The power of presence in the lives of teens


It is astonishing when science tells us something we know but perhaps have forgotten. Research now tells parents of teens how important their presence is in the lives of teenagers. Teens report that their parents’ presence when they are doing their homework, hanging out with friends in their house, or just hanging out is very important.

The presence of parents for teens is important for their feelings of safety and security. In our culture we too often bestow upon teenagers all the rights and passages of adults. They, in fact, can do many things for themselves. But they are not adults; they still need the guidance and support of adults.

But, science has not just revealed this important information about teens. Newborn babies and infants like to be near others as well. They thrive not only when touched but in the presence of others. A child can play quietly when in the presence of others. They become anxious when left alone. The connection of human presence and connection cannot be underestimated.

The elderly and those in recovery also benefit from the presence of another human being. They even benefit from animals who bring them love. It is not uncommon for veterans to talk of a life saving animal in their life. Sometimes the love of that rescue dog has brought them back from the brink.

There is an important theme here. We were created in and for relationship.

God has always desired to be in our presence. God loves it when we want to be in His Presence. God has been reaching out to humans for millennia. God created us to be in relationship. God continues to seek us for relationship. God’s presence with us allows God’s power to work through us. Presence is powerful.

Liz Gentry, MA, LMFT, LPC, serves as Senior Director for the Austin Family Institute. She has been providing marriage and family therapy for many years, and in Austin since 1991. She was introduced to the field of Marriage and Family Therapy while a Specialized Foster Parent from the late 1960's through the early 1980's in Massachusetts. The experience of having a wonderful Family Therapist for five years contributed to successful foster parenting as well as the recognition of the value of Marriage and Family Therapy.

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