The teenage years and later adolescent years can be filled with turmoil for the teen. Physical changes, social dealings, and trying to find identity can create havoc in study, home life and moral values. In adhering to these moral values, teens can struggle if not properly supervised or cared for by a loving parent. It is essential to encourage values and practices to keep the teen on track.
The four moral virtues, which when applied to teenage life can be very beneficial. If they do not always manifest, as long as the seed exists, their advancement no matter how dormant they may seem may reemerge in early adulthood. The reason being is that many of the norms of teenage behavior due to hormones and development prevent their manifestation.
For instance, the virtue of prudence is associated with wisdom. Wisdom is not for the young, but we hope at least, our teens are able to form logical and good moral decisions against the most blatant of wrongs. We hope they will utilize prudence in not drinking and driving, or not taking drugs, or not being involved in various serious illegal activities. It is difficult to expect a teen to show prudence in all decision making, but as chemicals in the brain stabilize and the mind develops, clear thinking with prudence can develop later if it is already there.
In the case of justice, teens can sometimes have a distorted view of right and wrong. They may not have the ability to understand all the angles of what one should or should not do in their relations with others, but if parents can at least instill the basics of the Ten Commandments as a paradigm, then a good foundation can prevent disaster.
Fortitude is an important moral virtue as well, but many teens fall to depression, or give up so very easily. Teens need praise and self esteem boosting. They need to be told they are can succeed and when things go wrong, to properly adjust and persevere. The virtue of fortitude helps someone deal with spiritual, mental and physical problems.
Finally, the virtue of temperance is definitely a struggle for teens who are experiencing urges and pressures to experiment and push the limits in many ways. Drinking and sex are all temptations that overwhelm a teen. Temperance is put to the ultimate challenge with these urges both internal and external. Unfortunately, through consistent bad habit, the virtue of temperance can be extinguished in a young soul if not protected. Satan understands how he can influence the youth during this difficult phase and corrupt their innocence.
So the moral virtues are extremely important at any phase in our life, but especially important in the teen years. While hampered due to the phase of life, teens with parental guidance can overcome many of the temptations associated with this age.
Parents need to though understand that mistakes can occur. It is up to parents to properly manage their teens during this period and understand the conflict. Culpability for the moral offenses can even be less before the eyes of God, but although teens are experiencing these new feelings, it is important to still hold accountability. As parents, we stand before God for what our children become and it is important to help our children weather the storm of the teen years with proper guidance, restrictions and consequences.
A good moral life can be developed despite the storm of adolescence, but parents need to be willing to take the time and effort to water the seeds of virtue that were planted at Baptism and childhood. The world and Satan will take your child if you let it, but it is ultimately up to you to say “NO”
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