They are normal I am sure. Good kids who are trying to walk that line between going along with the crowd or following what the Bible says. Kids who are deciding between obeying the rules Mom & Dad set or going their own way. More than anything though, the pull has been to obtain privileges which they have not earned yet.
For example, asking for full cell phone privileges when the older sibling didn't get that privilege until a much later age. Asking to go to the movies with a co-ed group when they have not followed parental dating rules. Kids who ask to be left to do their homework on their own, but don't do it or fail to turn it in.
I love the line from the Spiderman movie which says, "With great power comes great responsibility." I have said those words to my kids several times. If you want big privileges, show us as parents that we can trust you to make good choices when we give you those big privileges. That is what we want to see! Show us you are trustworthy, and we will trust you to do what we ask when we are not around. Show us some responsibility, and we might give you more responsibilities to manage. Show us honesty, and we won't be doubtful about what you say or where you say you are going.
Even better than a Spiderman quote though is a verse God has placed on my heart over and over the last several months. It is after Cain kills his brother, Abel. God says to Cain in Genesis 4:7a (ESV), "If you do well, will you not be accepted." I like the NKJV better which says, "If you do what is right, will you not be accepted."
I absolutely love this verse as a parent. If you do what is right, child, will you not be accepted? If you follow our rules which are set out because we love you and want the best for you, will we not see that you are responsible and open the floodgates to give you more privileges and responsibilities. Show yourself trustworthy first, and then we will be able to give you what we know you can handle.
As I have passed this verse over and over in my mind, it relates to me just as much as it does for my children. If I, as a child of God, can follow God's ways and stay on the path He has for me, I will be approved. I will not necessarily be approved by this world though. I cannot look to this world for my approval, but I will be approved by the Father if I follow what He has called me to do. Raising these teenage kids is one of the jobs He has given to Carl and I, and I feel blessed to have it.
As I write this blog or assist in a Bible study or encourage a friend, I have to remember that I am seeking God's approval, not the world's. I am tyring to teach my kids the same thing which is to seek to do what is right in God's eyes and not in the world's eyes. Those are two totally different things.
"If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:7, ESV