Do you love me? I am always wondering the answer to this question. My misbehavior, my disrespect, my rebellion is all about testing your love.
Will you set clear, fair boundaries for me? I know when I’ve done something wrong. I know when I’ve stepped over the line. Will you take the time to set boundaries and following through with them? Or will I wear you out to where you finally give up on me and quit teaching me and quit expecting my best from me?
Do you understand that I am just a kid? I may act like I know everything, but I really need you to be the grown-up. You are in charge. I am not. I not only understand that well, but need you to understand it too.
Do you know sometimes I just need some space? I can’t always talk to you when I’m upset. Please don’t punish me more. Talk to me later. Not when I’m angry. Give me space to process and calm down. At night, when I don’t have an audience or when I don’t have to make eye contact with you, reflect on my day with me–highlighting the positive choices I made as well as teaching me what I could do differently next time.
Will you just freaking lighten up? I don’t respond well to continuous punishment for every mistake I make. Absolutely teach me right from wrong and never accept immoral, inappropriate, or unsafe behavior from me, but take more time to teach. Give me more opportunities to try something again. And will you please just laugh with me sometimes?
Are we working with each other or against each other? Work as a team with me. Let me know you are on my side. Let’s problem-solve together. Please respect me and I will respect you.
Do you realize that I hear you? I really am listening and learning from you so please teach me well. Teach me about responsibility and hard-work. Show me what integrity and loyalty and compassion and service looks like. Guide me in being kind and loving to myself and to others.
Do you know I just want to be heard? I have very strong opinions and I will share them with you (remember that I don’t expect to always get my way though). Sometimes, all I need for you to do is listen. Don’t try to change the way I feel. Just listen to me and care about what I have to say.
Do you see me or just my grades? I need to know you love me first. Just me. ME! The kid who isn’t good at school. The kid who makes mistakes. The kid who messes up. The kid who is pretty great just the way he is. Please don’t just care about, ask about, and focus on my grades. I will happily get bad grades just to spite you.
Do you care about my life? I need to see how my actions affect me, not you. How does getting good grades impact my life in the future? Help me to see the ripple effect of my actions for my own benefit, not yours! I don’t want to get good grades for you or for a teacher or because that’s what’s socially acceptable. I need to know my grades help MY future and MY path in life.
Do you care about being with me? Sometimes I feel I’m just a bother to you. I may just stop asking you to be with me. So will you make the effort? Invest in me. Spend time with me. Talk to me. Care about my thoughts and feelings. Get to know me. Be silly with me. Play with me. Have fun with me. Take an interest in doing what I do and let’s do it together.
Do you recognize my strong-will is a gift from God? It’s not a flaw in me. It’s not a problem I have. It’s not something that makes me a “bad” kid or a “punk.” It’s a gift I need help using. Help me to use it wisely. Pray for me.
Do you see me as a “bad” kid? ‘Cause I’m not! I know I can be so frustrating. I’m well aware of the challenge I am to you. But I just want you to “get” me. I want you to see me. I want you to see the potential in me. I want you to see the good in me. I want you to notice the little ways that I’ve improved. Because, guess what: this “bad” kid– if prayed for, if guided, if encouraged, if well-disciplined, if not given up on–is going to be a world changer someday.
Christine Leeb--Speaker and Christian Family Coach specializing in Parenting and Child Discipline. Founder of Real Life Families--a non-profit organization building better families through free classes and resources. Mother to three awesome (and exhausting) children from whom she shamefully hides brownies. Wife to one patient (and polar-opposite) husband with whom she constantly quotes "Friends".www.RealLifeFamilies.org
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