In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tightrope walking

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?


Andrea said...

The teenage years are most difficult and challenging! GOD BLESS YOU!!

Denise said...

I pray for all teenagers.

Michelle said...

I've read similar studies on the development of a teens brain and the inability to comprehend consequences. Isn't that scary?! I have a long way to go before the teen years though!

When I was a parents were idiots. Well, at least my mom was. Be thankful you don't have a girl! I've heard it's worse between moms and daughters. My situation was different...I had NO..N-O respect for my mom. She was a mother of convenience so I said and did what I wanted in her home. (I mentioned this a bit in my Parenting Reflections a while back.) Anyways...from what I have "seen and heard" through your are completely on the right rope on your walk. Your boys seem to appear to be more level headed and Christ minded than many/most of the teens I know.

Being Me said...

Oh my...I can relate to this..I wonder too and think that the kids are more self-absorbed inspite of everything they have. It's as if they are entitled to it and do not have to appreciate anything.

I pray for them too..
God Bless you


Anonymous said...

I was intrigued... You know how all children believe parents don't have a CLUE how to be a parent? I think you are different. You know your stuff.

I recognized myself (being 20) in all of these tightwalk situations. I found it humorous that our frontal cortex isn't fully developed until early twenties. This gives me many excuses for bad decisions. (Not really, but I'm going to use it)

Anyway, I was impressed by this post.

photogr said...

Most teens think at an early age that they know all there is to know and their parents are too restrictive or too old fashioned. I too was in that thought mode in my teen years.

It wasn't untill I was in my 30s that I realized I didn't know as much as I thought I did and better appreciated my parents wisdom during my rebellious teen years.

Tracy said...

Thanks for the encouragement Michelle; I really am blessed with 3 awesome sons. But sometimes I have to remind myself when I'm frustrated, irritated or hurt by something my sons say or do that the youngest two are still teens....

OK Marty you made me laugh. I think you're right that teens really think their parents don't have a clue. When my 21yr old son was visiting a while ago(he goes to college across the country)he told me that Mark Twain quote that goes something like this
“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” He said that the older he gets the more he realizes I do know; boy was that a blessing to hear!

RCUBEs said...

If ever I fall, I'm not afraid because I know He will be there to catch me. :)

It really made a difference when the Lord found me. As I shared Him with our teenager, it is different when they have that kind of reverential fear of the Lord. My hubby and I are so blessed with our child but even more so, with the guidance He imparts to us that in turn, we can share with our child. To Him be the glory!

GCT said...

OT, but the picture that you show in this post is from a good movie, if anyone would like to check it out. It's called "Man on Wire" and it's about a Frenchman who strung a tightrope wire across the World Trade Center towers in NY and did a tightrope walking act.

Andrea said...

Hope you don't mind. I just added a link to your blog on arise 2 write.

Deborah Ann said...

I have 5 sisters, and it was my heart's desire to have a gaggle of girls of my own. Well, not any more! I ended up with 3 boys and 1 girl, and let me tell you, that 1 girl sapped me of my strength. The raging hormones...Lord! I'll take boys anyday.

But in all fairness, I have to say that even though we all lived through our fair share of trials during the teen years, my kids have grown into loving, caring adults. God has been good!

jenny said...

i've been there:p
been busy with my school stuffs :0

hope your doin fine:)\

Have a blessed day:D

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