Most of us like a good novel where we want the main character to conquer the impossible or find that their dream comes true. We all have dreams and fantasies we would like to become a reality. And our teens are no different.
But what about the times when our kids believe their fantasy will come true with little effort on their part?
Yesterday as I was talking to a Mom about one of her kids, I was reminded of a story I heard about a teen who was telling everyone that he wanted to become a professional football player. As a typical conversation would ensue, an adult would ask what position he played on the high school team and how the season was going. The truth was that this high school freshman had never played football in his life. He hadn’t even tried out for this year’s team, yet he was convinced he would one day be a pro player.
When most of us read a story like that we find it hard to comprehend. Could he really believe his own fantasy?
Yet I continually talk to Moms who have teens who just know they will get what they want and everything will work out in the end. And it begs the question. Why does this generation think that their fantasies will come true if they believe hard enough?
Maybe we’ve given them too much or solved all their problems in the past.
Perhaps they don’t know that it takes hard work to win the prize because we’ve handed out too many participation trophies.
Or maybe they’ve seen too many Disney movies where everyone’s dreams come true and they live happily ever after.
Whatever the reason, at some point these kids will need to learn to think on a much deeper level if they are going to be successful in life. And that’s where we as parents come in.
I know some parents tend to brush their kid’s fantasies off with a “You can’t be serious. That will never happen given _______ (your grades, your coordination skills, your track record, and the list goes on.) Grow up.”
Or we say something like, “You can do anything if you try hard enough”–even though we know full well that the odds are definitely stacked against them.
Yet I want to suggest something different.
What if we take the time to have conversation around their fantasies and enter their world? What if we help them truly think about what they are saying?
Let me give you an example.
Your daughter is already talking about the car that she is going to buy with her babysitting money once she turns 16. You know that her less that $500 will barely pay for the tires, not to mention the car she wants probably won’t be within her reach for quite a few years.
The next time she brings the car up, the conversation could go something like this as you try to enter her world.
“You’ll be 16 in a few months. Tell me a little more about your thoughts on this car.”
Then let her talk with you commenting positively as you engage in her world.
“So tell me a little bit about your plan.” This requires her to think about the steps involved. If she doesn’t have any, perhaps you can suggest something such as looking online or visiting a car dealership–together.
As we both know, once the research begins, reality will begin to emerge. She’ll most likely understand that the car she wants and the money she has doesn’t line up. As her fantasy starts to implode, sit with her as she deals with the disappointment and has to let go of her dream. Validate her feelings. And share a time when your dream was bigger than your reality.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
When we take the time to enter our kid’s fantasies, we are helping our kids realize that their desires might need to be viewed in light of actuality. When we walk the path to reality with them, our connection in the relationship becomes stronger. Our kids need someone to be there for them as their thinking becomes deeper and they learn to deal with the disappointment of the real world.
By doing so, you’ll help your teens learn to process their desires in the future with a new level of maturity and confidence.
“Let go…and Let God”,