By Lisa Cherry
Dishonor is an iceberg lurking in the ocean of our teens’ emotions. Ignore it, or try to sail around it, and it’s a certain appointment for shipwreck in adulthood. Scroll forward a few years, and imagine:
What will happen when a boss says something that rubs your son the wrong way? Will he roll his eyes and storm off in a huff?
How will your daughter respond to her husband when he wants to shift direction? Will she toss back a sarcastic comment?
Frustration is a big challenge for teens, and learning to control it is a mark of maturity. It can be learned, and it’s a critical skill for adolescents.
We must help our teens get a handle on their emotions before they launch into adulthood and marriage.
One of the ways rebellion can get a foothold in our teens' hearts is through unchecked dishonor. Here are some keys to conquering this dangerous behavior.
1. Recognize that dishonoring authorities’ instructions is a developmental temptation in this age group.
2. But also realize that just because it's a temptation, we should not leave them helpless in their sin. No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Cor. 10:13
3. Set in your own heart a standard of honor. We cannot change those things which we passively allow. Dishonor must be "disallowed."
4. Learn to recognize the many presentations of dishonoring behavior: rolling eyes, backtalk, complaining, argumentation, storming off, silence, etc.
5. Set aside some time outside the heat of battle to teach your adolescent about this issue. Explain your standard. Use the following scriptures: Exodus 20:12, Colossians 3:20, Hebrews 13:17, 2 Timothy 2:20-21, Mark 9:35 Proverbs 13:1 Proverbs 21:23, Proverbs 3:34, Philippians 2:14-16 Consider using role playing to try out appropriate responses.
6. Do not have an unrealistic expectation that you will "nip this in the bud" with only one encounter. But don't also make allowances that this should be a multiyear project!
7. After appropriate teaching, explain to your teens the logical consequences of dishonoring behavior. The best strategy I've found is to not allow the dishonoring behavior to work. For example, if you get a dishonoring response to a request to take out the trash in the kitchen, expand the job to taking out the trash throughout the whole house. If the problem is a dishonoring behavior related to a privilege to go somewhere, the answer becomes a “no” to the social engagement.....even if you would have been inclined to say "yes."
8. Point out negative examples you see around you and the disastrous results. Do not assume teens can make these connections.
9. Pray with your teen for the fruit of self-control. Appropriately help them to understand this is a spiritual battle ground. Be on their side.....not the enemy!
10. For sons....in each one of my sons’ lives, I have had a pivotal mother/son encounter, something like this: "Son, you are now bigger than me. Stronger than me. And becoming a man. But I am still your leader. I will not permit you to dishonor me. I will not allow you to back talk. We will have a healthy and strong relationship throughout your teen years."
11. For daughters.....I need to recognize that there is something extra volatile about two women in relationship. I have needed a conversation something like this with my girls....."In your teen years I will not allow you to dishonor me. I understand the difficulty of female emotions, and I understand that you can now see my weaknesses in a new way. But you will not cross the line into dishonoring behaviors (which I then name such as eye rolling, sighing etc). We are going to have a strong relationship and work through our problems in a healthy way.”
12. Model honoring behavior yourself. Teens learn by example more than lecture. If someone rises up in maturity, they win the spot of influence!
Image: “Blue Inside” by Piero License: Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic via Flickr Creative Commons
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