Parenting teens is MORE – more fun and more frustration. As a parent of teens I swing between laughter and great joy and wanting to throttle someone. (I never do, but the desire is there at times).
I want to be clear that having teens is so much fun! No one told me! They were too busy moaning about all the frustrations and “Just wait until..” predictions. Having arrived as a parent of teens I am amazed at how fun they are and the delight they bring to our home. They engage in real conversation about their views on life. Their sense of humor is wonderful and I am starting to see some parenting payoffs. This time in life is a wonderful rewarding part of parenting. But then . . . they Change!
The very next day, (or minute) I have a stranger, who looks exactly like my child, in my home. They just don’t act like themselves. What happened? My wonderful conversationalist can only remember three words, “I don’t know”, or they grunt in monotone and totally forget all vocabulary. My previous high honors student is now headed toward mandatory summer school (as we hold our collective breath and wait for exam grades).
My middle school student cannot remember where anything is or when anything is due. Two more words are added to the now limited vocabulary, “I forgot”. Is this progress? I think not.
As a parent I wonder if I am getting through and I feel like a resounding gong:
What about your homework?!
NO, You cannot ____ until your chores are done.
Treat others like you want to be treated, yes that includes your brother.
Your siblings are your best friends for life
And so on and so forth. My vocabulary has now become limited. As parents, how do we navigate this arena called adolescence? It feels like a boxing ring sometimes. I must admit I don’t win every round, sometimes it feels like I have been knocked out and I don’t know which way is up. Here are some helps I have discovered.
Pray a lot. Going to God who knows and loves our kids better than we do can make a huge difference. Often, it changes my heart and calms me more than changing my teen’s behavior. Choose a certain activity and use it as prayer time for your teen, whether it’s walking the dog or driving to work, etc.
Talk to other parents. You are not alone and talking with others to renew your sense or normalcy is SO helpful. Also, hearing how they handle similar situations is valuable. Include laughter therapy as you discuss your kids. You need both peers, who are parenting today, and older parents who can give you hope from the other side. Be careful to guard your child’s privacy and don’t tell all to everyone who will listen, choose wisely.
Listen to the experts and do as they suggest, even though it is REALLY hard. You can gain expert help from books, radio, podcasts, church, or community groups. In listening to the experts make sure you agree with their philosophy. My favorites are Jim Burns with Home Word and Dr. Dobson with Focus on the Family. They are both authors and radio hosts, with podcast downloads. Listening to them will introduce you to many other experts as well.
Finally, take a deep breath and look for perspective. For me, that means looking at what my long term parenting goals are. My mission with raising our kids is to raise independent, responsible members of society who love Jesus and love others, and make their decisions accordingly. With that as my starting point, I can then focus more on the character qualities becoming evident in adolescence.
- Their heart in helping Haiti relief with their own money
- The act of finding money on the street and turning it in at the school office
- The joyful way they interact with our special needs friend, Mason, whom we do respite care for.
These are far better lifetime character qualities than grades or conversational skills. Find something positive about your teen and refocus your perspective, it really does help.