I have never bought into the idea that children all rebel in their teenage years. Or that raising teenagers is an unbearable practice. I am saddened when I hear the dread that people have about parenting teenagers. The teenage years should not be dreaded, rather embraced!
As my children have encountered physiological changes such as the deepening of voices, growing bodies, mild breakouts, and ch-ch-ch-changes – they are experiencing changes in other areas of their lives as well. I see this difficult balance that they attempt to walk out between childhood and adulthood. They are eager to grow up fast, and to be their own person and yet daily their need for us as their parents is so evident. There is much going on in those teenage bodies – hormonal changes, emotional changes, social changes, and many things they cannot begin to express. As these changes are taking place and my children don’t understand why they feel angry all of a sudden or frustrated more than they usually do, I am so grateful that they are in my home, with me. I find that we have many teachable moments, when I have the opportunity to speak to them about their lives, their minds, and bodies. It is important that I remind both them and myself, that this is a short season of life. Adolescents need to be reminded that the door is open for them to come to us as parents, so they may ask questions, seek advice, or just come as a friend to talk.
I am so thankful that my children are with me for their schooling. I am thankful that God gives me the grace needed to respond to them in love. And when I make mistakes, or I am harsh, He always provides an opportunity for me to seek forgiveness and try again. As character flaws are revealed in myself and in my children, the Lord gently guides us back to a loving perspective of one another. We have the opportunity to create an environment of blessings, rather than curses. As parents, we have the wonderful gift of knowing our children. We know things about their struggles, and their victories. We see when they start to waver in areas of their lives that need to be strengthened. And, because we are called to teach them at all times about God’s ways and His Word, we see how their heart responds to Him. When we see an area of their lives that needs some refining, we pray into that area first and then watch God bring healing and restoration. No other person, other than a parent can see into the life of their child in such a way. What a gift!
All children, and especially adolescents, have so many ideas and thoughts, plans and vision for their lives. They love to talk about their ideas, hopes and dreams – and they love for us to join in the discussion. They are amazing young people and I love that the Lord saw fit to make us their parents.
As they make the journey toward adulthood learning much about responsibility, work ethic, healthy choices, and in general God’s best for their lives, I must remain available to have those discussions and those heart-to-heart talks. They want to know what I think, and they want my approval. As we work through many positives as well as mistakes being made, the children need to be able to return to the safe, loving arms of their family. They hear our perspective, as parents who love them and understand the role we have in discipling them as we walk this road together in this season of our lives.
These teen years are not to be dreaded, rather they should be embraced. Teen years should not be synonymous with rebellion. It is a time where their hearts are wide open to us. As our relationships change and they are seeking more independence, I believe that independence is actually coupled with responsibility. I have seen a need to increase accountability in several areas of our teens lives, and that has been a great thing. I have watched them grow and learn to be more eager in their own commitments and to follow through with a sense of pride and honor. There is no better place for them to work through the newness and all the questions that come with these changes, than in the company of their parents. Although the message from the culture is that teens want their space and they do not want their parents involved in their lives, I have found this to be quite the opposite.
I hope to love, admonish, nurture, respond, repair and help my children to continue to develop and grow in their relationship with God, family and other wholesome relationships. My desire is that they embrace all that God has intended for them, and live in a manner worthy of their calling.