My heart is heavy today.. I have a friend whose teens are really struggling right now. They are making some really poor choices and paying heavy for them. It’s so hard to raise teens.
I love teens over the age of 16. I love 2’s. I don’t like 14 and 15.
14 and 15 is so hard. They seem to lose their brains. They fight, they are crabby, moody, argumentative. Some don’t want to shower regularly. They need to. Some don’t want to wash their faces regularly. They need to. They want to drive. They want to go out alone on dates. They want to do whatever they want to right now. They don’t need to do any of that.
They are trying so hard to figure out who they are. But they have hormones raging that they have never had before. That makes them crazy and really makes it hard for them to figure out who they are.
Its a struggle.
Struggling is not a bad thing. Its a really good thing. Just ask the butterfly.
Did you ever watch a butterfly just getting out of a chrysalis? We did last summer. We didn’t do it right. We tried to rescue it. Yes I knew better. Yes I had heard that you should not do it. Yes, the 9-year old and I cannot keep our hands off nature. Especially when it appears to need our rescuing.
It really didn’t. We killed it with our “love”.
It was all wrinkled on the bottom of one of our deck chairs. It must have just come out of the chrysalis though we didn’t see one anywhere. We watched it for quite awhile as we had never seen that and we love that kind of stuff. Then we did what we shouldn’t have. We picked it up and touched it. We thought it needed rescuing. So we gave it a home with some sugar water on a sponge, some branches.
That didn’t last long.
We stole its opportunity for growth.
As hard as it is to watch a butterfly or a person, struggle, we can’t just jump in to rescue either one. Its an opportunity for growth.
Now let me clarify some things here. I am not saying turn em loose and let ’em do whatever they want. I am not saying go ahead and let them run you ragged. I am not saying anything that would cause more harm.
This is what I am saying. Struggles produce character. Guide them through so that character is formed. Not a police record. Not a school record. Not more trouble. Not more rescuing. More guidance.
Here is what I mean.
I have a daughter who loves horses. She is horse crazy. Horses and riding lessons are expensive. I don’t have money for that. She worked for her horse lessons and equipment. She payed for her stuff as much as she could. We payed some, because we saw how hard she worked at it. But she payed the bulk. We would go to horse shows and see spoiled Jane who has a thousands of dollars horse, hundreds of dollars outfits, throw fits and abuse her parent because she did win with the horse that she hadn’t trained. Horse daughter worked hard, got her outfits from friends and sales, trained her own horse and sometimes she placed and sometimes she didn’t.
She has not given up. There were a few times when she wanted to. We had many discussions about how she had to work hard for what she had and not everyone else around her did. It was not easy. She struggled. We struggled. She made bad choices. We made bad choices.
She now can ride anything you put her on. Horse daughter keeps a budget, knows how to handle her money, and now has 4 horses, 2 dogs and 2 cats she supports on her own. She trains her own horses, trains her own dogs knows she can get through whatever life sends her way. She is a confident, strong young woman who doesn’t let anyone take advantage of her. She is not afraid to say no. To anyone.
Now. She was not always this way. We struggled with many things and many issues. She wanted her way on lots of things.. Sometimes I let her go her way and watched carefully for what I knew was coming. When it did, we talked through it and she faced the consequences of her actions. Some natural, this is what will happen when you do this, some Mom and Dad made. We made some tough choices and tough consequences and stood firm. That was really hard when one of the other parents did not set consequences and criticized for us doing so. To my daughter, not even to me. That was tough.
But we didn’t give in. Well most of the time. Yea we are human and made many mistakes. We gave in sometimes.
Now back to teens…
14 and 15’s are hard. They have to struggle through some things to figure out who they are apart from Mom and Dad. They make bad choices. We guide them back in through consequences. Loss of privileges works well for reminders. Loss of electronic devices are huge consequences to a teen. No its not the end of the world. I survived my entire teen career without seeing or talking to my friends for an entire weekend!!! They will survive also.
Don’t try to step in and make things easier for them. Let them struggle through some things. Talk with them about some ways that could help them get through it. Do not step in and fix it for them.
Pray. Pray for them to get through. Pray for them to get through whatever they need to. Pray for wisdom to know when they are in trouble and how to help them see the problem. Then pray for the consequences fitting the crime.
Keep in your mind always the goal of parenting– To get them out!! To move them on!! To work yourself out of a job!
To be able to do that they MUST be able to problem solve. They must be confident enough in themselves to be able to do that and also come talk with you when they aren’t sure how to do something. I also add: they HAVE to be able to handle money!!!! They have to know how to do the laundry and cook and wash the dishes. Oh and PLEASE clean that toilet!!!
If we continue to rescue them we steal their opportunity for growth. Yes absolutely its hard to watch them screw up. Especially when it is time and time again. But stand firm. I heard it said that they may come against you 1000 times but you just have to stand firm that 1 more time and you win.
Parenting teens is hard no doubt. I know.. I am on my 4th and 5th. I am not done and out of the woods yet. I don’t have it all down pat.
But I do know this: Life’s tough. Its a struggle. Learn to use those struggles as opportunities for growth. You will go far!
Love and blessings-
A good resource for parenting teens that I have found is “Boundaries for Teens” by Cloud and Townsend. You can find it in the library or on Amazon.