Thursday, March 25, 2010

I Glory in Teenagers!

Those teenagers.  Those rebellious, argumentative teens.  It's like aliens have taken over their bodies.  Our children used to worship us.  They used to listen to everything we said.  They used to think we knew it all.  They used to want to be just like us.  Now they fight.  They argue.  They question.  They challenge.  Isn't it horrible?

No.  I don't think it is.  I think it's wonderful.  I think it's a beautiful age of discovery.  Finding out who they are for themselves, that they don't have to be the person everyone else tells them to be.  Learning to think for themselves.  And, yes, challenging everything!

For the life of me, I don't understand why everyone has such a stereotype in their heads about teens.  Why is everything they do that you don't agree with labeled rebellious?  Do you understand that is an opinion and not a fact?  As soon as you change your perception and see a desire to learn and grow and become instead of fighting your every wish, it is no longer rebellion.  It's defining themselves.  It's growing up.

I believe we get so frustrated because we sense that we are losing control.  We are no longer in charge of what they do or who they choose as friends or what they wear.  They don't want to follow our rules anymore; they want to make their own rules.

But I have news for you.  It's not our job to control them -- it's theirs!  I believe it is our job to support, guide, teach, protect . . . but not to control. 

We spend so much time teaching them to be polite.  To do what they're told.  To not ruffle feathers.  And then we expect that at eighteen they will magically be able to go out into the world and be independent adults.  We've tried to micromanage every decision for them, and now they're on their own.  Good luck, son!

Eighteen is an arbitrary number for adulthood.  The legal age in this country for various things has changed over the years.  The age to smoke.  The age to drink.  The age to be legally accountable.  The age to have sex.  These all change depending on society's current view.  Is this because one generation of children is more (or less) mature than the others?  No.  It's because adults have decided they got it wrong before and they are trying to fix it.

Do we really think that just because they are young and inexperienced, they have no good ideas?  That they can't discover new truths?

In my faith, we believe that Joseph Smith (a fourteen-year old boy) restored Christ's gospel to the earth.  That he resisted the growing push to join religion.  That he questioned.  And that he received new truth.  A truth his parents and grandparents didn't have.

It's a good thing his parents didn't write him off as a rebellious teenager.

I think there's too much polite in our world.  I think there's too much "go along to get along" attitude.  I think there's not enough challenging of the current system.

As if the adults are doing such a great job running things.

Our teenagers argue with us.  They challenge what we say.  And they question everything.  And that's exactly what they are supposed to do.  That is how they define who they want to be.  And if we can just ease up a bit and look for the glory in teens, we might find that we like them.  A lot.  I know I do.


Kazzy said...

I like your reference to JS. I remember looking at my boys at 14 and telling them what Joseph did at that age. Humbling.

One of the elements in all of this is the relationship established earlier between the teen and parents. The teen that learns to start self-advocating and taking initiative can seem threatening to a parent if there lots of things amiss already. But I agree with you, that it is fun to start seeing them separate themselves from us. They need encouragement and experience. And we need to learn to enjoy them for their own ideas.

Thanks. I love my kids. :)

K and D Roylance said...

While the process of you describe is necessary and important, for our youth to grow and learn, I sometimes hurt for the child going through it. Your Jessie's blog on "College Stress? Never", being a prime example. (she is still technically at teenager isn't she?) Still we are told over and over that the youth are our future leaders....your post reminds me that that is a hopeful and encouraging thought.

Dona said...

I agree with 18 being an arbitrary number. It isn't backed up scripturally either. Some teenagers are ready to leave home before age 18 and some aren't.

I was SO freaked out about my children becoming teens but I have really enjoyed it. I enjoyed your observations and found myself nodding in agreement.

Margy said...

I need to hang onto this to read and re-read in the next few years. Just last night my 10-year-old Jack defiantly referred to himself as "a pre-teen, Mom! Not a kid!"

Luann said...

Having a teen freaks me out, not because I'm afraid of the teen years, but because I used to think parents of teens were kinda old, and now I am one of them.

My kids have always been pretty fiery and opinionated, so having my two oldest moving to adolescence it's really that much of a shock for me. Maybe the future holds some unexpected (and perhaps unwelcome) surprises, but so far I'm having a blast watching them grow into who they want to be.

Luann said...

...meant to say isn't a shock, not "it's"...