3 Conversations I Never Thought I Would Have With My Teen
Teenagers! Just that one word evokes many different responses, doesn’t it?
I only have one teenager so I’m not sure how qualified that makes me to talk about them. And truth be told, she's a newbie teenager, just thirteen-years-old. But with four more children following (sooner than I wish to admit) into their teenage years, I'm trying to learn quickly how to parent this age.
Who am I kidding though? Teenage issues and conversations don’t actually start when our kids hit that magic thirteenth birthday. They can begin as early as ages ten, eleven, and twelve. And some of us have toddler and early-elementary children that give us as much sass and eye-rolling as our teenage kids. (But that’s for another conversation.)
Teenagers don’t always get the best reputation, and there are obvious reasons why. However, there are some amazing blessings that come with parenting these “wanna be” adults. They are able to think, and reason, and laugh, and give, and love and dream…and sometimes they actually get their dirty clothes in the hamper and wet towels off the floor.
There have been some great experiences I’ve had with my daughter as she’s entered these teenage waters. And as you can imagine, there have been some conversations that I never imagined having with my daughter.
And in case you have a teenager too, or will soon, I wanted to give you a heads up about some conversations you might be having soon.
Conversation 1: Social Media
I’ll get right to the point with this first conversation: Don’t take pictures of your body or body parts. And certainly don’t send them in a text or post them on social media! Seriously, what mother standing over her precious newborn baby ever expects that in thirteen short years her child might be tempted to do this?! But it's happening. And in a world where technology is making its way into the hands of our children earlier and earlier (thank you, iPad, for entertaining my children while we're waiting at the dentist office!) we need to have this conversation with our people.
Conversation 2: Social Media, again
The next conversation sounded something like: Don’t write or post or comment words that you don’t want being read, or misunderstood, or re-“quoted.” Just because it’s typed onto a screen doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Or that it’s temporary. The internet, social media, and texting apps are forever. They have an eternal memory. Just because you delete something, or it magically disappears within seconds, or you've found a way to hide it from us (your loving, sacrificing parents who only want God’s best for you!--I'm taking a deep breath here...), that does not mean it’s gone. It can be found. There's grace and do-overs and forgiveness and second chances…but you’ve entered the Big Leagues now. The stakes are higher in teenage land and the consequences may be greater than saying you’re “sorry” and walking laps at recess.
Conversation 3: Dreams for the Future
The final conversation will probably surprise you. It surprised me. This is the conversation where my daughter began to share HER dreams for the future with me. Isn’t that amazing?! I mean, I’ve always had dreams for her and seen the potential that God’s placed in her, but now SHE'S telling me what she’s dreaming with God!! How she loves orphans and refugees, competitive swimming, and marine animals, that she wants to adopt children when she’s older and make a difference in her world. And she’s beginning to ask God what the future could look like--if or how He can use all or any of those passions together. (Oh, and did I mention shopping? She loves shopping, too.) And my heart wants to explode with joy as she (on the good days) recognizes that God loves her and has a good plan for her life.
And that is the truth about conversations with teenagers: one minute you're talking about building orphanages in Africa and the next you're reminding them not to text pictures of their body parts. Oh the polarity and complexity of these teens. They will send us to our knees. Often. They demand that we talk about and discuss and parent and discipline even when we’d just rather play Legos or Candy Land with them. But there is such blessing in watching them grow, and dream, and mature and believe that they are God’s child with a purpose.
At least that’s my story right now. Like I said, I’m just at the beginning with lots more to learn! Comment below--what are some conversations with your teen that you've been surprised by?