It didn’t take long for me to realize that my kid was still angry at me. Sitting at the breakfast table there was no small-talk to be had. Focused on the food in front of her, I sensed the “I’m not going to acknowledge you” communication.
It had all started innocently, but had become a landmine–a wedge between the two of us. I had crossed a line in the trust department. Yes, it was me. My just-hit-the-adult-stage daughter had given me permission to go through her email to find something that she knew was there but didn’t have time to look for. While I was perusing the subject lines something caught my attention. A not-so-good subject line.
And without even thinking I opened and read it.
And my heart sank.
This was not what I had taught her. There could be lots of hard lessons from this email. Note could. And fear overwhelmed me.
And then I had a decision to make. Would I have the conversation or choose to be silent?
And those of you who know me know that I’m willing to walk into even those difficult conversations. I’m willing to take a risk for what I think are all the right reasons.
So I approached her with what I thought was a “trying to get her to think” conversation, but she took it as accusatory. And then I found myself back-peddling as I realized that her private world felt invaded–by me. She trusted me enough to invite me into her private space and I blew it.
As I look back now at the situation, there could have been so many different ways I could have handled it without going head-on into the situation. If I could take it back I would have either consciously made the choice to not get into her private space (meaning choosing not to open the email) or I would have read it and prayed for discernment and an opportunity to have the conversation if God opened the door.
Yes, I made a mess of this one.
But how do we make the relationship repair?
- Pray for discernment. Pour out your heart to God and ask him make your heart sensitive to your child’s hurt.
- Attempt an apology. Don’t justify the action. Just apologize and state your wrong-doing. Be sincere.
- Create safety. Allow your teen to vent their frustration. Don’t be surprised if you get a list of all the sins they think you’ve committed against them in the past. Don’t react. Just listen.
- Respect their timetable. My daughter needed time to process her anger. I just wanted to talk and move beyond it. It was time to meet her in her space. I needed to wait until she was ready to talk.
- Avoid the subject and still maintain relationship. Be sure to interact with your teen as you typically do. If they are willing to do something fun, by all means use anything you can to rebuild the relationship.
- Re-engage in the conversation. Again, pray for discernment and attempt an apology once the emotion is past and some time has lapsed. It might take several hours, several days, and sometimes it could take weeks. Acknowledge and validate their feelings. And be sure to promise not to do it again.
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
Being a parent is difficult. And we all will make difficult decisions that sometimes lead to friction in the relationship. Giving your teen and yourself grace, letting them have time to process their emotions, and working to rebuilt trust is an ongoing process that will often need to be repeated. One of the best things God does is use our parenting mistakes and the resulting conflict to draw us closer to Him.
“Let go…and Let God”,