What Were You Thinking?

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We’ve all asked this question of someone.  Today I found myself asking my five year old daughter this very question as she proceeded to walk out of the house in her bathing suit.  Keep in mind, here in New Hampshire it was 26 degrees today!  Over the past ten plus years in youth ministry I have asked this particular question more than any other. 

When I walked into the bathroom to find two sixth graders, each with a can of air freshener in hand, spraying each other – “What were you guys thinking?”  When the young man who just got his license came tearing into the church parking lot at 40 miles per hour only to slide sideways into a parking spot – “What were you thinking?”  When the three teenage girls decided to draw in permanent marker on another girls face at a winter retreat – “Seriously, what were you girls thinking?”

Well, rest assured, the research is in and the answer is clear.  They were not thinking at all.  Scientists have been studying the human brain using MRI’s to follow the portions of the brain that are used in decision making in adolescents.  The frontal lobe of the brain, which is also known as the reason center of the brain, is still under development in teenagers and doesn’t fully develop until the mid-twenties.  This explains why teenagers typically will pursue high risk activities -they don’t make the connection between their choices and the potential consequences.  The point is that all youths lack the judgement that can come with age and experience.

That is why an adult presence in the life of every teenager is so vital to helping them develop the discipline needed to make wise choices.

What are you doing to help a teenager learn how to make wise choices?

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Ju on July 1, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. Good post.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Melanie on March 27, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    I’m glad that there is actual research to back up what I’ve told my guys over the past number of years!! 🙂 (Teasingly of course) I’ve told them that the ‘brain fairy’ comes and takes their brains around age 14 and returns them around age 24!!

    It has helped to explain some of the ‘what were you thinking’ situations that we’ve had here!

    Gotta Love it! 🙂

    Reply

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