The Broken Parent/Teen Connection: Step 1

I am fired up.  You know the feeling I am talking about?  It kind of feels like someone lit your socks on fire and you have got to get to some water fast before it consumes the rest of you.  I was blessed Sunday to be surrounded (quite literally) by 8 middle school young ladies and what they shared with me has lit me up from the inside out.

I barely uttered the words, “My Book: Your Daughter Needs a Hero is a book to parents like yours to help them understand a little better about the insecurities you might have in your lives right now” and needless to say the flood gates opened!  It was like a middle school version of taxi cab confessions!  One girl shared how she was so made fun of in school about being a “goodie goodie” that she started making strides to make sure she wasn’t one anymore.  Another said she goes around her mother’s back in order to hang out with friends because every time she even speaks with her mom, they fight.  Another girl (my eyes well up just thinking of her) said she just moved here from out of town and in the loneliness she is feeling right now “she just doesn’t know what to do.”  When she tries to talk to her mom all she hears is “you will be fine.”  And mom is right, she will be fine, but she needs some serious TLC right now and she doesn’t know where to get it.    ALL of these young ladies, as if in unison, shared in one loud resounding voice “we don’t talk to our parents about anything anymore, we talk to our friends instead.”

Something is so incredibly broken here and I firmly believe that neither party is fully at fault.  The girls and I talked about it…they simply don’t know how to communicate effectively yet.  They are 11, 12, 13, 14 years old and simply have not acquired that skill.  Their hearts, feelings, and brains are complicated right now.  Their parents on the other hand simply feel at a loss.  In many cases the girls push their parents out in fear of being vulnerable, getting disciplined, or having a loss of trust or respect.  To them its doesn’t seem worth the risk and they treat their parents as adversaries instead of advocates.

This is a very difficult epidemic but I refuse to believe it is hopeless.  For example, one of the questions I posed to these girls was, “Do you ever just do something fun together…just you and your mom or dad?”  They looked at me as if I had ten heads.  SO I repeated the question as if rewording it might help, “Fun?  You know like movies, coffee, ice cream, mini golf, basket weaving, anything??  You know like doing something together with no strings attached or agenda???”  Still…deer in headlights.

Life is stressful, life is complicated, and life is BUSY.  The lives of adults spin constantly with responsibilities and challenges and, I don’t know about you, but the sentiment from the book of Ecclesiastes runs through my mind constantly “‘Meaningless!  Meaningless!’ says the Teacher.  Utterly meaningless!  Everything is meaningless.’  What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun” (1:1).  For young women the mind games sound more like “I don’t like the way I look.  I don’t like the shape of my body.  My friends don’t like me.  I feel so alone.  I feel so overtaken.”  As a result, we are living these parallel lives!  Barely touching unless it is in conflict or happen stance.

One girl saw the title “Your Daughter Needs a Hero” and with tears in her eyes said, “I wish my mom would read this.”  They want their parents!  They need their parents!  I needed my parents but I was rotten and mouthy to them every single day of my teen years…but my need and desire for them never waned once.

So for today, Step 1 (probably out of Step 2,029) in healing the Broken Parent/Teen Connection: Go do something fun together.

With no strings attached, no agenda, no plans for discussions…just go be together and laugh.  If you have a daughter make a date with her.  If you have a mom or dad go ask them to put it in their calendar.  If you know a young woman struggling with depression, hurt, insecurity…take her out.  Just you, just her.  It is not the end of the solution, but it sure is a start.

Today may you see God’s hope for you and your family peaking over the horizon.  May this prompting on your heart be a a glimmer of the light that wants to shine into your life and in the lives of the young women God so graciously has put in your life.

"Light is sweet,
and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.
However many years anyone may live,
let them enjoy them all."
Ecclesiastes 11:7-8

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