I taught a class of 14 -15 year old young women today in church. The lesson was fascinating for me. I think I learned more as the teacher and a parent of teenagers than I taught them.
We began by discussing about their current stage in life. They are becoming more adult and taking greater responsibility for their actions. They may sometimes feel hampered by the restrictions of childhood. Other times they may feel insecure with the responsibilities of adulthood.
This can be a scary time for them but this is also a difficult transition for parents. Parents as well as youth are learning how to manage through these changes and sometimes they make mistakes. Young people need to be forgiving and remember that parents are always trying to do their best.
There was a roll play where a daughter asked her dad if she could do some work around the house to earn money for some new shoes. When her dad asked her why she couldn't just wear her sisters old ones, she got mad and stormed out of the room.
Of course my young women saw that the father was wrong for not helping his daughter earn some extra money. But they also pointed out that if the girl had been calm and explained her desire to have nice new shoes and she was willing to buy them with her own money that maybe her dad would have paid more attention.
How true it is. If one of my children is demanding and whiney about something I either tune them out or stop them. But... if they will patiently present their case in a grown up manner I always work with them.
It was also a good reminder to me that I need to treat my children with the respect I would give another adult. When I do this, they act more grown up, our conversations are more interesting and informative and our relationships grow in ways they never do when I hover, demand and control.
The young people in our homes have tender hearts and feelings. No one likes to be criticized and more than anyone else in the world they need to know that we believe they can accomplish anything. If they believe that we believe in them; they will believe it too.
Here are some quotes that I think really hit the mark:
1. Parents become used to teaching and giving specific instruction to their children. And it is sometimes difficult for them to remember how important some things are to their children. “Parents, remember when you were young; remember why you wanted to do some things you wanted to do; remember how eager you were for social acceptance, how sensitive you were to ill-timed criticism, and how easily your hearts could be hurt, and how some things, which now seem less important, once mattered very much. All this as parents we ask you to remember” (Richard L. Evans, 1968)
2. It is painful to a parent to be treated disrespectfully. “Parents … have hearts that can be hurt; … they, like you, are sensitive to ill-timed criticism and to misunderstanding of their motives. Remember that there is nothing, in righteousness, they would not do for you” (Richard L. Evans 1968
Beaner was in a different class than the one I taught, but she had the same lesson. She told me later that one of her friends said, "I wish my Mom was having this lesson today." The Bean responded, "Tee hee, my Mom is!"
I guess they could see that this was a good lesson for Mothers as well as youth!
Well, I know I'm going to work harder at being respectful and kind this week. How about you? Do you have some good ideas for helping young people learn respect and self reliance? I would love to hear your ideas!