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  • Parenthood

    For Teenagers–A Future Conversation with the Parent You Love to Hate

    February 9, 2015


    I called my dad this morning to recommend a great movie I watched last night, The Music Never Stopped (currently on Netflix). That’s one of the many things my dad and I have in common–movies. We didn’t have TV growing up, but family time often revolved around watching and discussing meaningful movies. I told him the overarching theme of this indie film based on a true story is how to mend or maintain a relationship that involves a clash of worldviews and a wide generational gap.

    As we discussed the film and how it makes me want to be a better mom to my teens, I suddenly heard my Dad, who is one of my best friends, saying this: “I sometimes think I probably should have given you more freedom to learn from your mistakes when you were growing up.” 

    “Are you kidding me?” I said. “I’m so glad you didn’t! I wouldn’t have the life I have now if you’d done that.” 

    I meant it. I look back and think of all the time wasted on crushes and chasing guys that I knew were not right for me. It was my mean old Dad that spared me from ruining my life by getting too involved with them. It was his short leash and tight reins that kept me “locked up” at home when my friends were out way too late at night.

    “Oh, I hated you for it, Dad!” I laughed over the phone. “But you saved my life. You gave me the amazing life I have now by making me so ‘miserable’ back then.”

    “Hmm,” he answered, thoughtfully. “Thanks.”

    I realized in that moment I’d never truly thanked my Dad for being a pain in my teenage neck all those years. 

    But there’s another thing  I don’t think I’ve thanked him enough for: the relationship. They say you can’t be friends with your teenager; you have to be the parent instead. I disagree. Without Dad’s friendship–his willingness to sit with me as I fumed at him and ask, “How can I do better?”–I would have no doubt suffocated by his endless list of rules. It was Josh McDowell who famously said, “Rules without relationship equals rebellion.” 

    So Dad, thanks for being a parent, and thanks for being a friend. I only hope I can be half the parent to my teens that you were to me. Because someday when my girls watch a great movie or read a great book, I want to be the one they call on a Monday morning to tell about it.

     

    Note: Dad’s strictest rules revolved around dating. Okay, and modesty. And nutrition. And media intake. Otherwise, I still can’t get over the freedom both Mom and Dad let us kids have in other areas! (Shameless plug ahead for parents) For more about my “sheltered childhood”, check out my book, Who Are All These Children and Why Are They Calling Me Mom?

    And one more thing for parents reading this who feel it’s too late. Maybe you were too much a friend or else too much a “parent.” Maybe you’re reaping the fruit of imbalance. I want to give you hope; that is the message of the movie I mentioned. I believe that as long as a person is breathing, it is not too late for healing to take place in a relationship, especially when an appeal for divine intervention is made (read my book!). 😉

     

    Image Credit: http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m3k4w1Hb0s1r1pcdno1_500.jpg

     

    2 thoughts on “For Teenagers–A Future Conversation with the Parent You Love to Hate

    1. AMEN, Sister.

      I’ll preface this by saying, I love my parents. I lost Dad when I was two weeks away from turning 18. The one regret I have was that they weren’t stricter. I was a rotten kid. A wild child. And, Dad did make an effort to know where I was most of the time.

      But I live with PTSD. Not because they gave me too much freedom, but because they were so overwhelmed with the circumstances at the time, dealing with my adult siblings and their drama, to lay down the boundaries I needed so badly. I ran WAY off the rails, and it wasn’t until my Dad’s final months that he even knew. Mom still doesn’t know. (And it’s better that way. Sometimes, the past needs to just stay where it is.)

      Shelter your kids, dear friend. You’re an amazing Mom. I’m glad to have been exposed to your light. <3

      1. Faith says:

        Oh, wow, thank you for the comment, Mary! You’re not the first person I’ve heard say they wish they’d had more boundaries growing up. It’s good to hear this perspective. Thank God for redemption though, huh? None of us are ever without hope.

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