I've never walked an actual tightrope.
Frequently I feel like parenting adolescents must feel a lot like walking a tightrope. One has to balance just right and there are dire consequences if you lean too much to either side. In this case the sides being control vrs freedom, speaking vrs remaining quiet, involvement vrs staying out of it.
I want my teen sons to have ever increasing freedom and to experience the natural consequences (good and bad alike) of their actions so that they can become competent decision-makers. I want to create an environment that supports independent thought on their part. It's just not always easy watching them make decisions that I think are poor and knowing how much I should say, or if I should say anything.
I've invested into my sons for years and am confident that they've been given a foundation of the Bible and following after Christ. I know that I've messed up a lot, but I've always been honest about it with them, and they've always seen me repent when I'm wrong and accept God's forgiveness and move on. They can't help but have observed God's continual blessings on my life. They hear me frequently speak words of gratitude for how He has, and is continuing to, bless me. Speaking about what the Bible says on various day to day living issues is a routine part of how we live, praying when things come up is as natural for us as breathing. So I know the foundation is here.
But did you know that scientists say that the brain is not fully developed until some time in the late teens or early twenties? I saw a documentary regarding this a while back and it explained how maturation of cerebral fibers in the frontal lobes typically occurs during one's early twenties. Guess what the functions of the frontal lobe involve - the ability to recognize future consequences resulting from current actions, to choose between good and bad actions (or better and best), override and suppress unacceptable social responses, and determine similarities and differences between things or events. So why are we surprised when teenagers sometimes do dumb stuff and when we ask them why they did it they can not really explain?!
Did I mention the incredible hyper-sensitivity of a teenager?! They can say all manner of unkind things toward parents, but oh my goodness, no one knows like the parent of a teen how just the smallest comment can bring about a volcanic response that leaves one stunned and wondering what did I say that brought this result? My 15 year old actually said the other day that he shouldn't have to be concerned about hurting his dad or I's feelings, that he should be able to speak freely. This was not said in the midst of some discussion we were having, but rather in more of a proclamation situation. I wryly commented that relationships always involve considering how what we say will affect the other person and that, for what it's worth, I think kindness is grossly under rated. To these great pearls, he responded by blowing me off - ha, having teens definitely keeps one humble! I have to remind myself that teens are in the midst of an onslaught of hormones. In fact I read an interesting article that explained about these hormones not only cause adolescents to reach a flash point more easily, but they also increase their desire for excitement and exciting activities.
So let's think about this for a moment; teens are going though a time when they are experiencing intense emotions, coupled with a strong desire for thrills and intense emotions, when they are also not fully competent in the judgment, delaying gratification, portions of their brain. Gee, it's no wonder I feel like I'm walking a tightrope as a parent of teen sons!
The bottom line is that I'm grateful I can always pray for my kids, and pray often.
How about you, do you have a teen son or daughter, does your relationship with him/her sometimes feel like you're walking a tightrope? Can you remember back when you were a teen, what was it like between you and your parents?
5 hours ago