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.
If you swim with the sharks, you’re bound to get bit. One bad apple spoils the whole bushel. Bad company corrupts good character. Many parents have added these phrases to their lexicon, because they illustrate the dangers of running with the “wrong crowd”. As moms and dads, we know how susceptible kids are to peer influence. You’ve likely spent many sleepless nights worrying about the people your child is hanging around. What are they teaching my son? What are they pressuring my daughter to do? Are these friends that will give needed support and encouragement to my teen, or are they the type of people who will bring my child down?
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!
Very few comments made by high school seniors and college students can scare parents more than when they announce they have plans to go on a medical mission and travel to Guatemala, spend a few weeks in Rwanda with orphan kids, or go to Indonesia to minister to girls involved in the tragic and pathetic sex trade. As they share their excitement and enthusiasm for their hopeful venture, parents shudder with nervousness about all the potential hazards of travel as their child’s first campaign to “fly the coop” and “make a difference” silently fade to the background as all the reasons they shouldn’t go come to a parent’s mind, shouting, “We can’t let this happen!”
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.
Parenting teens is hard enough when parents agree on how a child should be parented; and even tougher when parenting styles collide. And the one place that parents should be especially concerned about not allowing confusion is in their own home. Confusion flourishes and relationships flounder when parents can’t get their parenting styles to compliment one another, during a time when a teen needs the cohesive and focused team approach by Mom and Dad, whether living in the same house or not.