Even Teens and Young Adults Have Priceless, Precious Moments
We all talk about and live through the teenage-to-young adults moments that make us as parents roll our eyes or unleash our tongues – whether it involves a quick mood change that leaves you speechless, talking back that flares the temper or a spontaneous decision that reflects “lack of thought.” If you aren’t at that phase in life yet, brace yourself. Even the sweetest ones will yell back at you and then say they don’t know why they did it. Truly, they don’t. The words are there, but the ability to articulate a feeling is still in the formation stages.
MIKE: The house is much more calm than it was about five years ago, when my wife and Number 2 had a conflict, what seemed like almost every day. My wife will tolerate mess and chaos for a while and then she snaps, and Number 2 would push her to the limit, even after the snap. Those were some interesting days. Truth be told though, Numbers 1, 3 and 4 each have their moments too.
There are times, however, when the comments from a young adult still melt your heart. When they are little, under 8 years old, there are a barrage of “I love yous” and hugs and kisses, which were priceless. As the kids get older and their minds develop more intentional comments, there can be more time between the “love ya moments;” however, after stepping through the daily mind field of hormones and emotions, it can be even more gratifying.
MIKE: Ah, yes. I just had this experience with Number 4. He had been whining about things most the weekend and I had been on him about changing his attitude. He asked me for help, and for an instant I was like “no way,” but I got up and took him where he needed to go. When we got in the car, away from the house, he said on his own, without prompting, “Thanks for being a great dad!” That was a keeper moment.
At each phase of a child’s life, a parent has to adjust to the needs at the time, and adapt the job description. At the infant phase, it is about taking care of every need, while at the toddler phase it is giving enough distance to walk and being there to offer comfort after a fall. At the teen phase, unconditional parent love is really put to the test. Kids naturally push the boundaries, testing theories and pushing for more independence. At the same time, we as parents are pushing them to get good grades, perform at their best and of course be a reflection of our awesome parenting abilities.
MIKE: Knowing my wife, she is being sarcastic at the awesome parent abilities. Some days are awesome and some days, well we should have stayed under the covers. Little Johnny who spoke in full sentences at age 2 is celebrated; little Tommy who is still not potty trained and grunts, not so much. Now that we have been through this four times, we can assure parents all will even out; however, living in the moment it is easy to fall into comparison mode.
Of course, we want to display the awesome acts of our pride and joy. When Madeline gets all A’s -- or now we call them 1’s -- or a near perfect score on the ACT test, her parents beam with pride and share the news of Facebook; while Susie, who is extremely social, but gets 1’s and 2’s and on the college entrance exam scored just high enough to get accepted to her two top schools. Susie’s parents may be happy and may secretly wonder what Madeline’s parents did.
Your neighbor's child played on the varsity football team all four years of high school, and the pictures of social media show his journey; while your own child who is the same age made a different choice you prefer not to post on social media.
MIKE: My wife and I debate about this all the time. I struggle to find joy in seeing people’s posts about every little move a child makes – “Look how great Sally is, she won another award;” or “My Michael just got accepted to every single program he every applied for…” My wife, on the other hand, comments on all, with a Congrats or Way to Go!
It’s not that I don’t enjoy seeing others succeed; I am just personally not a fan of boasting about every “success.” It’s like; do you keep up with the Jones’s and post a picture with a comment every time your child blows his nose? Or do you not post and then people think your child does nothing? Is this about my child or about me?
There is a risk of only sharing accomplishments. Do we only acknowledge behaviors when there is a ribbon, a letter or a title behind it? The thing about competition is that not everyone wins; at times, you did your best and got 10th place or 21st, and that is okay. While I can get caught up with the best of them about winning and taking home the trophy, there is so much more to being an adult than winning all the time.
Number 2 reminded me of that this week. She has always been a bright, opinionated human, even at a young age. In the book ZagZig Parenting, there are stories of Number 2 and how we as mother and daughter clashed on many occasions.
MIKE: That is an understatement. A clash I could have handled. This was more like an ongoing battle of teenage will and mom determination.
She is overseas right now and we mainly communicate via social media. She posted a wonderful, compassionate post about a child that had Cerebral Palsy, and shared a picture of her interacting with the child. Her post was a plea for compassion. My heart swelled. I read it again, and again. I did not help her think though it. I did not talk with her ahead of time. I did not edit anything. She encouraged a message of inclusion and to count God’s blessings. Priceless!