Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Mistake We Make In This Modern Age Of Parenting - We Forget What It Is To Be A Teen

This may seem a little off beat from my usual blog but a verse really grabbed me the other day as I was doing my daily reading. It struck me because in this modern age of communication we have greater access to people's thoughts and communications than at any other time in history. We get to hear things that in the past we would have no access too:

Do not pay attention to every word people say, 
   or you may hear your servant cursing you— 
for you know in your heart 
   that many times you yourself have cursed others. (Ecclesiastes 7:21-22)

When I read this I actually read it like:

"Do not pay attention to every word your children say,
or you may hear your children cursing you -
for you know in your heart
that many times you yourself have cursed your parents."

Think about that for a minute. When we were young our parents didn't have access to our FaceBook and they weren't able to check up on our histories to see our conversations. Imagine what may have resulted if they had heard some of the private conversation we had with our friends. We all have frustrating days, especially children who have to deal with the inconsistencies of their parents. As parents we try our best to be consistent but there are days when we are overwhelmed, distracted, stressed and we are less than our ideal desire as a parent. Our children don't have the maturity to understand this and or what we are dealing with. All they see is that last week we said that and now we are saying this.

You know our tendency to complain as adults but do you also remember that we were complainers as kids? Who did we complain to? Our friends of course. On the way to school, at school, on the way home, at the neighbourhood hang out, we voiced our complaints, opinions and desires about our parents. It was not always kind but it helped to vent our frustrations. But we didn't stay there in that place of immaturity; we grew up, matured and came to appreciate our parents for everything they did and put up with and we never stopped loving them, even in the midst of the complaints.

Fast forward to today, the age of social networking and parent policing. In our desire to protect our children from the evil that is in this world, from people who would want to harm them, we have access to the conversations they have with their friends. It is like our parents riding the school bus with us or listening in at the neighbourhood hang out. We have an unprecedented access to their complaints, opinions and thoughts which are sometimes about us. It is not abnormal the things that they say but we take it personally. All I can say is, imagine if our parents had heard us, yet we turned out to love and respect  our parents.

Children, teens, youth need to have some space to vent, even if they are off the wall wrong about what they are saying. I have made the mistake too many times to count, not understanding that fine line of protecting them from evil and allowing them some freedom to express their frustration. The only thing it accomplished was causing my children to take a step further away from me. Instead of looking at the natural need to vent frustration, I wanted to correct their perception. Not the wisest thing to do in the midst of venting. Now I hear Solomon's words:

Do not pay attention to every word people say, 
   or you may hear your servant cursing you— 
for you know in your heart 
   that many times you yourself have cursed others.

We still need access to their FaceBook and we still need to check their conversations but we need to apply a filter so we are only looking for the really dangerous stuff. We need to get a thick skin, filter out the complaints and venting with their friends and allow them that time of awkwardness while moving from child to adult. Some of the things they say may be unjustified and may even sting but remember what you said about your parents and let it go. If you have been training them in the way of the Lord it will all even out when they are adults.

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1 comment:

Philip said...

Hey Paul,
Really interesting thoughts here. I work with youth but had never thought of how parents are in this awkward position a lot. Good advice.