I read something the other day I instantly pushed back against. I understood the statement, because that’s what the world says and automatically thinks, but I don’t necessarily agree. The article said,” It’s a given … teenagers will be controversial. So if you have a preteen, get ready. It’s just to be expected.”

Now that should be encouraging to every parent of a 10-year-old. It’s just like saying to parents of newborns, “Enjoy things now because the terrible twos are just around the corner.”

I guess there is some validity in putting teenagers and two-year-olds in the same category. They’re both facing phases of tremendous change and, honestly, who’s more confused, the kids or the parents?

Similar to the horror stories women feel compelled to share with someone who is pregnant, parents who are on the other side of parenting teens feel the need to be a beacon of warning, like it’s their calling, in a spiritual kind of a way. The saddest thing is for some reason, just because they live to tell about it, people will listen because they are confused and down right scared. The reason they are scared is because they listen to the horror stories. And on the cycle goes.

The truth is this; whatever you expect, you will most likely get. Clearly there are the situations parents are absolutely blindsided by random behavior, but by and large kids will behave to your expectations. If you expect controversy, there probably will be. It’s like the Cesar Milan theory: Use calm assertiveness with all dogs, even pit bulls. You are the leader and if you act like the leader, they will follow. If you show them respect, they will return the favor.

No way around it, raising kids you have to bring your A game every day. It does take a lot of time, energy, and creativity, but it doesn’t have to look like something from a bad movie. Parents tend to stop at Ephesians 6:1: “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right”. The secret is found reading on to verse 4 “Fathers (mothers too) do not exasperate your children…” Somewhere in the middle is the sweet spot of balance.

Teenagers and two-year-olds … challenging, yes, automatically controversial, not necessarily.

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