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Finding Their Doors, in Dark Rooms

If you're the parent of a teen, each new school year brings a realization of the inevitable; your teen is inching closer to becoming an adult. There may be some internal pressure and anxiety that time is short, and your teen hasn't learned "all" of life's lessons. There may be some regrets that dog your footsteps, and there may be a longing for a better relationship, with confusion about how to build a better relationship.

These were some thoughts I had as my child moved through the teen years. I distinctly remember the fear I felt when I first learned my daughter got on the highway by herself. She managed to survive that ride, and many more after that. That first drive down Highway 70, made me realize that she will learn many things on her own, and she would fair well without my help.

It's natural to want to hold on and not allow teens to move forward. After all one day they speak very maturely, and the next they seem to have no reasoning or forethought ability whatsoever. What we think is a no-brainer, common-sense decision, they may struggle with.

It's also natural to want to push them out of the nest. They seem to spend money while they are asleep. Their clothes often are more expensive than ours, but I think the thing that drives parents most to push teens to the next level, (living on their own) is their "unsolicited opinions" that they insist on sharing. Usually, their opinions are opposite of ours, and too often they insist on believing what we think is "wrong" and what they think of as right.

Another reason we want to shorten their stay at home is that we have plans for their lives: when our plans match theirs it's heavenly, however when plans don't match, it requires much patience and prayer on our part to determine what needs to be done. That is, do we insist that they do what we believe is in their best interest, or do we step back and allow their plans to play out?

Many parents wrestle with this decision, and it's one of the hardest decisions to make. It's like being in a dark room and feeling for the "right" door for somebody else to go through.

If you find yourself in this situation, what I found to be helpful was to have lots of "calm" discussions with the teen. Together make a list of pros and cons for doing each thing. Listen to your teen's reasoning, and openly share your reasoning about the situation. Take the teen's age into account. You would definitely give more leeway to an eighteen-year-old than you would give to a thirteen-year-old.

By yourself explore your motives for the disagreement. Are your motives fair? Are they based in fear, anxiety, or selfishness? Be honest with yourself, as you explore what's behind your resistance. Keep in mind, that your teen will have to live with the decisions that are made on their behalf, or with them.

Share your struggles with us, we welcome grandparents' comments as well.

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