Tuesday Talk: Are our teens being proactive?

How is your teen son or daughter doing with being proactive? Does your teen understand what it means to take responsibility for their life? As your teen gets older they somewhat carry the remote control to their lives. They get to choose the station, channel, show time for their future. Reactive people allow other people or things to select which buttons to choose and often times their selection ruins a day, a year, a plan.

For example, reactive teens allow scenarios like these to control their lives:

  • My boyfriend or my girlfriend is making my life miserable but I can’t break up with him/her.
  • I can’t make decent grades as long as that lady is my teacher.
  • My parents are totally messing up my life because they don’t let me just hang and do what I want.
  • If I could get a date with that boy/girl, I would be popular and everyone would like me.

proactive reactive

Reactive teens often play the role of a victim and give up control to others, meaning they hand over the remote control for their lives to their peers, their date, and the culture that is promoting promiscuity… A teen that has been trained to be proactive and take responsibility for their life will stop and think through the probable consequences of options before making the decision on what to choose. In other words, asking this question: “How is this choice going to affect my day, week, year, future, life…?”

In a society that consistently leads teens to believe “It won’t happen to me,” or “It’s only wrong if I get caught,” many teens engage in unhealthy behaviors they later greatly regret. They didn’t seriously consider the consequences – or the benefits – of their choices up front. Teens have a tendency to act on impulse according to peer pressure and their feelings rather than common sense and healthy decision-making skills.

The only way for parents to counter this normal teen tendency is to implement a cause-and-effect environment within the home. Allowing a teen to choose, while communicating up front, that every choice holds either a corresponding benefit or a corresponding consequence is a very practical parenting approach. But, for a teen to embrace this concept, the teen needs to truly understand the importance of making choices based on what they know rather than what they feel. Easier said than done, right?

So, let’s get practical. To implement this kind of learning environment, consider introducing a “stop, think, and go” approach within the home. Use this concept to help your teen make healthy choices in his/her regular peer environments and activities. For instance, when your teen son or daughter insists they have the right to determine what they will or won’t do, encourage them to stop and think through how this choice will lead to consequences or benefits. If the teen can’t articulate any benefits, challenge them to determine ahead of time if they are truly prepared to own the consequences of their choice – i.e., taking responsibility for the end result. This technique will help train the teen to process through minor life choices, which prepares them for the major life choices. This teen is learning how to have a proactive approach to life, rather than a reactive approach to life.

In addition to the proactive stop and think training model, consider sharing with your teen how their faith plays a role in their decision making process. If your teen believes in God and has a personal relationship with Jesus, help them understand that God has a sovereign plan for their life.  Each one of us, including our teens, is designed by God to not only serve Him, but to fulfill His perfect will and plan that He has designed specifically for us.

The best place for our teens to find God’s plan for their life is to be in a healthy, submissive relationship with Jesus, their savior.  He provides each young person with a unique combination of spiritual gifts and talents to fulfill His specific purpose for their life.

Any other approach to life, success, or fulfillment will never satisfy our teens, because, sooner or later, God’s plan will be tugging at their heart and they will feel deeply dissatisfied. Nevertheless, there can be a number of obstacles between our teens and the wonderful life God has prepared for them.  So our teens need hints and road signs to help them understand Gods sovereign plan for their life, and to help them be obedient to the plan.

God is the strength of my heart

God longs to walk with our teens and to communicate the plans He has for them. He yearns for every teen to invite Him into their lives. Our teens were not designed to live their lives according to the broken ways of our society or their limited human abilities. Their minds are not meant to cope with the daily burdens that are often presented to the teens of today.  God created them to live with Him!

• Does your teen know how to contact God? Teen rarely understand how to slow down, change directions and search for God’s plan. God promises to always care for those who search for Him with all their heart (Jeremiah 29:13).

• Is your teen willing and in an environment that will allow them to learn about God? God has a much higher way of thinking than we have, and definitely higher thinking than our teens have.  Failure, lack of faith, worry and defeat are not part of His vocabulary, and He does not want it to be part of our teen’s vocabulary! The best way for our teens to renew their minds to God’s way of thinking is by reading His Word and proactively learning about Him! Just like in any friendship, our teens need to invest time and effort to get to know God intimately. It is only then that God will reveal His secrets to our teens. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8)

• Do our teens trust completely in God? Proverbs 3:5-6 gives great advice for our teens and provides an example to insure finding success in discovering God’s plan for their life. They are given an opportunity to put their complete trust in Him. This takes away all the anxiety, and removes them from the equation as they wait for Him to unfold His plan for their lives. Will they make the team? Will they get asked to prom? Will their girlfriend break up with them? Will they get accepted into the college they want to go to?

Our teens struggle if they only trust in their own abilities and how they perceive things. They are given a chance to live by faith both in their relationship with Jesus, and in knowing He has the perfect and proper plan for their lives.

Our teens are designed by God to proactively serve Him, He has designed a specific plan for each and every one of them.


Unconditional Love But you don’t mention the Bible!
Unconditional Love
But you don’t mention the Bible!