Going about my merry way I witnessed a mom roll her eyes when she was asked about her son. She said she wishes that he was doing things differently in his life. I couldn’t help but wonder why she thinks he needs to be doing things differently and what at this point has inspired him? If he’s living with a parent that wishes he was doing things differently, unless of course it is something harmful, that parent is subconsciously exuding a negative attitude toward him thus creating underlying friction, ultimately wrecking havoc on the relationship. By acknowledging her son’s decisions, a conversation would take place for her to understand why he is making the decisions that he is. For example, let’s assume the son wants to take a gap year before going off to college. If she simply says, “Wow! I’m surprised to hear you say that. Tell me more about what you are thinking in terms of what you would like to do in the interim?” She now has the opportunity to discuss his view.
Knowing this young man is a senior in high school, I found myself wondering what conversations may have taken place over time in the home to build trust? How did she handle conversations related to emotions? It seems that struggling with emotions without a grasp on how to label them would hinder one’s maturity. Was this going on in their home? Did her son feel he was violated or not fully accepted? Was he ever able to express his thoughts or have help labeling his emotions? Teens are bombarded with social aspects and hormones that contribute to their struggle and development. As a parent, it is our responsibility to help our children navigate these bumpy roads. Hoping our kids make different choices may actually hinder their progress as they discover their true identity.
It may seem like teens don’t want to engage in conversation but think twice! What they think is real and what we know, is that they need help sorting it all out. Who do you want leading them? Finding a time to be one-on-one in conversation is key to building trust and a place for them to reveal their thoughts. It has been said that if a teen is struggling, one of the best things you can do is go for a drive and drive for as long as you need to until they open up.
This poor mom, one might think, must feel unequipped. We only have so many tools before we head back to the hardware store for more. Helping our kids grow up is not an easy task. Researching, asking others who have gone before and applying principles of love enables us to help them be their best. Teens need tools just like adults. Engaging with teens emotionally and intellectually builds healthy relationships and fosters mentoring for the many challenges they face.
Do you suppose, had the mom turned the thought around, that perhaps she should be doing things different in his life? That maybe she might be able to be more at ease with his decisions? That he would feel accepted if she did? Allowing our kids to explore within the confines of house rules helps them with their own decision-making skills. These practices of acknowledging and engaging in conversation about their actions and motives builds trust. Humans want to belong and impress. To whom do you want your kids to impress? I hope it is you as the one that they can trust and rely on. Your home then rests in love and respect. Ideas are honored, accountability resides, discovery is encouraged, structure reflects boundaries and forgiveness is vital when we make poor decisions. Our leadership in the home prepares them for the leadership they seek and experience outside the home. The bumpy roads they experience living on their own hopefully are overcome by way of consulting with their Creator. There the silver lining of expectations exist. Pure and of truth.