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Family life, Interpersonal relationships, Parenting

Entering Teenagedom With Confidence

Cedar Mountain Wilderness in northern Utah, USA.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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?


About michaelkingbooks

I write stories of faith and family, love and loss, heartache and triumph. Here I blog about faith, relationships, and genuine living.


8 thoughts on “Entering Teenagedom With Confidence

  1. Good thoughts, Mike. We entered the same world recently. After years of being a youth director, you’d think I was prepared. One thing I am thrilled about is going with her on her first missions trip this summer. I am prayerful that God will use this experience for her spiritual maturity. I think that sharing meaningful experiences with our kids is really important.

    Posted by friartuckerx6 | April 20, 2012, 9:19 am
  2. I just happened upon your blog and would like to say thank you. I am one of four girls in my family and this is also how my parents approached our older years. I just had a little girl of my own (she’s only four weeks old now) and I know I have a ways to go until these years, but mutual respect and open communication starts early, so thank you for this. I will be keeping it close for when we reach these years!

    Posted by Emily | April 20, 2012, 9:40 am
    • Emily, I’m so glad you found the blog. Thanks for weighing in and congrats on the birth of you daughter. We’ve always had very open communication with our girls (sometimes we can’t keep them quiet!). In fact, I just had a talk with our oldest about this the other day and she told me she knows she can talk to my wife or me about anything. What a blessing to hear that!

      Posted by michaelkingbooks | April 20, 2012, 10:07 am
  3. I have a 15yo daughter and a 17yo son, who both are still very open to their parents, sharing with us and enjoying our company. So I can tell you that what we’re doing is working. 🙂 Our approach has always been that we are preparing them to leave the home and launch successfully into adulthood. I have kept this in mind from their very earliest days. That keeps me from clinging to them and subconsciously retarding their growth and maturity. I make it a point to listen to them when they talk about anything at all, engaging in full conversation about what interests them. Sometimes it bores me to tears, but I never cut them off or tune them out. We have always consulted them about what activities they want to be involved in (music, shooting sports, etc.) and have encouraged them to think about what they will “be” when they grow up. We have consistently added more responsibility as they grow, and granted more freedom, too. They have always lived up to our trust. Rather than telling them that they would not be dating, I presented the several options to them, gave them some examples of each kind and told them why I believed it to be a detrimental practice. I gave them some assigned reading on the subject and then prayed a lot while they made decisions. 😉 This allowed them to make the decision on their own, thus giving them nothing to rebel against. It was not easy! I spent a few weeks in intense prayer on the subject! And we sometimes have to adjust our approach to things. But it’s going great, so I know we’re on the right track!

    Posted by ladykyria | April 20, 2012, 3:25 pm
    • Thank you, Kyria, for your comments and advice. You’re an encouragement! We’ve begun discussions with our daughter about the dating thing too and feel the same way you do. She went to a purity conference last year and it really gave her a lot to think about. She’s an intelligent, level-headed young lady so I’m hopefully confident that (while being bathed in prayer) she’ll make the right choices. I think we all realize, too, that she’s setting the pace and example for her three sisters following behind her.

      Posted by michaelkingbooks | April 21, 2012, 8:27 am
  4. Hormones, hormones, hormones. They make us crazy, whiny, sorrowful, giddy, passionate, and stupid. I remember. Brace yourself for those outbursts and handle with care. Do explain the effects to your girls. They need to know there’s a physiological reason for their feelings.

    Posted by Nicole | April 22, 2012, 11:05 am

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