When we became parents, we noticed that the chief goal of many parents who are older is to tell you how horrible the next stage of parenting will be. This is especially true as your kids enter the teen years.
“You just wait,” they say. “Your kids will be teens. We’ll have to talk you down off a ledge.”
But, in fact, the opposite was true. We loved those years. Oh sure, they were challenging. But a life without challenge is a life without…well, without teenagers.
From the day they are born, children have one thing in mind: becoming teenagers and taking over the planet. They want us grown-ups to get out of the way. They make fun of our hairstyle (if we are lucky enough to have one), spend our money, crash our cars, and eat our lunch. They even stop laughing at our jokes.
Here are a few things I am waiting to hear my teenagers say. Take a deep breath and grab your heart medication. Any two of these statements could give a parent heart failure:
• Dad, I sure could use a little advice.
• We won’t need the car—we’re walking.
• There’s nothing to eat around here. I’ll go buy something.
• We don’t do anything as a family anymore.
• You relax. I’ll do the dishes.
• Hey, I’ve been on the phone a lot. Why don’t I pay the phone bill this month?
• Is my music bothering you?
• This is my room, but it’s your house.
• Well, lookie there! It’s ten p.m.! I’d better go to bed!
If you’re the parent of a teenager, God bless your cotton socks, my friend. These can be invigorating years. But here’s something you need to tell yourself each and every day: Apart from selling mittens to South Africans, parenting teenagers is the world’s toughest job, so I will go easy on myself. I will not compare myself with other parents who sit around looking happy and well organized. Chances are, they are heavily medicated anyway. Yes, they may be hours from being institutionalized.
I love Paul’s words of encouragement to the believers in Galatians 6:9. I think many of them had teenagers. He said, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” So hang in there. And whatever you do, don’t forget to laugh.
Someone mailed me a plaque one day. It said: “Teenagers! Tired of being harassed by your parents? Act now. Move out. Get a job and pay your own bills while you still know everything.”
I hung it up in my study. It went missing the very next day.
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