TO the parents of little ones, wisdom From the parents of big ones: BE INTENTIONAL!
I have been working with teenagers and their families for over 20 years!
The adolescent stage is the whitewater rafting ride of parenting. Tumultuous. Unpredictable. Haven’t you felt it, coasting along and you hit a rapid? Out of nowhere, the boat flips and everyone grabs a hold of anything to stay afloat. I have heard parents express it over and over again. You are not alone. You are normal.
Hang on, the rapid will pass.
As kids are pulling away and moving toward independence, it can feel like whiplash. For so many years the road was steady, conversation came easily, and family time wasn’t a forced expectation. But wow, the tides turn when those tween years hit. Don’t get me started on how tough it can be once the driver’s license is in hand! Let me assure you, it will pass, the Lord is your sure place to weather the tsunami.
So take a deep breath, seriously, it does help.
And remember, there is more stability in your relationship with your teenager than you may feel. God is cultivating deeper roots.
Some of us are wired to work with children, some with numbers, some with horses, and some with plants :) I love adolescents. Brilliant, abstract thoughts begin to bloom; skills, talents, and wiring become more and more clear…the intellectual and spiritual depth is both inspiring and exciting to watch. As they mature, they want their freedom and are afraid of it at the same time. For parents in this season, there is a constant state of tension in their homes. The reality is, you feel as if you are losing them.
So let me speak to parents of young children…
Observing the adolescent, anxious times has made me want to parachute into the homes of those who have elementary aged kids and plead:
“Have a plan!!!!”
“Prepare your raft for the rapid waters ahead!”
The years turn fast. Moms go from wiping down the scum on the high chair to trying to ignore to the scum in their teenager’s room! Subtly, but quickly, things change. Weeds have grown a chokehold on communication, the smartphone is sitting tall and pretty on the throne in the center of your home, and you have shifted from fatigue over midnight feedings to fatigue over stress!
The 911 scenarios with adolescents and technology keep pushing me to wave the warning flag earlier. What could have been helped with a little more intentionality? What boundaries could have been established a little earlier? Modern problems have us navigating a daunting learning curve; no one feels confident in the parenting process these days.
I know parents of teenagers who are jealous of parents with young kids. It's true. “They have the time to get control of the technology vortex,” they bemoan. Time is a gift, and if they could, they would go back with a plan.
To be sure, there is no clear path. Everyone is feeling ill-equipped and insecure. As a nation, we have been hit blindside; there is guilt and fear of judgment…but let it fall away, my friends! Let it fall away. No one has a clue. We are living in strange times!
If there is one exhortation I would give you, it is to listen to the cries of those ahead of you:
“MAKE A PLAN!!”
“DELAY THE SMARTPHONE!”
“HELP YOUR LITTLE ONES ENJOY REAL LIFE!”
“ESTABLISH BOUNDARIES NOW!”
“GET OUTSIDE! FOR THE SAKE OF THE DEVELOPING BRAIN!”
Plan while you pray. Seek out like-minded parents. Revisit your values. Proactive, intentional living doesn’t come naturally in our over-scheduled, distracted lives.
So here’s your homework: sit alone for an hour next week. Put it in your calendar, and with notebook in hand, brainstorm. Pray. Consider the changes you need to make and the boundaries you want to establish *. Expect it to be challenging, but trust the process. Kids are far more secure when there is a clear authority in the home. They hate it and want it at the same time! No wonder there is tension!
Seek the wisdom of God as you consider raising your kids in the opposite direction of the masses. Remember, the Kingdom of God is upside down. You will feel odd, but you will be grateful. Your kids will feel frustrated, but they will have peace.
Look around, observe the mess we are in…you will want to swim upstream!
* If you need help creating a plan, if you are unsure of what boundaries are realistic and which are not, feel free to contact me to set up a coaching session. This is what I do, this is what I love. It's NEVER to late to start.