Algebra. I thought I was done with any math, except what must be used in everyday life. I certainly thought, “I will never have to teach this.” I almost made it. I am a year and a few months away from retiring as a teacher. English teacher that is. My husband is a pastor so that has us moving occasionally. Due to a recent move, I found myself again in search of a job. A principal contacted me about a job at his school totally unexpected! How nice. But…God SO has a sense of humor. I am teaching some reading classes and an algebra class. Both are for students who need help, but what about me? Who are we kidding? I am a support teacher in need of math support.
I made it through Algebra I,II and College Algebra. I am now old. Ancient. With old brain. I am currently watching a video on graphing linear equalities. Really? The struggle is real. Really, really, real.
It is intimidating because I don’t know what I am doing. I am a teacher, and a good teacher can teach anything. I must keep the end goal in mind. I must be consistently working at this without worrying about it. After all, a students’ grade and learning doesn’t solely depend on me. Giving up is never an option.
Parenting a teen? Does this strategy sound like what you are trying with your teen? You are intimidated because you don’t know what you are doing. You can do anything, and you are a good parent. You got this. Consistency is key, and worrying over it does no good. It’s not all up to you. Giving up, well, not today.
If your teen were a sweet angel who always made good choices, this would be easy right? Of course, those don’t exist. If you or your teen didn’t mess it up sometimes, I would have to wonder, are you breathing?
What do you do though if your teen is making some bad choices in friends? We all know that who they hang around with, they become, so this is crucial. What about starting a relationship with a boy or a girl that is clearly not a believer or doesn’t come close to the same values as your family holds? How do you handle this?
First of all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound, no, a truck load of cure. Long before your child begins this relationship or hits those years, talk about what you and hopefully your son or daughter wants in their mate for life. Granted, your child may be very young, and this is not on their radar, but he or she should never get involved with someone in a close friendship or otherwise that doesn’t share your family’s value. At an early age, talk about expectations and why these are expectations. It is amazing how many students will tell me that they have a distance or non existent relationship with their parents. This relationship makes all the difference in the world. As that parent who does have a relationship with your children, talk to them about everything. They crave this: trust me. If you but say it, your child is encouraged.
Next, show your children healthy relationships in your marriage and in your friendships. Show them the value of friends and a spouse who shares your Christian beliefs. My daughters loved being around my friends because they knew that they were like second mamas, praying for them and encouraging their faith when they could. How many times in society have we seen children just repeat the patterns of destructive relationships that they saw their parents involved in? Many times our teens migrate to bad relationships because they have seen a parent in a harmful situation with a spouse or boyfriend, and this is what the teen knows. Show them the difference! If this requires that you work on your marriage or develop new relationships, then do. It will make all the difference. A teen will learn from this and see how to handle it the right way.
Also, direct those relationships early. If parents are involved in church, bible study, small groups, then your kids and teens are also. Have them involved in the children’s programs and youth programs. When they begin to notice the opposite sex, chances are much better that they will begin a relationship with someone who attends youth functions with them.
As they reach those middle school years, guide the friend groups. Again, intentionally have them in youth activities. Parent! Every time your son or daughter is asking to go to a friend’s house, check out the family. “No”, is an ok answer. This is hard. I know the child who is asking why not, and the conversation that follows. Hardly ever does your son or daughter take this well, saying things like “Thank you, mom or dad, for protecting me from situations that I don’t need to get into.” Our adult daughters now understand and see why we did what we did, but they didn’t then. I distinctly remember being asked if a friend of my daughter’s could come over, and my response was no. She had hurt my daughter, treated her terribly and now she wanted to be a friend again. This was a pattern that was happening over and over again. I knew that she was a child, so children act like children, but I was and am mama. The answer was no. Even at that age, my daughter quickly later saw why. Our teens need protection. We parents must have backbone enough to use wisdom and guide those friend choices.
What if your teen son or daughter enters into a relationship with someone that is not a Christian and is a bad influence? Don’t give up. Keep those lines of communication open. Insert wisdom and sometimes back off. That’s an EXTREMELY hard thing to do. Believe me, I KNOW. No, repeat, amount of pushing on a parents’ part will make that relationship end. It might even make your son or daughter go deeper into the relationship to make a statement against a parent. Be ready to give the firm No’s when you can with hopefully a spouse that is helping. Try to explain in love the why’s. Expect a teen to get angry. Talk with your spouse, partner in this, and be ok with a teen who thinks you are an agent of Satan. Continue to live life showing him and her right relationships and having him or her in church where others are, quite frankly, on your side. Ask God to put Christians in their path that will speak truth and wisdom and have your child at every youth event, church service, and bible study possible to have as many possible opportunities to hear it. I cannot tell you how many times I have talked with teens about relationships of all sorts and spoke God’s truth whether they wanted to hear that or not. So many times, believe it or not, they were asking and listening. Something about it coming from someone besides mama or daddy… It truly takes a village.
Finally, pray. Pray some more. Tell your son or daughter that you are praying for them all the time about everything. Pray for that friend or boyfriend or girlfriend. If he or she is not a believer, then you know how to pray. It is ok to pray that person away from your teen. It is all in the Will of a mighty God, but praying people away from your children is totally fine. I have seen relationships suddenly end. I have seen that boyfriend or girlfriend suddenly move.
My daughter and her husband live in the mountains in Eastern Kentucky. A neighbor has now filled his yard with chickens in cages, and the handwriting is on the wall as to what that’s about. Contacting a local authority in that area will get you nowhere-already considered that and asked a law enforcement person for advice. My issue with it is the fact that my granddaughter lives just feet away from animals being made to suffer and die, and randomly getting out and wandering into her yard. They are chickens, so they will be basically harmless, but imagine her horror one day when she realizes what’s happening.
I started praying that God will get rid of this. This past weekend when I visited, I noticed a few less animals. I didn’t tell my daughter that I had been praying away this situation. When I asked her about the situation, she said, “I don’t know what happened, but there are a lot less chickens than there were.” They may multiply greatly soon, but you get my point. Many times I prayed away boys that my girls didn’t need, not in a “I hate you and hope bad things happen to you” way, but with a parent “God-protect-my daughter-and-make-him-go-away” type prayer. Amazing how many times those boys did.
Pray for your children’s and teen’s relationships. Pray a lot. I remember kneeling beside my oldest daughter’s bed while she was gone and crying and asking God to remove a hurtful friend from her life. In His time, He did. She learned some hard lessons, and that was God’s plan. As a parent, when our children and teens mess it up, we have to love them as God loves us. We must take a step back. We may want to shout, “I TOLD YOU SO,” but that will destroy our chances of being able to speak future truth.
Remember, it is a journey. There are good days and bad days as a parent. Remember where I started: Algebra.
You and I commit to the following:
- remember that we are good parents (and teachers)
- be consistent
- it is intimidating because it is unknown territory, but the Spirit of the Living God in me makes all the difference. I must pray, listen and trust
- keep the end goal in mind: God is working a plan in my child’s life. Therefore, what’s going on is part of His plan.
- surround them with Christians
- remember that it doesn’t depend on me, and that our children are responsible for their choices: I am not.
- never give up
Now, back to praying away some chickens. I may call my friend is a District Manager for KFC…