You never want to have THAT teenager. You know, the one with the attitude, the permanent scowl, the complete disrespect for all authority (I know I just described around 68% of all teenagers). I’m not just talking about an occasional bad attitude. I’m talking about ‘punk’ kids (that’s the technical term). I worked with punk kids as a youth pastor. I know I’m supposed to like everyone, but I didn’t like them. They were punks. I was happy to see them walk across that graduation stage and become the college pastor’s problem. (They usually took care of the problem themselves and dropped out of church while in college).
Obviously there are several factors that lead to your toddler turning into a punk as a teenager, but here’s one that was common in all the punks I had the “privilege” of working with: they were spoiled rotten. They’d always had everything handed to them. Everything. This leads to the second tension that parents face when raising kids in today’s society:
2. Spoiling vs. Serving. I know you love your kids. That’s not a bad thing. Spoiling them is. I know you may have had a rough childhood and want the best for your kid, but spoiling them only feeds their sense of entitlement and natural narcissism. This will only get worse over time. These are the teenagers who disrespect all authority, including their parents. They’ve grown up hearing that they’re the center of the universe, and after awhile they began to believe it. These are the punk kids.
The solution is to teach your child to serve others at an early age. Better yet, serve alongside them as you serve others together. When my oldest child was just three I took him down to the city bus station. Some of our high schoolers were going down there to hand out bottles of water to the local homeless population that tended to congregate there. My son handed out bottled water right alongside me and the high schoolers. Why? Because I want his earliest memories to be of him serving other people. Serving is how you break the sense of entitlement.
Be intentional. Find a way to serve WITH your child. Don’t just serve your child.
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