Like everyone else, I like teenagers. OK, maybe not everyone else likes teenagers, but I do. I have an 18-year-old who graduates this year and two married children in the mid-twenties, and my daughter is making me a grandpa. I love getting older.
Besides pastoring, I work in a psychiatric hospital for teenagers. Now some of you may think all teenagers need to be in psychiatric hospitals, but I’m finding it might not just be the kids who need the help.
I’ve been working in the psychiatric and addictions field for 28 years. I find it rewarding, yet disheartening. Joyful, yet said. Hopeful, yet doubtful. Someone asked me what the percentage of success is in my field. I answer, “I don’t know, they’re not dead yet.” You can be successful for years, but if you return to your addictions or quit fighting your “demons,” then that success turns into failure. I find that people turn to psychiatry more often than they turn to God. Sadly.
Teenagers have all their parts inside for adulthood, but aren’t at a maturity level to put it all together. That’s why they tattoo things they shouldn’t, pierce things that were never meant to be pierced, shave their hair, color their hair, braid their hair or tie their hair in knots. Whatever, they’re trying to find themselves.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (ESV).
That’s a mighty promise from God, isn’t it? Some parents might say, “Well, I did that and he/she didn’t turn out well,” My question is this: “How long did you train him? How consistent did you train her?” I can’t tell you how many kids have told me they “used to go to church” but their parents stopped taking them.
I can’t tell you how many “Christian” parents have divorced. When I ask some of these kids who they live with, they say, “My mom and her boyfriend” or “My dad and his girlfriend.” These are “Christian” parents, doing this all in the name of Christ.
I do an exercise with the kids in which I ask them questions and attempt to find their moral compass. Folks, we are in trouble if the kids in this hospital are any indication. “Christian” kids believing homosexual marriage is all right. Abortion in the case of rape or possible birth defects is permitted. Stealing is OK if you are hungry and don’t have money. They don’t believe that males should hit females, but they find it all right for females to hit males. They would kill someone for a million dollars.
They feel nobody has the right to judge them, and whatever anyone wants to do is OK because they feel it’s OK. There is no right and wrong. They feel there is no absolute truth. I repeat: They feel there is no absolute truth.
Why do they believe that? Because they have been taught it, and the parents don’t care enough to correct them.
Who teaches these things? Schools do. There is such an air of political correctness, schools teaching Muslim ways, even giving them Muslim names, yet Christianity is not allowed. Teaching evolution and not creationism. They say “you can’t teach religion in school,” yet evolution is a teaching of humanism religiosity.
They teach that a baby’s not a baby in the womb; it’s an embryo, not really a life. Yet a heartbeat is detected at three weeks. They pass out condoms, encouraging sexual acting out.
The media also teaches everything is OK (except Christianity). Promotion of homosexual lifestyles, sexual promiscuity and drunkenness. Shows like “Jersey Girls” and “Glee” portray teenagers and young adults engaging in sexual perversions. This happens when parents don’t parent, but instead place their kid in front of a TV and don’t care much what they watch.
The kids are a product of their parents. My mother-in-law used to say, “The acorn don’t fall too far from the tree,” and she’s right. If parents don’t dscipline their kids, they are doing them a great injustice! It was put so well by the Oompa Loompas from Willy Wonka: “Who do you blame when your kid is a brat pampered and spoiled like a Siamese cat? Blaming the kids is a lion of a shame. You know exactly who’s to blame: The mother and the father!”
Parents, it’s not too late. Be a parent. Teach them right from wrong. God can use them.
Joe Marzano is pastor of Grace in the Wilderness Fellowship, Shenango Township