Parenting Tweens. Help for the frazzled parent.
There are so many times and (days) when we really wonder, “What were we thinking when we decided to be a parent?”
In his book Parenting isn’t for Cowards, Dr. James Dodson writes about how we need to look at parenting like a river float trip. Sometimes you are in the calm, clear water, sometimes it is a little muddy, and then there are the times you are in stage 4 rapids holding on for your life. He goes on to say that the good news is the rapids don’t last forever. That being said, we do still get frazzled. It seems more evident when kids reach the Tween stage.
Sometimes we just need to listen.
I heard a cute story, actually a joke the other day. It went like this; An elderly man was walking by a pond when he heard a voice say, “hey down here”. Looking around he saw a frog sitting on a rock. The frog called out to him saying,”If you kiss me I will turn into a beautiful princess.” Think that the man did not hear him, he said it again, “If you kiss me I will turn into a beautiful princess.” Still, no reply from the man. Getting frustrated the frog yelled with all his power, “IF YOU KISS ME, I WILL TURN INTO A BEAUTIFUL PRINCESS.” This time the man reached down and picked the frog up and put him in his shirt pocket. Confused the frog asked, “are you not going to kiss me?” “Heck NO,” the man replied. “At my age I just want someone to talk to me!”
Isn’t that what our children want from us? To take the time to sit and talk? When was the last time you went for a walk or for a ride in the car just to hear what your child has to say? I used to take my tweens for a drive on a warm summer night up on a hill where we could overlook the city. It seemed to me in that dark quiet nighttime, we could discuss the wonders of the world without having to see each other’s expressions. Not that expressions are a bad thing. But this seemed to give the kiddo a sense of freedom. Freedom to say what they were feeling, what had happened in their life that week or maybe just ask questions that they were embarrassed to ask.
Sometimes there weren’t any questions, just small talk. That was OK. We would talk about the stupid dog or maybe what a goal for the summer would be. The point is, we talked.
Riding the rapids.
Bible scripture warns us in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” and in Colossians 4:21, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so they won’t become discouraged”.
This is one of the hardest rapids I had to face. When my children would be mouthy or just roll their eyes at me, I wanted to react. A lot of the time that is just what I did do. But what did that accomplish? NOTHING! Like the verse says it just discouraged them. Sometimes it even made them feel defeated. You could see it in their eyes. That is when I needed to sit down, apologize and ask them for forgiveness for my actions.
It took time and patience and I wish I could say I learned quickly but that was not the case. I would get so caught up in the rapids from my childhood that I would let the waves of anger flow over me until I spilled out of the raft.
Making word pictures.
Have you ever thought about your words being a picture? To say something that someone can visualize is a masterpiece. It helps the child to understand what you are trying to get across to them.
A word picture doesn’t have to be phony or elaborate. It just has to explain how you are feeling or how the child is seeing his or her situation.
Let’s say your child has not been doing his homework. He is getting failing grades. In the past he has never really had to study hard and now in middle school more is required of him. He is struggling and feels like all hope is lost. He does not see what is wrong as he never really has been in this predicament before.
Enter the word picture. You would tell the child; “Imagine you are on a boat. There are some clouds out in the distance but the sun is shining. You are relaxing getting a few rays. The gentle rocking of the boat makes you sleepy and you doze off. Suddenly you are awakened by the waves coming over the side. You are being tossed from side to side. You are scared not knowing if you can get back to shore. Finally, the motor starts. Driving through the wind and pouring rain you make it to shore. Exhausted but safe.”
Don’t Panic in the Storm
“I think this is how you feel about school. You have always been able to just float along, get good grades and the ride was pretty smooth. Now you are in new waters. The storm on the horizon is not studying. All of a sudden the waves of a test comes along and you panic. Wishing you would have done your homework, you try your best but you just don’t know the answers. That is where I come in. It is hard to stay on track when you are not used to the wind and rain. But together we will figure out a good plan for you to study and bring those grades up.”
One of the best books on this subject is by Dr. Gary Smalley. The 5 languages of Love. He breaks down how important these pictures are. He also tells how to learn the art of word pictures for not only to help your children but to communicate with your spouse and others.
Lastly, I want you to know that no matter what has happened, no matter how upset you are, your child needs to hear that they are loved. You only have the present to tell them. To give them a kiss goodnight is the one thing they need. They may not want it but tomorrow is a new day. The river will be easier to ride next time.
I would love to hear from you. Please send me an email with your comments or questions. Please like us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Until next time…
Check out this video from Dr. James Dodson Parenting Isn’t for Cowards