It’s probably happened to a lot of dads. Your kid spends his mornings watching you drag yourself to the bathroom mirror, pile some shaving cream in your hand, break out your razor, and start shaving your face. Soon, your son (or maybe even daughter) decides they need to shave too. So you squirt a little cream in their hands, supply them a with tongue depressor, and let them “shave.” As you both lean into the vanity mirror, it’s hard not to laugh, watching your five-year-old seriously attack the non-existent stubble on his face.
What is it about teenagers that makes it so easy for them to get under our skin? We love our kids, for sure. But between the ages of 12 and 20, teens really start to develop and refine the unique ability to raise our blood pressure! Maybe it’s because we care about our kids so much that they can invoke such strong reactions in us. I’ve loved every one of the 2,500 kids who have made their way through the doors of our Heartlight campus. But let me tell you; there were times I was so frustrated with a teen’s behavior or attitude, I was about ready to put him on the next ferry to Iceland and wish him Bon Voyage!
It’s never a conversation a mom or dad wants to have with their child. Talking about sex with your teen or pre-teen is uncomfortable for both you and your kid. There’s a level of embarrassment, a fumbling for the right words, perhaps a hesitancy to share or to ask questions. I’ll be honest; I’ve been talking to teens about sex for close to three decades, and it never gets any easier.
As a child moves from his elementary years into early adolescence, it’s essential that the style of communicating with your child change with them. They are moving from “concrete” thinking to “abstract” thought. What was “non-hormonal” now becomes laced with hormones. Total dependence moves closer to independence. While they have always wanted to listen, now they want to express.
One of my goals at Parenting Today’s Teens is to provide parents with all the tools I can offer to help them connect with kids in deeper, more meaningful ways. This is a privilege I do not take lightly. Because I want to help moms and dads as much as I can, I often have to broach sensitive issues. If I were to shy away from these tough conversations, it would mean that I’m not doing my job. And perhaps there is no subject today that is more sensitive than same-sex relationships.
I’ve been confronting kids for 35 years and it wasn’t any easier the last time as it was the first time I challenged or confronted behavior, attitudes, motives, or actions that I thought were unacceptable or inappropriate. One would think that after living with 2,500+ high school kids, the act of confrontation would be simple and comfortable. It’s not. But I have learned this through the years. I’ve never liked the process of confrontation, but I sure love the results. Conflict is a pre-cursor to change, not only in the life of the one I confront, but in my own life as well.
From the moment the doctor places that sweet, newborn baby in our arms, we parents start to worry. The dangers we never considered before starting a family now become monumental. So we spend a weekend baby-proofing the house with complex locks and latches. When our kid gets the sniffles, we assume it is some rare Zebra Flu, and rush them to the doctor. When they go skateboarding, we fit them with pads and helmets, and cover them in bubble-wrap, just in case. And when our kids rush into the door waving that driver’s license, all moms and dads can think about are the many ways their precious kid can be injured inside that two-ton metal death trap we call “cars.” Let’s not sugarcoat it—parents worry about their kids!