Jema at Rough Cut Gems is asking if the teen years have to be so turbulent. I have been a little hesitant to post on this because my own children are not yet grown up. So my credibility is not super strong, but I am seeing encouraging signs. I would like to share a conversation I had with my son.
A few months ago I took Jason (14) out to lunch. Actually, he suggested it and he was buying so off we went to Arby's for the 5 for $5 special. While I watched him eat his four sandwiches in the length of time it took me to eat one, we chatted about a lot of different things. When there was a lull in the conversation, I switched the subject to a scripture that I had been meaning to ask him about. Proverbs 22:36 says "My son, give me thine heart and let thine eyes observe my ways." This seemed like the appropriate time to ask him if we still retained his heart even though he was in the middle of growing from a boy to a man.
He grinned and said, "Mom, if you and dad didn't have my heart then do you think I'd be sitting here with you at Arby's right now?"
So I pressed him a little on why he thinks teens seem to stray away and what could a parent do to keep a child from rebelling against them and the Lord.
He said, "Don't bend the wire." I was confused. What exactly did that mean?
He kept going. "Did you ever notice that a wire once it has been bent can't go exactly straight again. I've tried it. It can go pretty straight but you can never get the kink out completely." Now, I was really confused and wondering if my son really understood what I was getting at.
I asked him, "What does any of this have to do with you and teenagers?"
"Mom," he said, "You and dad are the wire and I am trying to get you to bend a little but don't do it. Don't give in to my selfish demands. I may recover but it will never be quite the same. Most parents don't understand that we want you to say no. The minute you give in it's all over. I want to believe what you believe but if you don't believe in it why should I?"
I got it.
This is from a son who was very difficult to handle at different times. The son who in his early years could send me into tears just by walking into the room. Now he was sitting across from me and telling me to stay strong and stay the course. I am sure there will be a few more bumps in the road before he takes on the full responsibilities of a man but I am following his wise counsel and I think he is going to make one fine husband and father one day.
He gave me a few more hints on the mindset of a teen that I hope to blog about real soon. But I'll be busy the rest of the weekend so it'll have to wait.
Update: Read Extreme Parenting For more reading on parenting in the teen years.