Question:

I have been a Christian for a little over a year now. I am 17, and up until I was a teenager I thought that there was nothing wrong with how my parents raised me. They are very laid back, a little too laid back. When I hit high school, I went wild. I am not really blaming them because I know that I would not be the same person today if my past were different. (I know that this might seem confusing, but bear with me.) Now, it's as if they are so different from me, and have way different personalities, and have different beliefs (my parents are against me being a Christian). I feel that being at home just sucks the life right out of me. I will be completely happy and everything, but as soon as i come home I get nothing. They are totally not supportive in anything for me. Plus they are in horrible moods all of the time. I have been getting better about just loving my parents for who they are, and no matter what I feel like doing. I'm trying to show them that I love them and hopefully they will come to know Christ. But I guess what I am asking is whether it is ok for me to feel that they suck the life out of me, and want to stay away from them?

Also, at youth group almost a year ago, we had this devotional and my pastor was making a point about something or other and asked us to raise our hands if we have never been spanked. I was the only one. Is it right for me to feel left out, and want to avoid telling people that? Ever since that incident i havebeen feeling that way, and just wondering about it. I never thought about it till then. Now, that is all I can think about. I feel like a horrible person and I just wish that it would stop. How can I stop this in my life? This has to be a sin!

Can you help me?


Answer:

Several things are coming into play in your life and they all revolve around your development.

First, when you were a small child, you accepted that your parents were bigger and smarter than you were. You might not like what they asked of you at times, but you still knew that they came from a position of authority. But as you change from a child to an adult, mental and spiritual changes also take place. One aspect of this is an awareness or knowledge of good and evil (Deuteronomy 1:39). In everyone's life there comes a turning point when you realize that there is right and wrong and that your parents, wonderful as they are, are not always right. You realize that they have flaws.

Like most people, you went to the other extreme with that knowledge. This is want triggers the phase many teenagers go through when they start thinking their parents are the dumbest on the earth (or at least close to it). In contrast, the teenager, whose mind is now capable of complex reasoning, decides he is far smarter because he is able to figure out so many things on his own. It will take some experiences to realize that there is another layer to being "smart," a little thing that we call wisdom. Somewhere in your twenties the pendulum swings back the other direction and you begin to realize your parents were smarter than you realized.

No one can "suck the life out of you." Things happen around you and you decide how those things make you feel. But we forget far too often that we have control over our feelings. You can control the rest of the world, but you can control your attitude toward the rest of the world. For example, I might be driving home and run into a traffic jam. I could get angry or frustrated, but it would be to no purpose. I didn't cause the jam. The people around me didn't cause the jam. It is out of my control. Instead, I might sigh "Oh, well" and find a nice music station to listen to while I wait for the traffic to clear up or enjoy the short bit of peace and quiet that I have before I get home to plan out the rest of my day. I still can't do anything about the traffic jam, but by choosing my reaction to it, I change what the rest of my day will be like.

Next, you should know that there are recent studies that show that teenagers are unable to accurately read other people's facial expressions and body language. They miss the subtlety and tend to assign extremes to other people's moods. For example, they might see someone annoyed but perceive it as being extremely angry. This makes life with teenage girls very trying as they tend to be moody already because of their bouncing hormones. Consider carefully that you are very likely overreacting to what you think you see and hear.

Finally, because the mind is developing, teenagers have a tendency to obsess with things. People want to be a part of a larger group, but during the teenage years you suddenly don't fit in with the kids any more, but you don't fit in with the adults either. So teens cling to their peers more at that age than any other time in life. But that makes you more sensitive about differences between you and those you want to be a part of. The fear that the difference might leave you out is triggering you to become obsessed with something that is an irrelevant issue. Before you know it, you are spiraling on the same thought over and over again. Of course, the more you think about it, the more fixed it becomes in your mind, so the more you think about it.

The answer is to see the trap and purposely distract yourself each time the thought pops up. Soon it will fade.

If one thing describes the teenage years, it is the time you learn self-control. Control over your desires, control over your emotions, and control over your thoughts. The lessons can be rough. That is why teens still live with their parents in these years. Someone has to be the brakes while you are learning where the pedals are located.

"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified" (I Corinthians 9:24-27).

So, I am not completely insane or a horrible person? I totally know what you mean about how teenage girls overreact because I am one! Is there any way to like turn that off, because it has been a problem for me in the past where i have damaged some really great friendships. Are you sure that this is normal? Because I feel like I am the only one who is like this. Thanks so much. Wow, you really do help a lot.

You haven't noticed how frequently other girls your age complain about how annoying, strict, overbearing, or dumb their parents are? Did you think there was a generational plague that all the people of your parent's age? Of course not. This is just a phase you are going through. Some people have it worse than others, but it is fairly typical. You can't turn it off like a light, but you will grow out of it -- usually by your early to mid-twenties.

What you can do in the meantime is understand that as a teenage girl, you might overact to situations, so when you feel your moods flair up, step away from the situation and after you calm down, reason with yourself. Was there something in the situation that justified the reaction? Was it because of what actually happened or was said, or was your reaction based on what you assumed the other person was thinking or doing when you weren't watching. For most teenagers, the problem lies in what they assume people do or think. They never stop long enough to wonder if their guess was correct.

As I said before, the teenage years are the time you learn self-control. For a teenage girl, it means not letting your emotions rule what you do and say. Having the emotions is fine and normal, but all your choices should not be made solely upon your emotions since they can be manipulated by others. It can be very hard at first, but learning to add reason on top of your emotions will benefit you greatly in the years to come.