Do you remember what it’s like to be a kid? How about a teenager? I recently re-watched a movie that I liked when I was a teenager. All I can think about that now is, What was I thinking?! This movie’s terrible! I’d go ballistic if my child watched this! What were my parents thinking?! Letting me watch this stuff?!
Then I stop and think, Have I forgotten? Have I forgotten how awkward it is to be a kid sometimes? Especially a teenager. My parents didn’t know anything – and let’s get this straight – I actually thought my parents were pretty ok. Most of my friends thought even less of their folks than I did of mine.
So, what do we do? What do we do if we see the dreaded teenager in our home?
- Warn them before they hit these awkward years. I’m still wondering if this will work, but someone older than me said this was a good idea and it seems to be working. Check back with me in a few years and I’ll let you know how it went.
- Don’t let the popular Hollywood images stand without analysis or at least some type of reply. I loved the John Hughes Brat Pack movies in the 80’s (when I was a teenager). The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Some Kind of Wonderful. They all had some common themes and elements. One of which was that adults were idiots. Parents were only slightly less idiotic than Guidance Counselors. By the way, few of those movies are worth exposing your children to. You remember them as great movies, but watch them again as parents. You’ll see them from a whole different perspective. I do not want my teenagers taking relationship advice from Harry and Sally, Long Duck Dong, Duckie, any of the Molly Ringwald characters, or even the great sage Ferris Bueller and his best friend, Cameron Frye.
- Don’t freak out. My parents got that part right. But don’t check out, either. If you’ve prepared your children for the teenage years by investing in them before then, it ‘should’ make the teenage years a little smoother, but if you’ve made some mistakes or even if you’ve just pulled your 13-year-old out of public school as a last-ditch effort to save their soul, then take heart. It may take some more effort, but children want your love. That’s the secret they won’t say. They may not even consciously know it, but they want and need your love, your discipline, your boundaries. They’ll respond to you.
- Be intentional. This parenting thing is hard, and it only gets harder if we just wing it all the time. I’m not saying it has to be planned perfectly, but a mission, a strategy, an idea of what you’re aiming at will help a lot. Specifically, spend 1-1 time with your kids. Listen to them. Spend lots of time with them. But, give them some space.
If it sounds like I don’t know what I’m doing, that’s because I don’t. I’m trying to learn from those who have gone before me, but I don’t know if what I’m doing will work for me, let alone you. I do know that if I just give in to my sinful nature, I’d give up altogether. And maybe that’s the most important point. Just don’t give up. That’s what I see in the Bible. God never gives up on us. And that’s what I’ve seen in every good parent. They don’t give up on their kids. They keep loving them and keep working at figuring this stuff out.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9
That’s one of my favorite verses, especially when I need encouragement in homeschooling and raising my children. Do not grow weary in doing good. Do not give up. We will reap a reward.