Teenagers are a unique place in life. They feel grown up, and like they know it all, but (as we who are no longer teens know) they don't. But they're not kids either. It can be really tough. Our culture tells them on the one hand that they are women and men when it comes to their bodies and s*x, and yet when a tragedy happens they call them children. If the adults in their lives don't know how to classify them, no wonder they're confused!
I think a huge problem for families is that they live disjointed lives from one another. In the mornings everyone goes their own way, and they met back up at dinner - maybe - depending on sports activities - and then there is homework and bedtime. Only to wake up and do it all over again.
This does not allow us to really know our kids and it doesn't allow us to have built a wonderful foundation of trust and friendship that helps you through the years of adolescence.
Yesterday, we talked about boys and today I want to talk about girls. Ah, teen girls.
I have two of them at the moment, and one who is 21 and one who is 11. I find this era in raising a family to be delightful. I really do. That is not to say that we haven't had our times of struggles because we have, but because of the foundation we've built, we have gone through the struggles with our relationships intact.
A key (for either teen boys or girls) is for you as a parent or as an loving adult in their lives, is to have respect for them. I personally think this is key even when our children are young, we must respect the people that God has made them.
The teen years with girls can be fraught with runaway emotions. Those cyclical hormones are always flowing in our house. Some days there is drama. Big Drama. But we don't let it rule the person or our household. You can help them learn to control their emotions!
A huge mistake made by parents during these years is a move to become your teens 'pal' and step away from being the parent. We do this because we want our now nearly adult kids to 'like' us and we're afraid they won't if we don't let them do whatever it is they want to do. This is a problem.
Teenagers still need a parent. It gives them security and someone 'outside' of the drama that can, especially with girls, happen within their circle of friendship. They can depend on us to listen, and give advice, but we must remember that we are no longer parenting a small child that mostly just needs to hear "this is the way it is." We are parenting and guiding our teens into adulthood and we must help them to learn to think wisely about life.
I love my teenage girls - and my now adult daughter. They are delightful people, different from each other and yet with similar interests, too. They like each other, which is a blessing, considering that some of them are so different in personality!
We have managed to avoid boy/girl drama by encouraging them as young girls to be content to wait for who God has for them, and to treat guys as friends and brothers, until the time that they are ready to marry. We also made sure we told them over and over that it was perfectly normal to notice boys and to be attracted to certain ones. We just encouraged them to enjoy being friends, and to pay attention to how these cute boys acted in groups. Were they nice to others? How did they treat their siblings? Were they seem to like little kids? What was their relationship with their parents?
One of our girls thought a certain boy of our acquaintance was cute and she was drawn to his personality. However it wasn't long before she said to me that he wasn't one she would consider marrying because she could see through his interactions that he didn't really like children very much and she did and hoped to have many kids. This made us happy that she was paying attention and thinking well about these kinds of things.
I have learned to allow my girls the freedom to be different from me, and to enjoy who God has made them to be. I love watching them grow spiritually and emotionally. I love sitting around with them late at night and talking until we can hardly stay awake. I love taking them with me one on one to go grocery shopping.
I guess, I could go on and on. But I think you get the idea. Living with teenagers is fun, challenging, exasperating, and energy filled! It keeps you on your toes!
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