Sitting in the counselor’s office with her husband, Renee wondered how they had gotten to the place where they were. Their 13 year old son was filled with anger and resentment and it seemed hopeless that things would change. “Maybe the counselor can give us answers,” she had whispered hopefully to Jason as they were on the way to the appointment.
Listening to the psychologist’s interpretation of their son, his test scores, and his view of his life, made Renee’s heart pound. There was nothing new that the counselor was telling them. They were things Renee already knew about her son Brett. She just needed to know how to fix it!
As the session continued, the counselor was more interested in how she and Jason parented. What was life like at home? What were the relationships between Brett and his siblings? How was school? What was he like when he was younger? When was the change? What were the family rules?
Renee shared everything in an open fashion. She wanted her real son back. The one she remembered as a little boy.
She certainly had nothing to hide.
All she wanted was answers. How could she “fix” the situation?
As they left the office, it was obvious; this was going to take some time to sort through. But something from the conversation kept resonating in Renee’s mind.
“Renee, what could you and Jason do differently as you parent Brett? Think about that over the next few weeks and we’ll talk again at your next appointment.”
As parents, none of us is perfect. We sometimes get so caught up in responding to life circumstances that we forget to be proactive in assessing our own shortcomings. Unfortunately, it isn’t until life is off-kilter and our kids start responding in ways that we don’t understand, that we finally starting doing our own personal assessment.
…first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Understanding what is causing your teen to respond with inappropriate behaviors that cause breakdown in relationships is something that we all need to do from time to time. I’ll admit, sometimes I’m much better at blaming my kid and dishing out consequences rather than looking at what I might have done to cause his reaction…or even more so, what I haven’t done to build our relationship.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating that all teenage inappropriate responses are due to our inability to get the parenting thing right. What I am saying is that sometimes our kids model our responses to them and we aren’t looking in the mirror to see reality.
So today, I’m asking you to take a personal inventory of your parenting. Don’t look at this as an opportunity for condemnation, but look at it as an opportunity for growth. Parenting can be one of the most difficult places for our love to shine. We feel responsible to get it right. But we also live in such close proximity to these kids that God has blessed us with that we don’t pause long enough before we react in most situations.
So what about you?
Dare you to answer these questions or better yet, take your teen out to lunch and ask them these questions about you.
- Do I apologize and seek forgiveness from my teen when I am wrong?
- Am I considered a good listener?
- Does my teen perceive me as a positive person more than a complainer?
- Am I connected to my teen’s other parent in a healthy relationship?
- Do my teens trust me?
I don’t know about you, but some of these make me pause for contemplation. My prayer is that you will boldly take inventory asking God to help you make changes to model relationship well. If you have dialogue with your teen, you’ll have opportunity to not only look in the mirror and get some honest feedback, but you’ll have opportunity to make amends and move forward in your relationship.
Above all else…
“Let go…and let God,”
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