I have a cousin whose wife birthed four boys in four years. Her boys range in age from toddlers down to a baby. To say her life is busy would be an understatement of epic proportions.
At a recent family function my cousin’s wife and I swapped stories from the trenches as mothers of four boys. After discussing diapers and tantrums, she commented, “I keep thinking about the ages of your sons. It must be so much easier at your boys’ ages.”
I choked on my drink as I pondered whether my cousin’s wife ever met a teenager.
While my boys have entered a very fun age where conversations center on more adult topics and their independence is welcomed, older children bring their own unique set of challenges.
Currently, one teen son fights authority and voices his disdain in the teenage version of a toddler’s “no.”
The struggle is real.
Like real, real.
When he’s arguing the merits of my decision and opinions, I’m tempted to throw my own version of a toddler tantrum. I want to raise my voice, toss back hurtful words, or yell effective threats. Somedays it takes willpower to firmly bite my tongue and step away.
On one particular day when my teen was feeling feisty, I prayed about my response. The verse “Fathers do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 NIV)
I let this verse soak into my heart.
I’m quick to think my teenager is the problem. But, what role am I playing in the breakdown of communication? In an attempt to have my teen comply, am I exasperating his spirit?
I asked God for forgiveness for my missteps as a parent. Then, I asked my teen for forgiveness too.
I’d love to report a quick turn around in my teen’s behavior and our communication.
That didn’t happen.
But within the hour, we both spoke with a greater level of kindness and respect towards one another. My heart had more compassion for a son who is learning to walk into manhood.
I’m grateful that God placed this verse in my mind. Since that time, I’ve been mindful that my goal is to train, not enrage. I’m learning to speak in a better way.