Teenagers are some of the most passionate, dynamic and creative people I know. Yet, too often, this creative spark is left to flicker precariously and sometimes fade entirely. Malorie Blackman
Meditation: I marvel when I watch my teenage twins. They can get passionate about a new idea or discovery in a blink of an eye. The have energy that is exuberant and contagious. They come up with putting thoughts, ideas and images together in ways we as adults would have never thought to do.
At the same time the cultural, family and school expectations that teenagers face can be overwhelming to them. They are dealing with overloaded schedules, outside pressures to succeed and peer pressures to become inauthentic, just to fit in. Additionally teenagers often struggle with internal challenges of emotional imbalance, self-esteem issues and feelings of loneliness or “not fitting in”. Many teenagers either shut down emotionally, isolate, overschedule their lives or use maladapted coping strategies that include numbing by substance to feel better. How do we parents and adults support teenagers so that their passion, creativity and positive energy does not fade away? I learned that being an “available parent” goes a long way so that the flickering spark receives some protection when needed, but also enough air and space, so that it is not being “smothered”. (An important guide for me to consciously practice this balance has been John Duffy’s book “The available parent”).
Prayer: God, help us see the amazing sparks in our teenagers. Help us to be emotionally and physically present enough to augment, foster, encourage and admire their light. God, help us to become available parents and adults who do not cause additional stress by uploading our anxieties and expectations unto our teens. Help us to shelter their burning wicks while giving them enough oxygen and space to breathe on their own. Help us to find this balance of presence, structuring, support and space giving, so that throughout our teenagers’ years of challenges they will be able to keep their passion, energy and creativity alive.
A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not quench… (Matthew 12:20a)