Where Will Your Teenagers Be On Saturday Night? Part 1
Barrington H. Brennen, November 4, 2009
here to to Part 2
article is for parents and all adults who supervise teenagers. In it, I am
hoping to convince parents that they are in charge of their children and
show them how to lead with love and firmness. Read with an open mind.
will your pre-teen and teenage children be next Saturday night? Is this one
of your concerns? Are you having a challenge with providing appropriate
entertainment for them? Who decides where they will go and what they will
do on a Friday or Saturday night? How involved are you in directing the
show? Who is the boss?
have no idea where your teens are going next Saturday night and at what time
they will come home, then you are the child and they are the parents.
Furthermore, if you are not taking them or going with them wherever they are
going, you have a real challenge and are setting them up for a disaster.
other hand, if you are not comfortable allowing your teenagers to do
something or you are unable to go with them, then stick to your guns. It is
best to err on the side of caution. Research suggests that parents don't
impose sufficient restrictions on their teens after they get their drivers
license and often underestimate their teenagers’ use of drugs or involvement
in sexual behavior.
Teenagers do need supervision not because they are bad, but because they
frequently make poor choices. Most of the time poor choices are made
because parents or adult supervisors are not available to guide them.
Teenagers are oftentimes impulsive and have supercharged energy that
dissipates after a rush of adrenaline. Parents, guardians, adults,
teenagers are begging for your help and guidance. They may not act that
way, but they really need you. They do not want to do bad things. They may
act stupidly, but they are not crazy. Let’s help them. Oops! I think
parents, you must remember that you once did foolish things and wished there
were adults to guide you through the thick muddy wastelands of decision
making, temptations, self-centeredness, and passion.
Teenagers can make life-long positive decisions. It is during the pre-teen
and teen years many make their career choices and stick to the choices
throughout their adult lives. It is during the pre-teen and teen years that
many Christians make their life-long decisions for Jesus and stick to it the
rest of their lives. Many pre-teens and teens choose not to smoke, drink,
or use illegal drugs and maintain that wholesome lifestyle through their
lives. Here’s the catch. Although teens are capable of making life-long
wholesome decisions, their ability to stick to them is reinforced or
weakened by parental guidance or lack thereof. The ability to make wise
choices does not nullify the power of raging hormones, impulsion, and
adventurous behavior. This is why at all times toddlers, pre-teens, and
teenagers (disciplined or undisciplined) must have supervision. In my
article titled “Teenagers, Violence, and Culpability” I shared some
interesting facts about teens. I shared that “the age of majority (the
legal age of adulthood) should not be 18 but 21. This is why mental health
professionals sometimes refer to those 18 to 20 years as emerging adults not
full adults. . . . The scientists, to their surprise, discovered that the
teenage brain undergoes an intense overproduction of gray matter (the brain
tissue that does the “thinking”). Then a period of “pruning” takes over,
during which the brain discards gray matter at a rapid rate.” This process
is similar to pruning a tree: Cutting back branches stimulates health and
growth. This continues into the early 20s. . . Researchers at Harvard
Medical School, the National Institute of Mental Health, UCLA and others are
collaborating to “map” the development of the brain from childhood to
adulthood and examine its implications. The results so far are
astonishing. . . Dr. Elizabeth Sowell, a member of UCLA research team
states: “The frontal lobe where this change occurs undergoes far more
changes during adolescence than any other stage of life. It is also the last
part of the brain to develop, which means that even as they become fully
capable in other areas, adolescents cannot reason as well as adults:
“maturation, particularly in the frontal lobes, has been shown to correlate
with measures of cognitive reasoning.” In other words the research is
suggesting that the ability for teens to make good choices is high but the
ability to stick to them without supervision is weak.
CHURCHES AND HOTELS
churches and hotels have in common? They are both used as “babysitters” by
parents or guardians who do not want the responsibility of supervising their
children. It’s ironical that I am talking about churches and hotels in the
same paragraph, especially in a tourist-oriented society. Why? In my
conversations with a few pastors, I found that many parents take their
children to church on a Saturday or Sunday morning, leave them there, and
are not concerned or aware of what will happen during the rest of the day.
Sometimes their teenagers return home after midnight when their parents are
asleep. The next morning no questions are asked about how their children
spent the day or why they came home so late. Often the church leaders are
not aware that they are being used as babysitters; therefore the teenagers
are left unsupervised. Similarly, many parents drop off their children to
large hotels where there is a lot of entertainment or large open spaces for
roaming. Hotels provide activities for paying guests’ children only. The
hotels are not prepared to provide supervision for non-guest energetic
teenagers. Hence, when teenage impulsivity takes over, we can have chaos.
There are other large centers of recreation where, if teenagers are left
without supervision, there will be trouble.
Occasionally my wife and I visit a wholesome Saturday night spot in town.
Often while strolling and enjoying the sites, we would see dozens of
teenagers without supervision. These teenagers were not all from the lower
class of society. Most of them were from the middle and upper class whites,
blacks and mixed nationals. It was amazing as we observed their aggressive
behavior. They would sneak in dark corners kissing or rubbing up. A few
years ago while at one the wholesome Saturday night spots, I accidentally
bumped into two teenagers who were passionately kissing in a dark corner. I
was surprised to find out who they were. They were fifteen and sixteen
year-olds I knew from well-respected families. Hotels and churches must
have guidelines and proper supervision for teenagers and sometimes young
adults whose untapped energies leave them restless.
next week for the continuation of this article. I will share what parents
can do to prevent disaster.
here to to Part 2
Barrington Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send your questions
to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas or call 1-242-305-454-4999 or email
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit