Let's talk teens

Originally Appeared in : 9922-10/24/19

At a recent dentist appointment that involved me sitting in the chair for an extended period of time (which I survived without fear or pain because my dentist is the best.:I love you Dr. Vernon), I found myself watching one of those late-afternoon advice shows featuring families in difficult times.


This particular show focused on a teen girl whose mother was at her wit’s end. The details were sad and stressful, and I kept getting more afraid of the state of the world.


Drugs and sex and cellphones and terrible personal choices — there are so many things that can go wrong.


There is a unique and intense challenge in raising teenagers, or perhaps raising children who are now teenagers. It really can be scary, if you stop to think about it.


Which is why I don’t personally recommend you stop to think about it.


No, wait, hear me out. What I don’t mean is that you never think about the task and challenges and your particular teenager and how he or she is doing in this particular season. You need to use the brain God gave you. You need to have your eyes open and know what you are dealing with.


But what I don’t recommend is fixating on all the ways things can fall apart. Don’t allow your imagination to get the better of you. Parenting older children is a very delicate dance of being smart and aware without being overly fixated on the future.


I watched bits and pieces of that show and how it made me focus on all the horrible things that surely can go wrong with a person, before I stopped myself from getting terrified and discouraged.


“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” — Jeremiah 29:11.


What I think you should do is cut this scripture out and put it on your fridge or bathroom mirror or somewhere else very visible in your home. You should look at this scripture regularly and particularly if you have a child going through a hard time. You need to be reminded by the Lord that he loves your child so much and he has great plans for your child.


You might not believe it or see it or think it can be true. You might be in such a hard time with your child right now that you are really afraid. And that’s okay. But look at this scripture again and remember God’s promise to you. He loves your child more than you can fathom — he loves that child even more than you do.


Parenting in these years is tough and indeed a little scary. There isn’t a handbook that lays out exactly how to say the right thing at the right time. It can feel weird and overwhelming some days.


I recently had a conversation with one of my older boys that went something like this:
“What I’m about to say is going to sound clunky and awkward, and there’s no non-awkward way for me to say it. It’s my job as your mom to ask these weird questions, okay?”


And we proceeded from there, and we both survived. A significant part of parenting bigger kids is also learning to laugh at yourself. “Sorry for the awkwardness that you are about to witness but here we go...”


Paul and I have found that at the heart of these years is operating out of love.


Remember to love. Love this amazing creature who is learning to become an adult. Love these children through the victories; love them through the stupid mistakes. Sometimes love is indeed tough love, but it is always from a place of wanting the best for each of our children.


And be not afraid. God has plans, and your child is indeed on his radar.


Rachel Balducci is a wife and mother of six. She and her husband Paul are members of Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Augusta, GA. Her latest book, Make My Life Simple, is available on Amazon.


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