Last week was a roller coaster ride of emotion. It ended in disappointment and I saw confidence crumble.
My elderly mother was contemplating a move “back home” to be closer to me (her only daughter). We had talked for months about what it was that she wanted for the remaining years of her life and I had done all the research she had requested. My house, her own house, a condo, independent living, assisted living — nothing was left to be explored. If it was within a 30 mile radius of my home, I’d seen it or at least called about it.
(I hope you’ll stay with me here, because this post is about dealing with teens. 🙂 )
I flew out for a visit with brochures knowing that I’d come up with the best options. She had choices.
She agreed that she was ready to put the house up for sale and we went and got boxes to start packing.
And then it happened.
The same thing that happens to our tweens and teens.
Peer pressure kicked in.
The phone began to ring from other people–telling her she was making a mistake.
And I watched her move from a confident woman who had thought through a decision ready to act to a person filled with fear that she would disappoint other people.
The week was like being back at home with a teenager. At one moment I saw confidence, the next an unsettled fear, then a sense of anger and defiance (as if I was now the enemy pushing her to do something she didn’t want to do) .
Some of you are laughing by now at that last sentence. You know. You’ve been there with your teens.
So how can we deal with our own disappointment when we watch our kids move into the phase of defiance?
How many times have you had a discussion with your teen where you think they’ve decided to make a good choice only to have a sibling or friend shoot their decision down?
I remember when my oldest was around 12 we had a family chore chart on the inside of the pantry door. It had worked great for several years. One day the kid next door saw the chart and started ridiculing it. Suddenly a decision that my son had made to comply with our family’s ability to keep a smooth running house was sent spiraling because of one friend’s comment. My son moved from confident to afraid of being ridiculed to defiance in a matter of minutes.
Other kids and sometimes adults will challenge our kids’ decisions continually. Our job as parents is to help them build the confidence they need to withstand the pressure from the outside world as well as contain our own disappointment.
Let’s face it, none of us have a crystal ball where we can see the future. We can do our research trying to know what’s best for our kids, or we can offer advice based on our experience, but it is only when our kids experience the difficulties of life choices and mistakes will they learn.
So how do we deal with our own disappointment as a parent when our kids move into that phase of defiance when we thought that they were on the road to making a good choice?
- Remember that it is not about us as parents. Our teens are the ones who have to live with their choices. This is their journey–not ours.
- Release your disappointment to God. Tell God your disappointment not your kids. It is so easy to want to say things like “if you had only listened to me” or “I told you so”. Resist the temptation. Psalms 42:11 says Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
- Build confidence in your kids by letting them know that your love and protection is not based on their choices or their defiance. Saying something like “I know that you have (or had) to make the decision that you feel (felt) is (was) right for you. You know how I feel about the decision, but I know that it is important that you be true to yourself and not be swayed by those around you. Know that I’m praying about the situation and hope you have been too. Know that I love you and always want what is best for you. I’m here if you need me.”
Dealing with our own emotions can be difficult when we are disappointed with our kids’ choices, but treating our teens with respect as separate human beings who are capable of making their own decisions will build a confidence in them that will span a lifetime of peer pressure.
Dare you to take your disappointments to God and let Him be your comfort during the trials of parenting.
“Let go…and let God”,
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