Teenagers are a lot like newborns.
They need lots of sleep, they need to be comforted, and they need to be fed in short intervals, roughly every 3 to 4 hours.
Instead of dirty diapers, now they have smelly hormones and stinking attitudes. We didn’t get angry or upset by diapers, and we don’t need get upset when issues flare up. We remind them to shower regularly and purchase deodorant, hygiene products, and other grooming supplies for their bodily needs.
As adults we need to set the example of self-controlled adult behavior. Hormones, we know, make people act in ways they regret. By remaining impervious and calm, the momentary flare up can die out quickly. Like starving a fire of oxygen, we can choose not to add fuel to the fire.
When my babies started tummy time, they let me know that it wasn’t appreciated. I was encouraged by books and our pediatrician to implement tummy time. I trusted that momentary discomfort would be beneficial to their long term health and development. Eventually babies gain strength to hold their heads up. They learn to control their bodies and enjoy being on their tummy.
Now with teens, I need to carefully choose the things I know will cause them discomfort yet bring long-term character growth, developing the person they are becoming.
The phrase, “Pick your battles” often comes to my mind. I don’t want to be combative, nagging, or critical because this isn’t respectful or loving. I also don’t want to appease or avoid issues that lead to complacency, carelessness, and possibly ruin.
Comforting teens, especially when they are being prickly, is an effort in sacrificial love. I have experienced ornery kids that I did not want to show kindness to, and often haven’t. I have repented and vowed to do better next time, only to get after them the same way the next day.
Parenting is loving and kind. Parenting means disciplining and holding them accountable. Being a parent isn’t just a title, it is a calling that comes with a long job description and requires almost no qualifications.
Being the parent demands your time, attention, authority, and perseverance. It will humble you and cause you sleepless nights and moments that will bring you to your knees in fervent prayer.
I love my teenagers, but they aren’t perfect and neither am I. I don’t always get it right, but God is patient while parenting me as I am parenting my children. I know what I ought to do and when I fall short, I repent. God is kind, and we have more days filled with good moments than bad.
Teens need to be fed often. It is amazing how a steady supply of food really helps bad attitudes. They often act grumpy and cranky because they need water and something good to eat.
Building them up requires both kind and encouraging words and healthy and fortifying foods. They are growing, changing and active. They need a regular supply of good food.
To remind myself not to get on their case and show them love in a real and physical way (even when they don’t want physical touch), I can remember to smile and hand them a snack.
My motto and mindset:
“Have a smile and here’s a snack.”