January 7th, 2014 § Leave a Comment
I am the father of teenagers. Yeah, I know. There are two of ’em. Couple years ago, my son got me in the fraternity into which fathers reluctantly, apprehensively shuffle. And although my daughter who turned thirteen a couple, short months ago technically followed her brother into teendom she was in all intents and purposes a “teenager” long before he. Her foreshadowing helped, but let’s face it: I’m new. Not sure what to do, where to go. And I have that familiar feeling that my whole stint here will be accompanied by this uncertainty. “You’re lost? Get used to it.” Okay. I will say this though, these teenagers have my full attention. So I’m learning.
Here’s the most important thing I’ve learned. The other day, I had a tough conversation with my son. I was correcting him, and he didn’t much want to hear it. I’ve discovered that talking incessantly at someone who’s not listening doesn’t get them to listen. Just multiply that statement by fifty when applied to teenagers. We were both done. Before parting in frustration, I told him that I loved him, that I thought about him and his sisters all the time, prayed for them every day, worried about them. When I said this, he looked into my eyes. After not making eye contact the whole time I was correcting him, the impassioned reminder about his father’s love had him looking into my eyes. In that moment, I literally saw him soften.
You will have tough things to say to your teenagers. They will come at a time when their capacity to listen to you will plummet like a led ball. The only thing that will keep your words buoyant will be their belief in your love for them. I really think my teenage son looked into my eyes, and examined my words. In that moment of fixed gaze, he cross-referenced my words to his memory.
What have I learned about parenting teenagers? Love them in a way now so that years from now when you’re neck deep in cell phones, skinny jeans, under developed thought processes, peer pressures … love them in a way now so whilst in the midst of all that, when you remind them that you love them, they’ll look into your eyes and find those words to be undeniable.