“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40: 30-31
Every phase of raising children is a joy and a challenge at the same time: a time for us to grow as parents and people. Many of the lessons we are teaching our children have lessons for us as adults. Each phase allows our children to take one more step away from us and help them discover who they truly are separate from the family fold.
The teenage phase can be fraught with problems and challenges for both parents and teenagers. I often find myself trying to remember what I was like as a teenager, but can I really relate to where my own teenagers are at in this day and age?
My husband and I have felt hugely challenged in recent years, not just by our teenagers, but not helped by moving countries a few times and the emotional turmoil of teenage angst.
Reasons for the problems that have arisen between parents and teenagers vary greatly for each family since each situation is different. However, there are a few common areas I have found, when talking to friends in similar situations, where teenagers and parents find conflict.
Our teenagers want to control their own lives and not have parents telling them what to do. But keeping the balance between letting our children make their own choices and keeping them safe is like walking a very long tight rope.
We have found that keeping the lines of communication open, trying to understand their choices and setting limits still allow our teenagers to express themselves in safer ways and still feel in control.
Our teenagers sure know how to argue… In striving for their new-found independence, and wanting to control their lives, they are also trying to find their voice and stand up for what they believe in.
However, there are days when the simplest of requests turns into a huge argument. Whether they are told they can’t go out or watch TV because they haven’t finished their homework or haven’t done their chores, it is met with the rolling of the eyes and a ready argument. Not only do they feel the need to discuss the perceived injustice, but often they seem to feel that we don’t trust them.
I have found that it is easier not to engage in the argument if possible. But in the heat of the moment, even the calmest parent can be drawn into the argument. I try to find compromise where I can and if it ends with a stomping off to complete what was requested in the first place, then I allow that to be that. Hopefully met with a calmer discussion later on.
Lack of Communication:
Often, it feels like parents and teenagers are living on two different planets or speaking two different languages. Phrases like “you just don’t understand,” or “it’s like you just don’t ever listen to me,” are heard over and over in regular discussions.
I try as much as possible to head off any of these kinds of phrases by making general conversation more often and really listening to what they have to say rather than jumping in to give advice. I have tried to validate their feelings, admit when I have messed up as a parent, and been there for them when they have messed up too. I try hard not to pass judgement but where possible let life be the lesson. They are going to slip up, but I hope that by keeping an open, friendly communication with my teenagers that I will know what is going on and be able to support them wherever possible.
I didn’t feel like I had that kind of relationship with my parents growing up. I was ‘seen and not heard’ in the old way of bringing up children. My opinion was not needed or wanted, and my father definitely always knew more than me or was always right. I don’t want this for my children, but I struggle also to find the balance of being tough but fair.
One thing that came out of a recent discussion with one of my teenagers was that they prayed every day. Prayed that the Lord would guide them, support them, love them and hear them. This revelation surprised me but also helped me to see that perhaps we weren’t such bad parents after all. We had shown them the way from their earliest years, trusting in the Lord, praying to the Lord, and seeking his truths.
Therefore, I am grateful that during these most tumultuous of times that they have found peace and comfort in the Word of the Lord and in daily prayer. Perhaps I’m not such a bad parent after all… even if they sometimes tell me I’m the worst parent on the planet!
“Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right.” Proverbs 20:11