I’ve heard it said more times than I can count about how trying and difficult raising a teenager can be. Now with three (almost four) teenagers in my home, I can tell you that it is, indeed, difficult. But then again, raising kids as a profession was never an easy thing to do. We’re not moms because it’s easy. We’re moms because it’s challenging and we are the best ones for the job. But no matter how difficult the task, I would never do anything else. I love being a mom! And although each chapter of the journey has its own joys, raising teenagers has been one of the most fulfilling and glorious of any of them.
I believe the problems most parents have with raising teenagers is not the erratic or rebellious behavior of the children, but the breakdown in the relationship between parent and child. In our modern culture, a break between parent and teen is not only commonplace, but it has become expected. There’s no doubt about it, the teen years can be a struggle. But the most important thing to keep in mind is that you should not be on the opposite side of this struggle. You, as a parent, need to be alongside your teen, guiding him or her through the struggles that pop up along the journey.
But before you grab your teen’s hand and say, “let’s go hang out at the mall.” There are three things you must know about your child:
#1 They long for a relationship with you.
Sure, you may get the cold shoulder and the vacant stares every once in a while. But, the truth is that your teenager has a deep longing for a relationship with you. Within their spirit, it can get pretty dark at times and certainly very confusing. They need you to help them through this and shed some light in their lives. Don’t get angry if they act annoyed at you. Keep pursuing and never give up. They probably feel torn. The world keeps giving them messages to push you away; but inside they still have an intrinsic longing to draw close to you. The teen years are not when you let go. These are the years that you take the necessary time and attention to pull even closer.
#2 They are more capable than you think.
Our society hugely discredits teenagers. In other cultures, teenagers are helping support their families, working on their farm, handling business transactions. Even back in our own history, people just passed from childhood to adulthood. There was no period of “checking out” as a teenager. Teens are smart. They are capable. They are strong. But they will only rise to the level of expectation that you set for them. If you still treat them as children, then they will never be able to be respected as adults. Give them room to spread their wings and try them out. Want to hear more about the subject? Check out www.dohardthings.com. If you have teens, don’t miss out on the joy of sharing your life with a blossoming adult. it’s awesome!
#3 They want boundaries.
While you allow them to spread their wings, you also need to remember that they still need boundaries. Now, read this very carefully–they don’t need boundaries on their abilities. They need boundaries on their lifestyle. Personally, I hope that as your children become teens, you can begin to remove the boundaries as they have proven wisdom in their lifestyle. But, unfortunately, I see many families who struggle in this area. If your teen has not proven good judgement in their decisions, they need boundaries until they are able to do so. Good ahead–push them out to perform, but reel them back in from the party. In stark contrast to our present worldview, teenagers do not need to go through a phase of sowing wild oats. They should already be reaping a fruitful harvest. This may also come as a shock to you because deep inside they long for boundaries. Boundaries show them that you care and you’re willing to do what it takes to help them along in life. You are the parent and you’ve got to BE the parent. It’s tough sometimes, you like I said, we never chose motherhood because it was easy.
…but it is worth it!