CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE CAUGHT IN A FLOOD? THE WATER RUSHING PAST YOU, ALMOST DROWNING AND BRUSHING PAST A HOUSE OR A BRANCH, UNABLE TO CONTROL THE DIRECTION YOU ARE HEADED IN, UNABLE TO CONTROL YOUR LIFE OR IF YOU WILL LIVE.
It just occurred to me that some teenagers who have been indulged financially their entire lives begin to believe that they are entitled to whatever they wish, even if those desires will have extremely negative outcomes. Because these certain youths feel they have these rights they often experience frustration because they are desperately seeking who they are and what they want to do, while having their parents telling them that they must study, get good marks, go to college, get a career. Youth is fighting to determine in what directions they want to go. They know they want to be independent, but circumstances are forcing them into a groove of which they have no knowledge of the benefits. Instead it becomes a dark hole to rage against the parents and sometimes the world because it is NOT THE DIRECTION THEY HAVE DECIDED UPON. It is the direction that they feel they have been plunged into. A raging torrent of emotional waters that they resist with all their might much to the amazement of their parents. Parents know the dangers of life, but mature concerns are viewed by these youngsters as a flood to be resisted, not welcomed.
Just as a flood brings unleashed emotions of fear, anger, and loss, teen years can create fear of not being accepted, anger that ones choices are ignored or even considered and a loss of identity that hasn’t even formed.
Paradoxically, making life so easy for a maturing child is eliminating the challenges and choices that make him or her mature. Skipping the pain that adults have endured also skips the empowerment that made us successful.
We would not expect that we could create an Olympic champion by doing all the exercises and then giving the medal to the child as if your efforts made greatness for him or her. Each of us must grant our own direction, then persevere until we gain it. Adults can only model that behavior and allow it to be followed by choice, not coercion.
Now think about your teenager’s rage. Does it make sense to you? We fought for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Part of what makes us happy is the very struggle for the pursuit of happiness.
Parents: Don’t take away the very values that this country is founded on, let the youngsters decide what they want to do. I hear too many parents say: I want my child to go to college. I hear the youngsters say: I haven’t decided that yet. Parents dangle money and discipline at the teen. The carrot and the stick. Instead let the youth know what the realities of the world are and let them decide who they are and how they are going to attain the goals which they have determined.
What parents need to do is: 1. Guide, 2. Point out the consequences of actions and keep it in the world of reality. Do not try to soften what will and can really happen. 3. Let them experience the consequences without help or interference. There are exceptions to these general guide lines. The exceptions are what cause adults to go a bit crazy. An adult has to determine when it is appropriate to help or when the help is enabling the child to continue the disastrous path s/he has found him herself in. I say to my clients that I prayed a lot when my children were teenagers. I allowed them to struggle to find their own path. They all made me proud and have wonderful homes and great children.
If you as a parent need guidance to give the best guidance to your children, go to a counselor.