(Find part one, here!)
The teen years are trying for most parents. But they don't need to be impossible! Here are two things I think are exceptionally important for parents to remember as their children move into teenage-hood:
1. Remember a gentle answer turns away wrath, as it says so well in Proverbs. I think that if we could see a ledger of how high emotions surged, we would definitely have more compassion. One child, who has always been a jewel of a child, had lots of tears as a teen--even over things as simple as "Please empty the dishwasher." This child was never overtly rebellious, but everything in her life was magnified; each event was exaggerated through her new emotions. Another, similarly easy going, also had more attitudes and frustration seemingly out of the blue. Two of mine went full fledged into more extreme emotions and occasional expressions of anger. Now, I feel so blessed to have seen all of the kids mature into wonderful adults and I feel so close to them. It just takes time to make it through this passage. You will need patience, kindness and a break once in a while.
If you find yourself in the stages of new hormones and feelings expressed through your children, now, for a moment, ask yourself the question, "When I am having a bout with hormones and anger or rage or emotions come upon me with no warning, how do I want others to behave towards me? I want them to treat me gently and to give me grace, understanding that it is not my real self. And so my teens want this from me! "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets" Matthew 7:12
2. Recognize that the most important desire of most teens is to be liked and desirable to kids their own age. This is not bad, it is normal. We want our children to want friends and to begin being attracted to the opposite sex! It means they are healthy and preparing for marriage. To react to them in fear and harshness is not godly--and it's certainly not wise. We may have fearful feelings, but our children don't want us to react to them in harshness and fear of what they might do. They are straining towards us learning to trust them and to understand them. Though they don't always talk about it, kids want to have someone safe like us to tell their deepest feelings to. If we have kept their relationship strong throughout elementary years, we will have a foundation to continue building on during the teen years.
During this phase, it is more important to hold their heart gently, with respect, rather than to choose treat them as small children and focus on their failures. Control is not the goal. There are bigger issues at hand---more temptation and pull toward the culture and other teens who may be unwise. So you want to be the one that your children can trust, who will not always react or criticize but one who seeks to listen and understand.
Ultimately, children of all ages want to be loved, listened to, understood as much as possible--just as we mamas do! May the Lord help us all to answer softly, and to be sensitive to our children's needs, even as those needs change over the years.