Although I’ve raised two daughters to adulthood and know parenting teens can be a job, it never ceases to amaze me that parenting teens is also downright hard.
Now I’m the mother of three teenage sons. I can vividly recall being a teen myself — the rollercoaster of emotions, the highs and lows, the dramatic tears, the overwhelming insecurity, the fears, the anger, the frustration, and the stress. I also remember the loud laughter, the joy, the experience of new love, and the thrill of growing independence.
With my teenage years in my rearview, I try to put my best foot forward in dealing with my own dear sons in my current everyday life.
My sons each have their own personalities. The oldest is pensive, thoughtful, serious, structured, sensitive, and intense. The middle son is giving, motivated, distractible, committed, studious, and never meets a stranger. The youngest? He is active, bouncy, loud, lovable, hard-working, committed, and fun!
A guide on the journey
Like most teenagers, my three sons are trying to decide who they are and who they want to be. They’re formulating their identity, finding their circle of friends, arriving at their own opinions, setting goals, and so much more.
While this can be confusing and sometimes stressful, as a mom, my desire is to love my kids well, setting parameters that will help them navigate all they’re tasked with.
As parents, we’re left to figure out, on a minute-by-minute basis, where our children are on their journey. We do this as we also assess what our roles are and how those roles should shift as our children grow.
We balance encouragement with the responsibility of training them in the ways of the Lord, shaping their character, and guiding their growing independence.
Parenting is a lot of work, it’s true. But why wouldn’t we want to work hard? We love our kids, and by the time they are teenagers, we’ve invested so much in them already!
When parents become the enemy
It seems no matter how well we try to do our job, however, at any time, we can become the ENEMY.
For no apparent reason, our teenagers may put walls up, and we’re left to decide exactly how we will respond to the barriers they erect.
I’ve personally wondered why my teenager is changing! While teen years require a change in the normal order of things, the truth is I often wonder if there is something wrong:
Has my precious teen son or daughter been injured?
Are they raising walls to protect their heart?
Are their new responses indicative of their growing need for independence and my lack of increasing healthy boundaries?
What if the walls are being raised as an act of defiance?
What does it mean if my child is unwilling to let me break and connect with their heart?
In my experience thus far, the teenage years have been full of fun and excitement. Still, the entire truth includes the difficulty of the walls teens raise and the disappointing interruptions of good fellowship.
A solution for every challenge
Sometimes being a teenager is just plain hard, so I’ve had to let my teen cry it out as they navigate hurt. I have to wait on their willingness to open up and share with me. I’m grateful for the moments when my kids talk to me so that I can encourage and guide them as needed.
There is, however, one solid solution to the challenges teenage years may bring. LAUGHTER.
No matter how moody a teen may get, they still want to have a good time. So make it your intention to have fun!
Find funny videos on social media, play a game, or make it your ambition to tell a good joke or at least a corny one. Even if they laugh at you, they’re still laughing.
Laughter is a good tool. It’s often just the thing that communicates my delight in my children. My joy can break the ice and help reconnect me to them. If they don’t laugh, I still do and just keep on loving them.
But what if the wall remains?
What if the teenager is in a position of defiance or rebellion?
My hope is that they see the joy in me and learn the lesson they will need later in life — not to let the emotions of others determine their own. I also don’t allow their attitude or actions to change MY requirements or MY standards, MY love, or MY attitude.
Is parenting teenagers really that simple? Laugh while letting them know where the boundary lines are in a simple and concise way?
Of course not! There are plenty of times I have to resist the STRONG urge to ask my boys the age-old question…” HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND”? I don’t know why I’ve even bothered asking that question in the past. Do I really expect a “yes,” even when we all know that’s the correct answer?
I’ve learned to give up my desire to make sense of the trek through the teenage years. My personal experience has taught me that lecturing, questioning, badgering, and hen-pecking doesn’t bring down walls. However, love can.
Isn’t this what God the Father does with us? He is such the perfect parent. He just keeps loving on us until we melt.
His requirements don’t change.
His standards don’t change.
His love for us doesn’t change.
The truth of the matter is, day in and day out, God loves me well. He lets me go through my seasons of teenage-like insanity, knowing that when I’m ready to talk, I’ll come to Him.
Sometimes He has to let me cry it out because I’m navigating hurt. Other times, He has to wait on my willingness to open the gate and answer his gentle knock as He seeks to be Lord over my life. I’m thankful for the intentional moments that He trains, encourages, and guides me so I don’t get too far off track. 🙂
As I reflect on my journey with the Lord, I can’t believe how much time has been wasted as I’ve ridden emotional waves, trying to figure out who I want to be in Christ.
As a parent, my Father must despise my walls because it’s also an unnecessary interruption of good fellowship. There’s no telling how much precious communion with God and early wisdom for living I’ve missed out on due to my moving through seasons of the Christian life with my bottom lip stuck out, my mind busily working to erect and keep up a wall where I just didn’t want God to have access.
Wow…parenting me is a lot of work, it’s true. But why wouldn’t my Heavenly Father want to parent me perfectly?
He’s invested so much in me already by giving His only Son, so that fellowship with Him would be possible!
I’m so glad to know God understands me when I don’t understand myself and knows just how to love me through my bouts of teenage madness.
I’m also glad that He encourages me to embrace joy during challenging seasons and not to miss the opportunities to lighten up even as I grow in my faith – learning what it means to love Him by living an obedient and surrendered life.
As I parent my kids, I choose joy.
Why? Because as God “parents” me, this is the gift He extends to me too as I grow in Him.
He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouting. – Job 8:21
Chrystal Evans Hurst is an encourager who teaches people to love God, to love others, and to love themselves. Chrystal is a wife, mother of five and grandmother of 3. She is also a speaker and the best-selling author of She\'s Still There and Kingdom Woman, Show Up For Your Life and the newly released The 28-Day Prayer Journey. You can find Chrystal sharing regular encouragement via podcasts and blogs at ChrystalEvansHurst.com.
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