If you are a parent you Christine’s challenge will resonate with you. She is the mom of six and some of those children are teenagers. Enough said, right? Here is her challenge:
I am a pro when it comes to raising young children.
Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers are my kind of people.
I get them.
I know what to do with them.
I know how to have fun with them.
I know how to discipline them.
I know how to raise them.
Conversely, I am at a loss when it comes to raising teenagers.
My struggles with my teens stem from one issue.
Basically, this video nails it.
I am the man in the video, and the woman can be replaced with any one of my four teenagers.
My challenge is keeping my mouth shut.
The other day, in a very calm, rational way, my 14 year old daughter said to me, “Mom, when I’m mad about something and start to complain about it, that is not the time for you to tell me what I should do or ask me what I’m going to do. I just need you to listen. Your talking only makes me madder. At that point, I won’t agree with anything you say no matter how much sense it makes. Later, when I’m calm, that’s when I will listen and probably agree with you. Later is when I’ll be able to come up with a plan for what I’m going to do. But in the moment, just don’t talk.”
Thank God I have a daughter who will say it like it is in words I can understand.
I have a son who tells me the same thing, but in very different, highly confusing ways.
His chosen methods for letting me know I talk too much are lying and avoiding me.
I haven’t messed up so much with the younger two yet, so they haven’t felt a need to let me know. Yet.
I am a problem solver. It’s what I do. The moment someone starts to tell me about a problem, my brain starts coming up with a list of solutions. With adults, I am pretty good about keeping my solutions to myself. I have a strict rule about not giving advice unless the person asks for it.
Not so with my teens.
If one were to look inside my brain, he would find a gigantic, never-ending fight going on. There is the super-hero in a cape, trying desperately to swoop in and tell my kids what they should do. She wants to yell things like, “If I were you, I’d…” or “It would be a whole lot easier if you…” She never stops talking.
But then there is the hippie, with flowers in her hair and long, flowing clothing. She wants to be calm and quietly lead my teens in a way which allows them to make their own decisions and their own mistakes.
Usually, in my brain, the hippie is trying to tackle and gag the super-hero, but the super-hero is one strong pain in the neck. The hippie doesn’t win all that often.
However, things have been happening lately that are forcing me to see the mistakes I have been making. They are humbling and painful, as so many life lessons are. While at the time I thought I was doing the right things, I now know that my big mouth has been causing some serious problems. I need to rectify it immediately.
I am doing no one any good by constantly trying to give them solutions.
I am doing no one any good by telling them how I would handle a situation.
I am failing to help my kids make their own decisions and learn their own lessons.
In the process, I’m pushing my teens away.
I need to give that hippie a whole lot more power and strip that super-hero of her cape.
I need to bite my tongue, even if it bleeds.
Which it probably will.
I have four teenagers. That is a whole mess of tongue-biting.
Isn’t Christine great? She is the type of mom you want living on your street. And not because she knows the fastest route to the Emergency Room (she has SIX kids, she is there a lot). Between the farm, the children, the husband and well life she has a lot of blog-fodder. Thank goodness because she is one of the funniest and endearing writers I know. Please visit her blog at A Fly on Our Chicken Coop Wall.
And if you ever invent band aids for tongue biting let her know!
What's your challenge is a series that was inspired by a program I created at Abby's school. I am amazed at how honest and hopeful the challenges have been. Thank you to all who have contributed. To submit your challenge, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am participating in the 31 for 21 blog Challenge to raise awareness for Down Syndrome.