Constant bargaining with what I say…taking someone else’s things because they want them and not considering that the other person may be using them…leaving their belongings all over the house for someone else to clean up…laziness…speaking disrespectfully to others…pouting till they get attention…being inconsiderate of other people’s plans…expecting others to stop whatever THEY are doing so that we can do something for THEM…expecting someone else to buy them whatever they want just because they want it…begrudgingly doing what they are told to do if they do it at all…
Can you guess what group of people I am talking about above? If you have teenagers then you know I am talking about them. Who are these people? What happened to my sweet polite children? Who replaced those children with these selfish people? I look back and see all the things I did wrong to produce selfish and inconsiderate children. And I realize that it’s because I’m human and that it’s just a regular part of parenting. As they spread their wings and learn to fly I am also doing the same. I’m learning as I go. I wasn’t expecting this phase. Why didn’t someone tell me this was coming?
We have always been very honest with our family dynamics. Ron and I have never been ashamed to seek help in our relationship when we would hit a bad patch. We’ve been to marriage seminar weekends. We’ve been to counseling. We’ve talked to older and wiser couples who have been married longer than we have about issues we have come across. How did we overlook seeking help in parenting this stage of life? Who do you go to to ask how to FIX your teenagers?
I’m learning that it’s ME that needs to be fixed. I needed to be fixed a long time ago but didn’t see it. I wish someone had said to me “Pam, I’m seeing some things in your kids that I think might cause a problem in the future.” But I’m not sure that anyone would have said that. We are all too tight lipped about not offending another person’s parenting skills – including me. Although I did have a talk one time with a close friend about their children and some issues that I saw. I gave them some suggestions. I noticed them trying those things for a while and they seemed to work. Now I look back and wonder what on earth made me think I knew anything about parenting.
I know that parenting teenagers is difficult for everyone. It’s just a hard stage. As far as I’m concerned it’s the most difficult stage in the parenting process. And you know, there really isn’t any benefit in looking back and wondering about where you went wrong. All I can do now is to try to make the corrections that I can. The problem comes in instituting those changes. Change is hard for anyone (although I don’t really mind it much) – but especially for a teenager. They will tell you to your face that “you’ve never made me do this before and you’ll give up on it in a week so I’m not gonna do it now”. That makes it even harder because in the back of your mind you pretty much know they are right.
One thing that we have tried very hard to abide by consistently – but we do fail because, again, we are human – is the instructions given for parenting in Deuteronomy 6:5-9 – Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
It is the Biblical way of instilling God’s Word and His ways into our children. We have learned that it’s never to late to start that if you have been lax in following those Biblical instructions before. It’s still hard. But with the Word of God and His power behind us we press on and it truly helps.
So when someone warns you about the teenage years double check what you are doing NOW. That is what is going to determine how easy or difficult those teenage years will be. They are still their own individual people who will be venturing out to discover their independence. That’s how it’s supposed to be. But if you maintain a good relationship and follow the Master Parent’s instructions above I would imagine that you will be a little more prepared than I was. Things are just running along smoothly and you think things are perfect when all of a sudden a stranger walks out of your child’s bedroom one morning. It’s a totally different child than the one who walked into that room the night before. But what YOU did that day before will determine what YOU do with that stranger who walks out the next morning.
I’m learning not to focus on the mistakes that I’ve made in the past. I can’t change those. I can, however, learn from them. I can refocus and do a lot of praying for guidance so that the Lord will help me to impress spiritual matters directly to their hearts, like a blood transfusion. It starts with our heart though. Is my heart in the right place with God? I can’t pass on those spiritual matters in my heart to their hearts if my heart is not open to the commandments of God. I pray that the Lord will continue teaching me and changing me so that I can be an example to my teenagers constantly. I want their first reaction to something to be a spiritual reaction. But how can that happen if that is not the case for me?
You get me?