My wife and I recently welcomed our oldest daughter into teenagedom. Now, we’ve been hearing horror stories about this season of life for years. “Oh, just wait ’til you hit the teenage years.” “You think it’s tough now, wait until you’re living with a teenager.” “Hope you make it through the teenage years.”
You’d think we were entering a foreign and strange land inhabited by flesh-eating mutants with forked tongues and overgrown canine teeth.
(I will say, in rebuttal to these types of comments, that our daughter–all of our daughters–are wonderful young women, sweet, thoughtful, a joy to be around . . . but I’m a dad and admittedly very biased.)
With four daughters I know we have many years ahead of us to travel this teenage territory and right now we’re only standing on the precipice, looking out across that vast uncharted land, but I’m confident that with prayer and patience and lots of love, we can all make it through without harm . . . at least not with anything permanent.
And even though I’m green there’s still a few things I’ve learned already. And hopefully I’ll carry these lessons with me for the next 19 or so years.
- Talking issues out goes a lot farther than hollering or sarcasm. My daughter wants to be reasoned with, she wants answers and explanations, not just a bunch of directives and orders.
- Freedom is important. She wants to know we trust her to handle some things on her own. She wants to be a part of decision-making. The challenge is determining how much freedom she gets.
- Responsibility is something taught. This means trial and error and probably more error than trial at first. Patience is key here and lots of long-suffering.
- Respect is priceless. She’s allowed to disagree with us as long as it’s done respectfully and thoughtfully. We need to always treat her with respect and expect the same in return.
- Humility is a non-negotiable. I need to listen to her when she disagrees and admit when she’s right and I’m wrong, or when she has a better point than I do (doggonit).
- Failure is always an option. We need to allow her the opportunity to succeed or fail realizing that through failure important life lessons can be learned.
- Communication is everything. If all these other things are jiving, the lines of communication will remain open and for both teen and parent alike, that is irreplacable.
Any other advice for a couple of green parents embarking on this journey that will last for the next 19 years?