What if you were, daily, overwhelmed with the most incredible thoughts and realizations about the world in which you live but no one will listen?
What if you lived in a world where those around you scoffed at your ideas, told you to be quiet, and ridiculed your fashion choices?
What if you were told to obey rules you didn’t understand and methodologies which seem to be in conflict with newly discovered personal convictions?
What if you were 15 again?
One of the greatest advantages I believe I hold as a parent is the minimal understanding I possess of what is called the “dialectic” phase of life and learning. This time follows the “gathering of information/grammar” stage and is largely developed through the most maddening and delightfully awkward juxtaposition of questioning and naïve inquisitiveness we will ever experience.
Just like you wouldn’t put a star athlete on the bench and make him listen to training lectures over and over without any time spent on the field, it doesn’t make any sense to put your 15 year old on the couch and lecture him until your voice dries up and he resents every syllable dripping from your lips. Right?
Want to reach your kid?
Well, maybe you need to shut up, frankly, and stop being such a pompous ass. Maybe you need to remember being 15. Maybe you need to let him wrestle. And fail. And be stronger for both the wrestling and the failure.
Three elements, which I have been working hard to intentionally implement in our home, to some fairly amazing results are the following:
1. We spend time together, just hanging out. I watch their Youtube videos, we go for walks, we’ve discovered some favorite coffee shops, I buy Frosties for their friends, interjecting myself without apology (however lamely) into their lives. I make plans to do interesting things and ask them to include some friends, if we have vehicle room.
2. When we struggle through issues, I require them to answer questions. “I don’t know” isn’t an answer, it’s a cop-out. Everyone has an opinion, a belief, a dicta which persuades them that their behavior is justifiable. Sometimes they have to find it. We take time to search for it.
3. When they struggle I get closer. And by closer I don’t mean grounded to their room. I mean we do more stuff together.
I do these things because, under all the sharpening and growing pains, I am fighting for the men I have always believed exist underneath their boyish facades. I will stand up and say “You shall not pass.” When faces are flushed and voices raise, when I’d rather hide in my room than complete these painful conversations, I refuse to back down.
It’s not about winning. It’s about being willing to be ugly together and beautifully present.
There aren’t many young men I’ve ever met who can hold a candle to my boys. As their mom, I can say that without equivocation. It’s not false pride, we’ve worked so very, very hard and, yet, we haven’t possibly arrived.
From the moment they handed me that 10# 6oz chunk of baby on December 10, all those years ago, to today as he drove me to the bookstore and didn’t collide with oncoming cars, I have been in awe of the responsibility God placed on me to raise, guide, protect, love, nurture, and eventually release these human beings.
Every day I feel less than adequately prepared. Every day I hug and kiss those boys, telling them I like them, I love them, I adore them, I am proud of them.
Every day they amaze me. Every day I find something else that stretches me beyond selfish boundaries and into where the magic happens.
When you are struggling with your teens?
Remember who they are. Remember who you were. Tell them how you struggle. Tell them how YOU feel. Remind them of destiny and purpose, prayers prayed over them, moments of clarity and passion experienced as a family.
No one likes being penalized for sharing their hearts, for exploring new thoughts, for growing up.