Oftentimes, we feel like our teens are always asking us to do things for them or with them. They want to go places and do things to dispel boredom. As parents or guardians of teens, we really need to encourage them to discover their passions, try new (healthy) things, and to really pursue their interests. If we’re not part of their decision-making process, their friends and other people will be.
In a blog post by the Ukiah, California police department entitled “Busy Teens Stay Out of Trouble,” police officials encourage parents to “keep them busy…because filling their time with positive activities reduces those opportunities for risky behavior.” This informs us that we need to participate in our teens’ lives and help them find activities they are passionate about.
Busyness is a good remedy for boredom and poor choices that result from having nothing to do. We’re all guilty of making the statement, “I’m bored,” but do we even know what boredom means?
According to Merriam-Webster, boredom is defined as, “the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest.” Teens are searching for something to interest them. Unfortunately, they will also use boredom as an excuse for lacking motivation or even as a reason for making poor choices and taking unnecessary risks.
Some risky behaviors being idle can contribute to include drinking, doing drugs, acting out online, and making poor decisions with friends. In addition, things somehow seem less risky when you’re doing it as a group and not as an individual. Groupthink frequently comes into play. According to Psychology Today, groupthink causes decisions to be made without members expressing doubts, as well as ignoring rational thinking and moral consequences. Rationale is often missing when teens get together and have nothing to do, but want to entertain themselves or find something “fun.”
As people who once used to be teenagers, it’s our responsibility to help our kids discover fun things to do that aren’t harmful to them or to their futures.
How do we prevent idle minds and idle behaviors? We make moments. Our teens may not remember what they did with us, but they will remember that we took time out of our lives to help them pursue an interest or a passion they had or even help them discover a new activity. This quality time can make all the difference in a teenager’s life.
I often see teens that were persuaded to make the wrong choices because of their friends and the lack of parental intervention. They made poor decisions because they were bored and were looking for something fun to do and occupy their time. But, we have the ability to help them learn how to find healthy outlets to avoid idleness. This is why it is so very important that we do what we can today to impact the lives of our teenagers for tomorrow.
By // Rev. Georgia Morrison