Unfortunately for American teenagers today, generally speaking, we are expected to live with the freedoms of adults without the responsibilities of adults. This ultimately results in a kind of “bubble” of boredom for teens, who are encouraged to stay in an idle, immature state of endless foolishness, broken relationships, and immorality.
In my opinion this is a huge waste!
Teenagers, with all the energy and vigor of youth, could be so much more productive. So much more involved in the real world, rather than being cooped up in a prison of emptiness. This emptiness sometimes leads to quite unproductive actions, such as drugs and crime.
Throughout history, teens have had far different expectations placed on them than the modern American teen.
In colonial America, for example, boys in their teens would begin working as apprentices for a ‘master’ of the trade, who would teach them all about the trade during these years. Thus when the boy had grown into a man, he was ready to start his own practice in the mode he had so thoroughly learned. Imagine the huge advantage these young men had! Instead of dragging school out into their late teens, followed by a massive debt-incurred college education, only to enter the work force as a burger-flipper, these trained young men had years of hard work and experience behind them. No need for college for them! And no vast debt sum to be paid off over many years to come. This apprentice-system worked excellently well!
Girls (in my humble opinion) had it a little easier: they worked with their mothers in learning the art of homemaking. Because girls tend to mature earlier on than boys, and because homemaking was usually learned by their mid-teens, girls often married in their mid to late teens, while boys generally married in their twenties and onward. (As some examples of how girls often married while in their teens: Mrs. Patrick Henry was 16 when she got married; Abigail Adams was 19; Mrs. Samuel F. B. Morse was 18; Laura Ingalls Wilder was 18; “Lizzie” in Laura Ingalls’ On the Shores of Silver Lake was 13; my great grandmother was 15.)
This system worked well for both sexes, and there were far less “teenage problems”, like drugs, unwed pregnancy, etc. Teenagers of yesteryear were well-occupied with learning trades, continuing their (self) education, and contributing to their families.
Child labor laws are another thing adding to this calamity. Some kids, in spite of modern societal norms, desire to work and be productive, but they are more or less hindered by these liberal child labor laws. As a side note, child labor laws are an infringement on our rights. Parents, as the God-appointed guardians of their children, are solely responsible for the actions of their children. If parents think their teen is mature and responsible enough to work for someone else, and in the process learn the value of hard work, money, and reliability, as well as gain valuable workplace experience, then that is the decision of the parents. And if an employer chooses to take on the young person as an employee, then that is a perfectly sound decision. Liberals should not interfere with their oppressive child labor laws.
One option for aspiring youths is to start their own businesses. Many a teenager has begun a business that eventually grew and expanded until it was a major operation, even hiring employees.
(Some valuable resources:
Free eBook by Dan Miller 48 Business Ideas https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B-rPWAjrxiYqV0c4S2JvamlVcU0
Capitalism for Kids by Karl Hess, Bluestocking Press http://bluestockingpress.com/capitalism-for-kids.htm )
Another thing sadly lacking in many teens’ lives today is the benefit of the older generation: both parents and grandparents.
‘Segregated’ is perhaps the best word to describe Americans today: kids are stuck in schools, teens are stuck in high schools, young adults are stuck in colleges, parents (both dads and moms) are stuck in work places, older people are stuck in retirement, and the elderly are stuck in nursing homes. What a pity!
What if we as a nation returned to the ‘mixed’ model; where parents take care of kids (and according to Deuteronomy 6:6,7, this includes educating their kids themselves rather than leaving the job to a socialist government institution) and later on kids take care of their parents (by taking them into their homes, not by shipping them off to a lonely nursing home), then the younger generation would benefit from the wisdom and experience of the older, and the older generation would benefit from the energy and enthusiasm of the younger. In Jewish times there were often multi-generational families living in homes together as a close-knit family team.
Teenagers in modern times, at least in America, are taught to stay immature, to be wrapped up in themselves, to be ignorant of what’s going on in the real world, and to focus on the deeds of the flesh (see Galatians 5;19,20).
Teenagers are not taught (at least in public school) about their four stewardships: family, church, civic, and personal. Each stewardship is very important in order to enjoy a healthy, well-balanced life filled with meaningful relationships.
(Excellent resource on the four stewardships: Free eBook by Chris Stevens http://jesusforking.com/resources/Full+Stewardship.pdf)
When one keeps his all his stewardships maintained and in order (according to the Biblical pattern), not only is one happy and content, focused on what is really important in life, but additionally, there is hardly room left for boredom! There is still time for recreation and fun, but one realizes that life is not about entertainment; it’s about serving God and others.
The teenage years are a superb time for youth to study the Bible and get firmly grounded in the Word, which is by far the most solid foundation to be found anywhere. During these years, spiritual understanding and discernment should increase, with the help and teaching of parents and other mature Christians, so that when the teenager grows into an adult, who is now accountable to God rather than parents, they are ready to enter the Kingdom, and already have a firm foundation laid upon the Rock, upon which they can build their life.
Swimming upstream is difficult, and takes continual renewing of the mind and firm determination. When I see the teenagers around me living in worldliness, sometimes all I notice is their perceived “fun”. However, when I turn to the Word of God, I see the image of the godly young person I am supposed to be, and vain worldly amusements quickly lose their charm. It takes constant renewing of the mind.
Teenagers, let’s invest in our families, our churches, our country, and our eternities. Instead of conforming to the world’s sinful expectations of us, let’s stand up as lights in the world as we prepare to be tools fit for the Master’s use.
“And do not be transformed to this world but be transformed through the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” ~Romans 12:2
“And Jesus [during his teen years] kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” ~Luke 2:52