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Joy in the Journey

November 28, 2013

by Linda Beerman
Sometimes you read or hear something that just verifies what you truly believe. That happened this week as my husband, Dan, and I read our morning devotions. From raising my own family, including foster children, to teaching for many years, and now on to loving and understanding grandchildren, this piece of writing is one that I want to pass on. It just holds so much truth and wisdom. Maybe you can glean some thought provoking tips from it too. Whether you are in the middle of raising kids or are in the support role with grandkids or other people's children, this speaks to most of us.

"Getting Them From Childhood to Adulthood" from a devotion booklet entitled: The Word For You Today.

Do you sometimes wonder if your teenager is ever going to reach maturity? Welcome to the toughest phase of parenting! A teenager can go from optimism to pessimism, excitement to boredom, self-confidence to self-doubt, happiness to despair, sociability to reclusiveness, tranquility to volatility, cooperation to opposition - in a head-spinning second! And when you ask them, "What's wrong?" they say, "Nothing," or "I don't know". And the truth is, they don't! Bombarded by changing biochemistry, your child is navigating between the worlds of childhood and adulthood, needing your understanding and patience. For them the odyssey of adolescence can feel freakish, embarrassing and perplexing. Children know the roles and rules of THEIR world; adults know THEIRS. Children are expected to act like children, and adults like adults. But teenagers have traits of both worlds, yet belong in neither. When they're in child mode, they're forbidden to be childish. "Will you ever grow up?" we ask. When they're in adult mode, they're denied adult privileges. "Of course you can't...You're just a kid!" The worlds of adults and children are relatively distinct, stable, predictable places. But it's not so in the fuzzy realm of your teen. They alternate between two worlds, never certain whether they're fish or fowl, adult or child. So they gravitate toward peers who share but also don't understand their experiences. What do they need? Parents (teachers, other adults) who understand and assure them, "When I was a child, I spoke..understood...thought as a child, like you do. But when I became a man (or woman) I outgrew the confusion, and you will too."

Going from childhood to adulthood is a transition that requires a lot of wisdom and love. Your teen will behave child-like sometimes, and adult-like other times. Your job is to realize that whatever their status, they will become a man (woman) and they will remain adult! Navigating through their child-adult struggles elevates your teen's stress levels, sometimes making them feel out of control. To help them become a mature adult: 1. Be rational, not reactive. Your role requires you to be "clear minded and self-controlled". Be the grownup; you cannot help a child to become an adult if you're not one. 2. Be their parent (teacher, another adult) not their buddy. They need someone "in charge" to shepherd them toward maturity. If you abdicate your role because you're afraid of your child's anger, rejection, or unhappiness, you abandon them to their own confused ways. You are the calm God put in their storm - the lighthouse to guide them. In the short term they may consider your values, rules, lifestyle, and morals outdated. Expect no less; that's par for the course in parenting (teaching, etc..). Hold this line! Forget becoming "cool" by lowering your standards; that's a no-win alternative to good parenting (teaching..). They'll challenge you if you're not cool and they'll challenge you if you are. (Nothing is as "uncool" to a teen as a parent trying to be "cool"!) Be yourself, maintain Biblical standards; they need you to have character. Yes, they'll fight you now, but if you remain resolute, loving, and consistent, they'll follow in your footsteps.

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