by Mark Gregston
The parents of today’s teens are the last of a dying breed—the low-tech generation. Never before in the history of mankind has so vast an amount of information been so readily accessible to a group of teens. To put it in perspective, when you and I were teens, the amount of organized information available to the public doubled every thirteen years. Today, the amount of written information available for public consumption is doubling at an ever-increasing rate. Available information is not the problem—a lack of wisdom is the problem.
Our teens don’t need more information, and information is not what their hearts are longing for. Today’s teen is longing to find sources of wisdom and guidance so they can take all that they have learned, and all that they know they should believe in and make it a reality. And, as parents, our questions should be how do we stop sharing information with them and start sharing wisdom?
The Information Highway
The amount of information available at our fingertips is overwhelming … and it’s constant. And a teen’s social interaction needs to remain constant too, so they don’t miss anything. As much as I hate to say it, we are living in a FOMO—the fear of missing out, world, and it’s affecting our kids in ways that no society has ever experienced before. And since adults are part of that dying breed I spoke about earlier in the article, we can take breaks from social platforms without feeling the effects of missing out, but our high-tech teens feel as if they cannot.
They’re overwhelmed by the constant bombardment of images, issues, and incessant gossip online. So, they shut down. As humans, we weren’t created to handle all the information that’s being thrown at us, and it’s causing teen depression rates to spike because they are constantly being tethered to the information highway and everything that goes along with it.
What a Teen Needs and Doesn’t Need
Teens need to slow down—to stop and smell the roses, and they need to know how to take the principles and values they’ve been given and apply them to the culture they are currently living in. They need a daily dose of wisdom and they only way they can get that is to have a connection and relationship with you because unfortunately, the internet and social media has done a great job at trashing most everyone else in authority. And that’s a shame because it’s from those people in places of authority who have observed life and who can reflect on life’s happenings, that provide the next generation with wisdom.
Your teens don’t need another set of rules, or lists to follow. They need more wisdom-based models of parenting, and they need to have someone help them apply what they’ve learned. It’s better that you help them navigate the world, because if you don’t, someone else will.
And here are a few pointers for going about it: don’t battle the counter-culture ideas and philosophies with more information. Engage and arm your teen with wisdom and good counsel. Listen to them. Reflect on your experiences as a teen, share your mistakes, struggles, and hardships with them as a way of helping them go the way they want to go. Pray with them and pray for them. Read the Bible with your teen. And finally, if you or your family needs it, get counseling.
Mom, Dad … your teen is screaming for opportunities to get your attention and to gather wisdom. And their world of influence is coming up short. So, it’s your role to move into a place where you’re not just giving them information, but you’re sharing wisdom. They will gather wisdom from you the same way that you’ve gotten yours—from what you see around you, what you think about, and what you experience. So, what wisdom do they collect as they observe you? Have you stopped sharing information and started giving insights through questions that are deeper than surface level ones? And what experiences are you providing for them that display wisdom and action, in helping them turn from foolishness? You will be the most reliable and important source of wisdom in your teen’s life, so be wise! Your teens are watching and learning from your every move.