Singer/songwriter Michael W. Smith founded Rocketown in 1994 to give teens a positive alternative to the many negative pressures they face. The first of its kind in the Southeast, Rocketown has grown into a regional outreach as well as a model for faith-based relational outreach across the country.
For several years Rocketown operated as a teen club, then organized Sunday evening programming and special events for teens. Following the tragedy of Columbine in 1999, Rocketown’s board was inspired to grow the scope of programming and move to a central location in downtown Nashville. Mark Ezell, co-founded the current facility which opened in 2003, and houses a coffee bar; photography, art and dance studios; stages for live entertainment; and Middle Tennessee’s only indoor skatepark. To date there have been more than 425,000 visits with an average of 1,350 teens from across Middle Tennessee participating in programs each week.
Theresa Mazza partnered with Michael W. Smith in creating this great faith-based venue for troubled teens. I am honored she has allowed AngelaMD to post some of her great teachings about dealing with teenagers and maintaining your sanity. As most of you know–I have three teenage girls at home along with a precious 5-year-old. I struggle maintaining sanity considering that my older girls have officially decided that I am the dumbest person to walk the earth. This too shall pass I know but Theresa’s Sanity Post was helpful to me.
It’s undeniable. Teens have a way of driving us insane! The pants on the ground, the one headphone in the right ear, the short shorts, that evil “duh” look. These typical teen characteristics alone are enough to drive us crazy. If you have a teen in your home or if you work with teens you could probably add about 100 other characteristics to the short list above. Your problem isn’t that they drive you insane with all their silly teen behaviors and desires, your problem is that you love working with teens. So how can you keep the main thing the main thing? You love teens and you desire to see them reach their full potential.
YOU NEED TO TAKE A SANITY PILL. Of course I’m not talking about real sanity pills, although you might feel like you need to be on some sort of medication at this point. I am talking about five key things that can keep you sane when the teen you love or the teens you love are trying to drive you insane!
DON’T TAKE THE BAIT
Teens have mastered the art of making adults feel disrespected or stupid. Every time a student ignores you, rolls their eyes, etc and you react in a negative way, you are taking the bait. Taking every roll of the eyes, or disrespectful comment personally will drive you insane. When you address a teen, do it with a pleasant tone, ignore any bait being thrown at you. Repeat yourself calmly if you have to, and make good eye contact. When they see that you are not responding to their tactics you’ll be amazed what results you get.
DON’T MAKE MOUNTAINS OUT OF MOLEHILLS
If your main priority is to love the student you live with or work with, keep that the main priority. Constantly policing what they wear, how they talk, what they listen to will drive you insane. I’m not at all saying that having an influence over some of those choices is not important, but it cannot be the most important. Make sure your love for your teen does not get overshadowed by things that in the end you will both laugh about.
CELEBRATE WHO THEY ARE NOT WHO THEY’RE NOT
Take the student or students that are driving you insane and write out things about them that you love or know that they are. Example – Michael is creative, has a huge heart, and is a leader. Write down a second list of things that are stealing all the attention away from the first list. Michael is leading other students in negative ways, Michael doesn’t listen, and Michael is not responsible. Now, every time you see “Michael” or your student, make a point to celebrate by affirming or connecting with the things you wrote down on the first list. It’s easy to let the negative characteristics of a student still all the limelight. Remember, this student is a person that you love and has amazing potential.
LET YOUR YES BE YES AND YOUR NO BE NO
Part of your insanity is on you and you alone. You can’t say one thing and then do another. If you say you’re going to call a student’s parents, call them. If you say you’ll send a student home, send him home. Teenagers can not live without boundaries. Students will not take you serious if you bluff. And once they call your bluff they will drive you insane.
STAY AS CLOSE TO JESUS AS POSSIBLE
In all my years of mentoring teens, the biggest thing that has kept me from going insane is Jesus. Seriously. If I did not have a close relationship with Jesus I would have reacted selfishly so many more times than I have. Pray, get time alone with him, talk to him, yell at him, whatever, but stay close to him.
Now, go love on some crazy teenagers and keep your sanity!
For more pearls of wisdom from Theresa, visit her site at http://theresamazza.com