Tag Archives: Teen

Healthy Shame

I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children.
1 Corinthians 4:9-13 (NIV)

A friend told me the other day of his teenager who had been faced with the truth of their self-centered, uncaring attitude. When the reality of the teen’s selfishness set in, the teen was crushed in spirit and retreated to their bedroom to sulk. The father chose not to rescue the teen from their emotions in that moment, but to allow the realization and resulting feelings of shame to set in.

I have done a lot of study on the topic of shame and have even given messages and workshops on the subject. Unhealthy shame can certainly be toxic to life in an abundant ways. Shame, however, can and does serve healthy purposes as well.

When I was a young teenager I was gently shamed by a teacher when she publicly pointed out in front of my peers that I acted selfishly towards the group. It was not unhealthy shame which says, “You are an awful and completely worthless individual. There is no hope for you.” It was, rather, healthy shame which says, “Your actions are self-centered and hurtful. You can, and should, be better than this. Something in you needs to change.” That moment of healthy shame in the Home Ec room of Meredith Junior High School, and the awful feelings it created in my soul for a long time, was one of the most important moments in leading me to the realization of my deep need to change, and my utter need of a Savior.

My friend chose to let his teen sit in their room stewing in healthy shame, even though it was hard to see his child struggle. There’s a piece of a parent’s heart that always wants to rescue our child from pain, but it is absolutely critical that a parent have the wisdom to know that some pain and suffering is essential to growing up and maturing spiritually, emotionally, and in relationships.

I am concerned as I see a generation of children growing up with parents and a culture intent on shielding them from any and all discomfort or suffering. We seem to be under the delusion that any pain is bad for us: Cheer up. Take a pill. Entertain yourself. Throw a party. Whatever you do, don’t feel bad.

God’s Message says the opposite of that. We should rejoice when we suffer discomforts in this life because of the truth that our suffering produces perseverance, character, hope. I think it’s important to point out that the opposite is equally true. If we avoid suffering it produces in us laziness, foolishness, and hopelessness.

Today, I’m thankful for suffering healthy shame which taught me humility and my need of God. I’m hopeful that I have been wise in knowing when to shield my children from pain and when to let them feel their discomfort. I am prayerful that their continued struggles and sufferings in their young adults years are producing measurable depth of character, perseverance, and hope.

Sinatra Memories

This week marks the 100th birthday of Frank Sinatra, so I’m doing a Sinatra tribute in honor of ol’ Blue Eyes. My first real memories of Frank Sinatra came from the album Songs for Swingin’ Lovers that constituted one of a handful of albums my parents managed to hang onto through multiple moves and a young family. There were a few LPs that sat next to our stereo/8-Track/Record Player console in the living room which I ignored for most of my childhood.

I think I was bored one afternoon when I began actually going through and listening to my parents albums. There was Dave Brubeck’s essential Take Five and LPs by the likes of Vic Damone. I remember my first reaction to the Sinatra album cover when I picked it up was, “How lame.” Nevertheless, I gave it a shot. When I put the needle on Side 1 and heard Frank’s flawless baritone voice start into You Make Me Feel So Young, I was mesmerized.

This 80’s teenager, used to cranking southern rock and bands like Kansas at unsafe decibel levels, found himself listening to the entire album. It transported me to another time and place. It was so smooth and so cool. I was hooked.

I’ve been a fan of Frank ever since. My girls were raised on a diverse soundtrack in which Frank was an essential part. He still plays a prominent part in almost any dinner mix if I have anything to say about it.

He’s just to marvelous for words.

Sinatra Song for Swingin Lovers Back

The Maturity Shift

elizabetht via Flickr
elizabetht via Flickr

Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
Philippians 2:4 (NLT)

I find it fascinating to watch young people grow into young adults. Our children have been making that shift the past few years along with their friends and cousins. No longer completely self-absorbed teenagers, they have struck out on their own path and begin to display the maturity that accompanies it.

Interacting with our kids and their peers I have realized that there is a point at which I recognize a young person is growing up both socially and spiritually. It makes itself known in conversation when a young person turns the tables for the first time and actually shows conversational interest in me. Through the teen years you typically experience a unidirectional conversation. As an adult (whom you suspect a teenager does not even recognize as another viable human being) you are required to initiate the conversation. To keep the conversation going you ask more questions about them and listen as they tell you about themselves. When you run out of questions (or get tired of the teenager answering you while simultaneously looking at their cell phone as they text their friends) the conversation usually ends.

Then comes a day when the normally self-absorbed teenager sincerely asks you, “So how are you doing? What’s been going on with you?” As you answer, more questions come out. It’s possible that they’ve simply learned that social convention expects it, but I’m overjoyed when I detect sincere interest about who this old man is, what I do, and what I think. It’s a subtle shift, but when the two way conversation begins to flow I recognize that the young person with whom I’m talking has taken a huge step forward toward maturity.

Today I’m reminded that setting aside your personal agenda and taking a genuine interest in others is a conscious decision that must be made daily.