I had the privilege to speak with a mom who had a teenager. The teenager is having to deal with a lot of issues. I kept hearing from the mom about what the teenager was doing to her, her husband (the dad) and the rest of the family. It seemed that it was the same thing each day. To say that she was frustrated, didn’t even come close. She was looking for a place to put this child to get help. As much as I could sympathize with her about her daughter’s issues, I felt the greater need to hear her as a mom. A dear friend of mine once said that birthing babies was easy, it is the birthing of adults that is difficult.
I have four children. I remember how different and at the time difficult it was helping them to become adults. I must confess, I am not sure I did it all correctly. In fact, I think that as a parent at that time, I stunk! (This does not define who I am, I just had some learning to do!) They are each unique. They each have their own personalities, ideas and gifts. Trying to place a “cookie cutter” formula just didn’t work. I read books, studied other great examples, prayed, bound and loosed everything! I was given some great advice: don’t make mountains out of mole hills, let them individuate, and don’t treat them like you used to. What worked for them as children is NOT going to work as a teenager!
Here are a couple of tips that may help you with your soon-to-be adult:
1: Don’t make mountains out of mole hills. In other words, there are some things that you can allow to go by the way side. Focus on the things that are important for them to keep as they move forward. Respect, understanding, love, honor and value to start. You can help build these values.
2. Keep communication open. No matter what I was doing, there was nothing more important then allowing them to come talk to me. I tried not to give my opinion or try to fix the problem for them. (Didn’t always do that, but tried.) They need to know that they are being heard.
3. Take them on dates. Yes, I said dates. Fathers take your daughters. Mothers, let your sons take you. This is a great way to have a one-on-one with them. It will also help instill respect for the opposite sex. It can teach them to honor others.
4. Learn not to judge them. Their opinions are just as important as yours. We don’t want to dictate to them how to think, we want them to think on their own.
5. Being an adult means facing the consequences of your decision. Face it, we all mess up. As adults, we don’t have someone come to our rescue. Let them face the consequences of their decisions. Don’t jump in to fix “it” or “them”. Character is built by facing life’s experiences. Don’t circumvent that opportunity for them. If they come to you, help them with good choices, but don’t enforce your opinion or what you would do on them. Let them make that decision.
By the end of our conversation, this mom was doing so much better. Not sure how she will incorporate my suggestions, but she knows there is someone who is available with a listening ear.