Beginning the Teen years is one of the many milestones in the life of a parent. In our family, “13” is an especially big birthday for our boys. We have given gifts that encourage them to grow to ‘be a man.’
Assert some independence, take some risks, try out your talent, lean in to your creative side, and enjoy an area of life that has not ever been open to you before.
For our firstborn son’s birthday, his dad bought him a dirt bike! Talk about feeling like ‘big stuff!!’ I’m not sure who was more excited, Jonah, or his dad! However, I know there is a feeling of power when you get on a motorcycle!
Today my youngest son turned 13. The last of our three children to cross over into teen territory! Ben received his own drum set today. Yes, this will cause family quarrels, I know; but we are counting on the benefits outweighing the costs of this one! Ben is entering this wacky stage of life which I knowingly call ’the funk.’
This so-called ‘funk’ can be all-pervasive. ’The funk’ can affect how they sleep, how they eat, how they talk, if they shower, and if they do homework or choose to blow it off. Throughout the teen years, ‘the funk’ comes and goes.
Even if our teens are in a peaceful place in life; content in family relationships and solid in dependence upon God for every good thing in life, they still may or may not be hit with ‘the funk.’
So lets say I’m new to this. What does it look like to have a 13 year old boy? Fortunately, I don’t have the opportunity to hang out for hours and hours every day with a bunch of junior-highers, but trust me, as any mom of a teenager knows, ‘the funk can show up when you least expect it.” And the attitude can also turn on a dime.
In parenting our teenagers, we need to determine 3 things. Are they in a funk? From my experience, I’ve decided it’s best to give them space when they are just feeling funky. Any number of things could be bugging them, but they don’t want us bugging them as well! We need to be prayerful about when to ask questions, when to encourage, and when to stand back and wait.
Sometimes we also need to ask, ‘are we ourselves in a funk?’ Do we have some kind of emotional ‘thing,’ going on, that hinders our abilities to parent our teenager? Again, we need to rely on our relationship with God, and ask Him to reveal to us what is going on in our own heart, so that we can work on our stuff in order to be relationally available for our children.
How do we know if we are in a “parent” funk?
We know how we are doing as parents when we do this quick check:
Do we want to spend time with our kids?
Do we want to include them in the tasks of our day-to-day?
Are we feeling angry or bitter towards them?
Are we enjoying them?
This quick check can help reveal if we are in a ‘parent funk.’
*more on teen funk next week!