Dear Parents of teens...
How the heck did we get here? Last week we were having Wonderland tea parties or watching pirates swashbuckle their way through the backyard. We were cool, to an extent and they used to run toward us when the camera came out. Things changed overnight it seems. We went from ruffles, monograms, and seersucker to “Do you really think I’m buying THAT for you to wear?” It’s crazy really and we are raising our kids in a world so very different from what we experienced.
Last week, I took T’s phone away and you’d have thought the world was ending. Yet, we both survived. There are so many different ways that Satan tries to attack our families and I believe with everything in me that he is after our children, especially our teens. They have freedoms and technologies that have never existed before. With these come silent attacks that we have to pray through, when it would be so much easier to hold on to the anger and glare every time we were in the same room together.Teens are more connected to each other now and while there is good to come of that; it’s also very scary. How will my teen develop her own sense of style and sense of self when she’s somehow always connected to her peers? In this peer group, will he lead or will he follow? Will her friends ever get to see that goofy personality that’s hidden beyond the shy exterior? How will each of them develop their individuality? Parents, that’s where we come in again, in subtle, supportive ways, instead of those over-the-top things we did when they were small. Host a game night at your house and take up the phones. Trust me. I’ve done it. They will live! Have plenty of food. You’d be amazed at the fun a frisbee and some modeling clay are to these “big kids”.
Mamas, they still need us. Daddies, they need you, too. Know your child’s closest friends by name. Celebrate their accomplishments, too. “Great game, Jake”, with a pat on the back. “Hey, Amy, good job on that solo.” Our big babies need us to take notice and to be real. They need trustworthy adults and safe homes to “chill” in…with good snacks, of course. We need to be intentional with our kids, even as they gain their independence. They are the future leaders of our governments, communities, and churches. Make them a priority, Mom, instead of complaining all the time about the messes they make, promises they break, things they “forget”. I’m the parent of the most forgetful child on the planet and it aggravates me to no end. Yes, I yell and fuss, but I am learning to talk with her instead about responsibilities and learning to live with consequences.
Your high schoolers need your support and your prayers. I think we’ve all forgotten how freaked out we got when everyone asked, “Where are ya going to college? Whatcha gonna study? What’d ya mean you don’t know? Show them options. Encourage them to dream. Tell them it’s okay if it’s not all figured out yet.
Most of all, open your heart, your home, and lend your ear and support to this crazy bunch of know-it-alls that can’t seem to wait to get away from us. They need YOU and Me. Let’s be the safe village for them.
Weekly columnist. Feature Writer.