My teen son came home tonight after a youth meeting at church. He said, "Mom, they finally took your advice. They had a speaker tonight that didn't talk to us like we were in grade school."
He made me laugh, but he also re-affirmed what I have tried to explain to teachers, other parents, catechists. Teen children in 2012 are not the teen children we were.
Their world is different. So vastly different; they have access to information, relationships, opportunities, many with consequences that an adult wouldn't be able to handle. The cell phone, the computer, twitter, iPhone: things capable of placing them in adult situations.
Telling our children simplistically, "Don't do this!" isn't going to affect a decision, or change their heart. Our parenting and leadership goal should be one of information, consequences explained, and why we take the stance we do regarding the action.
Our children can obtain things we wouldn't dream of, via the internet. They can find out about things our world would never encounter, via a two minute search on the computer. They can text a friend, receive a photo they never even asked for. Their world is one where our imagination stops short.
Most poor decisions are made under the condition of impulsivity. What is more impulsive than a teen? With body competing with mind for all that the world offers. My belief is that if we present the facts, raw and straight forward, about the potential risk of destructive behavior, then that information will be at their brain's surface when a situation arises.
It is the unknown, the undiscussed, the unpresented, that comes looking for them. When it knocks at their door, I want my children to call up the knowledge I've put out to them. Just that niggling of information that knocks around their sharp, young brains, may just be the pause they need, that makes them look twice before they take a step in the wrong direction.