Teens have a unique way to bring out the worst in a parent. OR is it they reveal what was already there? (My insecurities, fear, and worry I have failed them!)
Teens are the life blood of a family bringing energy, joy, and a realm of emotion and life into a home.
At the same time, they can drain the life right out of a parent in less time than it takes to snap your fingers! But a parent can deflate a teen in less time than THAT!
I don't know any parent that would say they want to help their teen feel deflated, useless, unwise, dumb, and worthless. But I know we do that more often than we want to admit! I can say we have probably conveyed that one way or another, with a roll of the eyes, a quick word that turned into the ever lasting battle, or a fast sigh of disgust we are battling this same issue AGAIN!
Our heart doesn't want to go there, our will doesn't want to take us there, but our emotions ALWAYS seem to drop us there!
Do NOT REACT to your teens! They are learning how to communicate in this world and we need to guide them, not throw them under the bus. Our younger kids need us to teach them manners or how to get milk without spilling it. Our teens can get milk and know manners but have not mastered the ability in working through conflict as they fight for independence!
This is so much easier to say than to carry out! They capture us at our worst, they have a knack for touching that nerve that is exposed, and they want answers NOW, not later! They think faster, respond quicker, and frankly are the great debaters at this age.
We enter into their court instead of asking them to walk into our court. We need to take a deeper breath than you did when disciplining your toddlers. All you had to do with them was compose yourself and tell them what needed to happen next. With teens, you gotta compose yourself and organize your thoughts! Not only that but you gotta prepare for the conversation (not argument) but conversation of what will transpire next.
WE tend to enter this realm just like them. Lets begin the debate and fly by the seat of our pants! I have yet to see where this ends well!
Oh parents, surely we are wiser than this! (I find I am NOT apart from Christ!) Everything else in life we tell kids they need to take time to prepare, plan ahead, and seek wisdom. And yet when it comes to a conversation with our teens we never take our own advice!
Next time an issue arises with your teen:
- Take a moment to regroup.
- Approach the teen with love and understanding.
- Calmly, without reacting to any of their responses talk with them in love.
- Let them know your love for them whether this issue is solved or not.
- Affirm them that you know they are trying to make wise choices but those choices will need feed back from YOU the parent. (Its God's design)
- Know that you will probably not see the teen standing before you, understand your heart at THAT moment...allow them to walk away when done and ponder!!! I think this is huge. We MUST give them time to think through what just happened. Don't feel you have to bring conclusion at that MOMENT.
With younger kids you have to bring them to the conclusion because they don't have the skill to think through what could happen. But teens.....they have the skill they just have to exercise that muscle and the power of Christ! We need to give them that space to access the Lord.
- Our goal is ultimately a changed heart, not just a right response.
They will hear from us far more when we approach with love and understanding (doesn't mean we have to agree) vs annoyed and reacting (doesn't mean you can't discipline)!
When in doubt, parent how God parents us!
He never raises his voice, he gently reminds me, and He never seems to be disgusted with my continual failings.
I am sure I have disappointed Him in my actions but He has never been disappointed in WHO I am. I think He looks at me with compassion in saying, "my child if you will just follow my instructions it will be well with your soul!"
Parents, do we have our compassionate heart ON when dealing with our teens? It isn't about our fear and failings, it is about our love to guide them well. Yes, we have birthed these kids, changed their diapers, and cleaned their messes, BUT they are Gods children! It is time to train my kids to look to their Heavenly Father, not just their earthly one! To do that, I have to remove my emotion and reactions out of the equation.
Let's encourage one another to lead these amazing young adults well!