Hello, my friends!! Welcome back to the blog!
March is a full month for us. My mom was here visiting last week, and I leave tomorrow to fly down to Florida to see our daughters at college. They’re currently finishing up midterm exams, so I expect there to be lots of eating, shopping, and sleeping 🙂
Yesterday one of those “4 years ago today” videos popped up, and it was from a fine arts competition our girls were in on March 15, 2018. Our younger daughter was a high school freshman and the older one a junior, and it was a walk down memory lane to watch those old performances.
We were right in the middle of the “parenting teenagers” years at that point. There were some wonderfully sweet moments and some rather difficult ones. As is true in any parenting stage, there were a few times when our children disappointed us. When they do that as teenagers, though, the stakes can seem higher. The mistakes they make in those years can have long-lasting consequences.
As we walk through those times when our teenagers frustrate us or fail to meet our expectations, here are seven things we can do to navigate the situation graciously.
1. Affirm your love for them.
When something your teenager’s done or a choice they’ve made disappoints you, let them know that you still love them. Your love is not based on anything except the fact that he or she is your child. Yes, their actions may disappoint you, but your love for them doesn’t change.
2. Wait before addressing the issue.
Make sure you have all the facts before you begin dealing with the situation. And even once you have all the information, take time for a few deep breaths or to get your emotions under control if needed. I like to take a minute and think through what I want to communicate in our discussion.
3. Have reasonable consequences.
Natural consequences are the best teacher, so let those play out if applicable. Otherwise, try to tie any consequences to their actions. For example, “You went somewhere you weren’t supposed to, so now you have to hang out at home for two weeks.” You can also have your teenager weigh in on what they think the consequences should be. They may be harder on themselves than you think they will be.
4. Refuse to focus on what others (friends, family members) are going to say about the situation.
Whatever happened is only between you, your child, and any other person that was directly involved. Otherwise, unless you seek a trusted person’s wise counsel, no one else has the right to speak into the situation.
5. Talk to God about your disappointment.
Your mama’s heart hurts. The path your child went down is not one you wanted for them. Go to God for comfort and refuge. And pray for your teenager, that they will learn from this and that God will use it to mature them.
6. Leave it in the past and refuse to bring it up again.
Once consequences, if necessary, have been given, it’s over. Don’t rehash it the next time they do something wrong. What’s done is done, so move on.
7. Don’t blame yourself for your child’s poor decision.
They made their choice and they’ll have to live with it. Should you do an honest evaluation to see if you might handle something differently in the future? Sure. But what they decided to do is not your fault, so lose the guilt.
It’s probably safe to say that every teenager disappoints their parents some time, whether in a small way or a more notable one. But we’d all admit that we’re not perfect parents either! If our teens can learn from their mistakes today, they can be better prepared for the future. Let’s ask God to give us wisdom to handle these situations and seek to maintain a loving relationship with our children throughout the teenage years.