One of my favorite movies is Mary Poppins. With all the sliding down banisters, jumping in chalk drawings, cleaning rooms with a snap of the fingers and tea parties on the ceiling, it is easy to entirely miss the point of the story. You see Mary Poppins isn’t really about Mary at all. It is about two parents who are so caught up in their own lives, they have almost forgotten they are raising two sweet, very lonely children. Sound familiar?
My heart breaks as I meet child after child desperate for some positive, meaningful interaction with an adult. Their parents are often delightful people and may even be faithful Christians. They are great parents by the world’s standards. Their children are well-dressed, clean, well-fed, educated and in a variety of societally approved activities. Yet, these wonderful parents are so busy with their careers, charity work, errands and even running the kids to various activities, that they barely know their precious little ones.
For many parents, the concept of asking your child for forgiveness just sounds wrong. Why would you apologize to your child? Wouldn’t that give your child the upper hand? Or did I really mean the sarcastic “I’m sorry you don’t like it, but that’s the way it is”, faux apology?
One of the biggest building blocks of the Christian faith is forgiveness. Remember the parable of the servants who owed debts? One owed an unbelievable amount of money to his “boss”. He couldn’t repay it and his master was ready to throw him in prison. After much begging, the master not only relented, but forgave the man’s entire debt. So what did the servant do? He turned right around and threatened someone who owed him a very small amount of money with jail. In spite of the guy’s pleas, the servant was unrelenting. When the master discovered what had happened, he was furious.
“Hormone” is a word that strikes fear in the hearts of many otherwise confident adults. We have all heard horror stories of how sweet, loving children suddenly turn into screaming, tearful tyrants who may just be capable of seriously harming themselves or others.
While that may be the case in some homes, I think there are things parents can do to lessen the negative effects of hormones on your tween’s behavior and your own sanity. I have used many of these ideas in my home and have seen them work for my friends and their now adult daughters when they were in the tween stage.
These tips for “tween whispering” (or “teen whispering”) are in no particular order, but hopefully you will find a few of them work for you too.
Most people look at me as if I am a little addled when they discover my major in college. In fact, they usually won’t continue the conversation until I have offered an explanation for my choice.
You see, I majored in education with a specialization in 4th through 8th grades. There are tons of people who love the cute little kids and even a lot who prefer the older teens and young adults. Rarely, do you find people who adore children in those tween and early teen years. I am one of those rare individuals.
Why do I love tweens? Because they are the best age to teach. They have already picked up most of the basics in life and are ready to start putting the pieces of the puzzle together. Even with the push to early adolescence in our culture, the tween is usually not finished polishing their veneer. They love to discover new things and you can see the light in their eyes when you show them how all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together in a really fun way. When I see a tween, I see a teaching opportunity that is probably only matched in very young children and college kids.
Has your child ever gone through a stage where they were obsessed with something? I remember my brother loved toy cars. He must have had a bizillion of them and race tracks covered most of our living area. He was probably about three, but I still remember my dad trying to convince him it wasn’t necessary to sleep with all of his cars. My brother insisted though, and there were nights when there was barely room in the bed for him!
I am sure there were times when my parents probably wanted to toss the entire lot of those cars in the trash. My dad encouraged him, though. He would race cars with my brother, help him shop for new models, and even found some kits for my brother and him to make their own model cars.