My Teenager Thinks I’m Perfect
Changing Our Teens Idea of Who We Are
Do you remember being a teenager? You felt like you were an adult. You thought that you already knew everything that there was to know. But, when a problem arose, nobody could understand you. You felt all alone. If you needed to talk to anyone, you usually went to your friends. The problem is the advice that your friends gave you, probably wasn’t the best advice. We should have gone to our parents more. Now the roles are reversed, I have a teenager and I want her to come and talk with me (her parent). She thinks though, that I do not struggle with anything. Because of this, she thinks that if she makes a mistake, I will condemn her. That is not my job. It is God’s job to judge. So I went about thinking, how can I change her view of me, so that we can talk more?
I was a teenager that got herself into a lot of trouble. The last thing that I ever wanted to do was talk to my parents. My dad was really strict. He did the best that he knew how, but he didn’t know a single thing about me. Our connection was through sports. My mom was so laid back, that everything went. So I could have talked with her, but I was scared too. I don’t know why. I knew what I was doing was wrong. I didn’t want anyone to know who I really was. Afraid of what they would think of me.
Looking back at my teenage years, I become scared for my daughter. I never want her to do the things that I did when I was younger. Being so scared holds me back though. I need to parent from my heart, without the fear. Parent the way that God wants me to. So I sat down with her and shared my past. It was hard. What if she thinks that I am a bad person? What if she looks at me like a monster? What if she doesn’t love me anymore? And the what ifs, just went on and on and on. But I would do anything to help my teenage daughter. She means the world to me. So we began…..
My Life as A Teenager
I told her about how I had an abortion when I was 13. That I had killed an innocent child to save my own life. That I would someday meet that child, which is a little boy with blonde curly hair and blue eyes, in heaven. That I would have to answer to God for murder. I have done drugs before. I have drank and drove home once. I was so scared the next day after driving home, because I do not remember even how I got home. I have been in a marriage where someone emotionally, physically and mentally abused me. I could have dealt with the situation better, but, I decided to retaliate. I hit him numerous times. I would yell all the time and say mean things. I eventually knocked that person out cold with a frying pan. I was in a marriage that I should have never stayed in. A marriage where my now teenage daughter saw a lot of bad things. She watched people be arrested. She saw people drinking and becoming drunk around her. She would wake up to people passed out at our house with beer cans everywhere. She saw yelling and physical abuse. She saw so much that I cannot believe that I allowed for all of that to happen her.
The problem with all of this, is the baggage that I carry around. I try to pretend that I have it all together. I read my Bible everyday. I pray all the time. I try to show my kids that I rely on God when things get hard. I do not show my kids the pain that I still endure from the past. The anger that can rise up easily if I am not careful. The want to yell and get mad and punish them. They do not see me cry hysterically when I feel so broken. When I feel like I am a failure. When my insecurity kicks me in the teeth and I fall down. Then sometimes when I’m down, I do not want to get back up again, but I have kids that are counting on me. When I get scared, I want to run away. They do not see the demons that plague me and if I do not turn to God, they promise to overtake me. The want to drink and get drunk because then the pain will go away. Or the want to just run away for a weekend to just hide. To find relief from all of this.
“As a parent you will feel a range of emotions which are all normal and yet can feel like a roller coaster ride. It is important to remember you’re not expected to be perfect. Everyone has their own ideas about parenting and sometimes it’s easy to become confused or to feel not good enough.”My favorite part is knowing that I am doing the best that I can. I stop and take time to ask myself “what could I do to make our relationship better?” You see, I can’t control what my daughter does, I would like to think that I can, but that is not practical. I also stop and pray a lot. What I cannot do, God will fill in the rest. Parenting is different for everyone. Parenting is the hardest thing that you will ever do. Parenting is the most rewarding thing that you will ever do. As long as we never give-up, then we are being a good parent.
Take the way that you feel and remember what it is like to be a teenager. “Our brains take a lot longer to fully form than was previously thought. In teens, the frontal lobe (where our decision making happens) is not as connected to the rest of the brain as it is later in life. This means teens literally cannot come to a decision as fast as an adult.” This is scientific proof that teenagers need help with making decisions. That is why having a really strong bond with your teenager is so important. They need us now more than ever. It doesn’t mean that we smoother them, but we have to take the time to be there for them, everyday. They need to know that you respect them and take the time to really listen to them. Even if you do not agree with what they are saying or doing, just take the time to let them vent. Then, take the time to respectfully disagree with something in their life. “That means that if you are expressing an emotion—say, disappointment—a teen’s brain has a 50% chance of misinterpreting it as a different emotion, like anger. Then, since the emotional part of their brain is already active from making that (incorrect) judgment, they become more likely to react irrationally and over the top.” So when your child becomes upset, grumpy or throws an attitude your way and you have know reason why, they may have misread what you just said or did.
I hope that in my trials you find hope. When life feels so overwhelming from being a parent, it is hard to know where to turn to or what to do next. I know that praying is what keeps me sane and talking to someone that I trust. Sometimes I just need someone to listen to me. May God grant you the grace, mercy and understanding to be the parent that your teenager needs. May you turn to God when you are at a loss of how to help your teenager. May you have peace in knowing that you are human, you will make mistakes as a parent, but, that God will be right there to be all the parent that you cannot be. And, may you also know that all parents struggle, all parents have regrets for how they raised their kids, but that most parents did the best that they knew how. What can you take from all of this to make your relationship with your teenager better?