health and is a Forbes contributor.
I found the information she shared on the “negative effects of social media” to be interesting, and have chosen to share a snippet of it. You can always read the entire article “6 Ways Social Media affects our Mental Health” on https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2017/06/30/a-run-down-of-social-medias-effects-on-our-mental-health/#3c0d2cee2e5a
Alice points out that social media is addictive, a trigger of sadness and a lack of well-being, it encourages comparison with others, which is unhealthy. She also mentions that it can lead to jealousy and gives a false feeling that you have lots of friends and are socialising. A review study, conducted by Nottingham Trent University, of earlier research led them to conclude that “it may be plausible to speak specifically of “Facebook Addiction Disorder” because addiction criteria, such as neglect of personal life, mental preoccupation, escapism, mood modifying experiences, tolerance and concealing the addictive behaviour, seem to be present in some people who use social networks excessively.”
As it relates to comparing ourselves with others, Alice believes that, we yield to comparisons when we scroll through our feeds and make judgements about how we measure up. One study looked at how we make comparisons to other’s posts, that is, we either feel that we are better or worse off than our friends. The study revealed something that was thought provoking, as it was seen that both type of comparisons made people feel worse, but in real life people generally felt better when comparing themselves with others, coming away with the feeling that they are “better than”. This however is not the same on social media, any kind of comparison has proven to be dangerous and can lead to depression. Be free to read more of Alice’s article by clicking the link provided above.
Be careful also about your religious affiliations. Seek something greater than just a religion; I urge you to seek intimacy with the one who created you, God himself. Let him saturate your mind body and soul. He is not someone to run from, but rather to run to. He can awaken you to wisdom and intelligence, you would never imagine. You think you have intelligence? You need to meet the Almighty, most high God who owns all knowledge. Now we’re talking!
You may feel that you are on your way to great success, and that what is important in life, is accumulating wealth and living it up, or you may feel as a failure, a waste of time. Whichever side you are one, God’s influence on your life can get you in sound spiritual shape, that will leave you thinking straight.
Consider this verse, one of my favorites:
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
Consider this one also;
Psalm 119:9 “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word.”
My wrap on this
The experiences of our lives differ. Some persons can speak of growing up in comfort while others can only remember, disappointment, neglect and pain. Whatever the situation, I wish to inspire you to look up, thank God for bringing you thus far, for your success and your failures. See yourself as moving humbly forward, understanding that you are only human, and you need others, but most of all you need someone greater, God himself. Accept the truth about life, it does have its dangers and traps, but there are those that God has placed in your life and will continue to place there, to provide the nurture and training you need to grow.
Do everything possible to allow the positive influences to impact your life, run from all that is not wholesome. And don’t forget the book of Proverbs, start reading it today.
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