Thursday, November 18, 2010

It Doesn't Have To Be Tough!

We have been so excited as we look forward to having all of our family together for Thanksgiving for the first time since we left TN six years ago. I was reflecting on that as I did my walking this morning and I found myself thinking about how close we are to having grandchildren becoming teenagers. It truly does seem like yesterday when our three were going through their teenage years. They were wonderful years, and we have nothing but great memories as a family when we think back over those times. Unfortunately, many families go through some pretty tough years of conflict, rebellion, and stress. For a lot of teens, those transition years are traumatic and, in some cases, life altering.
Why are the teen years so difficult? It's the time in our life when some major things merge, or maybe crash, together. Three things are impacting the teen brain: the desire for independence, the desperate need for acceptance and affirmation, and the discovery of desires, experiences, and challenges not available previously. Any young person, who doesn't have a good foundation of character, self-control, and self-esteem, will have a serious struggle on their hands as they try to walk through the mine-field of peer pressure, decision making, and temptations.
Healthy parenting is still the best hope for preparing any youngster for those tough years. The right kind of parenting provides the balance and the merging of self-control and self-esteem. All parental discipline is, or should be, about helping a child move from parent control to self-control, because it's in those teen years that the parent won't always be around. However, if the parenting is just about parent control, and it isn't building self-esteem along with the proper discipline, that parental control will simply be replaced by peer control and the absence of self-control.
When parental control is driven by parent comfort, the need for peace, frustration, or just being in charge, and there is little or no building of self-worth or of significance and confidence in the child, that child will not be ready or capable of resisting the three brain attackers mentioned above. When parenting provides lots of love, clear direction, and consistent discipline, that new teenager will feel good enough about himself or herself to "Just Say NO" to anything they need to resist.
No one ever said it was easy being a parent. In fact, next to your own walk with God and maintaining a healthy marriage, it is the most important thing any of us will ever do - and we only get one chance to do it right!
I'm excited, if the Lord lets me hang around that long, about seeing my grand children become teenagers. They have incredible parents - no brag, just fact - and I know they will all have a wonderful time through all those challenging years. We did, and I thank God for it often.

1 comment:

JW said...

Hey Mike...Cathy and I have often commented to each other about what a great job you and Donna must have done parenting your children, because they are all such quality people. Cathy comments, everytime one of your daughters are in town, about what great kids your grandchildren are. You guys have done a great job, and your children are doing a great job too!