A few months ago at church, two friends asked me how it was going with my daughter, and I didn’t know how to respond. They both had teenage daughters, too, and they both seemed to be having problems.
My response was probably not what they expected to hear—because I told them what made my life more difficult was my 9-year-old son, not my teenage daughter.
My teenager is just an average teenager, with average teenage hormones and average teenage problems. She is not the special child everyone might think she is. To me she is just your ordinary adolescent.
What I have learned as a parent these past 13 years is that I had to change to be a parent of a teenager.
1. I learned to listen.
No matter what she is talking about, her friends, school, boys, or the media—just listen. You can add a few comments here or there, but the most important skill to use here is your listening skills. You really have to pay attention to what she is saying because she will ask questions.
2. I learned to be patient.
These teenagers may seem all grown up, however, they still lack the maturity and skills that would make them actual grown-ups. They are clumsy and forgetful, and sometimes they even seem brainless. They leave messes behind them, lose their phones, break things, and occasionally even hurt themselves. You have to be prepared and ready to act as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened.
3. I learned to love unconditionally.
Teenagers are big as adults but they still need to be babied and taken care of. Deep inside, they need the security and unconditional love of their parents. They need to feel that even when their friends leave them, they flunk tests, their faces break out, and PMS is debilitating, they still have one person who will be there cheering them on and waiting to kiss their boo-boos away.
I can tell you for sure that my love keeps growing for my teenager. She’s grown into a person I could be best friends with. She makes me dread the day when I will have to let her go completely. But at the same time, she makes me look forward to seeing her grow up into an adult.
Teenagers are here with you now—but they will not be here forever, so treat them right and watch them develop into beautiful butterflies.
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