“I just don’t understand! My sweet son is so temperamental lately.”
“It’s like he’s a different kid.”
“I don’t understand the anger. What’s that about?”
“School used to be fun, but now it takes forever.”
“He acts so addled. Can’t remember what I tell him for one minute.”
We hear it all the time. We’ve said it ourselves. We usually ask how old their son is, but we already know what they’ll most likely answer – he’s 9 – 12 (or somewhere awfully close).
It was a huge surprise to us when our oldest hit that age. We’d been expecting some emotional trials when the boys got to be teenagers, but what was all this? No one told us the hormones start flowing long before the beard starts growing. Seriously. Who would have known?
Those years can be a dangerous time. Sometimes parent-child bonds are damaged or broken, only to be repaired years later. See, the enemy knows that those hormone-based emotions are confusing and tempts our children to doubt our love and concern for them. You probably remember those thoughts yourself: “They don’t understand. No one cares about me.” Then, their anger and sadness makes us parents feel hurt and like failures. Sometimes we lose our tempers, too. Everyone loses if we aren’t careful.
On the other hand, walking through this time prayerfully and with your “grown up” hat firmly in place (you don’t have to lose your temper because they do!), can give them security and renew your bond with them. It helps to prepare them (not when they’re angry already) for the emotional rollercoaster and to explain to them what’s happening. We need to be prepared, too, not to react in defensiveness and hurt when they’re upset. It’s a balance and it’s not easy, but it’s worth it!
The sad thing is that many parents are out of the loop when they’re most needed. I just looked through 42 pages of stock photos of “father and son.” Our pics are on a different machine, so I thought I’d just find a quick photo to post of a dad with his arm around his son, or hugging him, or by the end of the search, just standing with him. Forget it. The oldest child in any father and son pic on that site was about five. Sad. I know it’s hard, but that’s how to be a father – to be there when they need you even when they aren’t very lovable at all. Give them a manly hug when they shrug you away and one day they’ll hug you for real.
We’ll be talking about all that in our first session of Boot Camp 9-12: Getting Geared Up for the Teen Years tomorrow night. It’s our most popular class series and we love doing it. It’s fun to see the comments in our first online meeting because they’re the same everytime: “Wow! I thought it was me!” “Whew! I thought it was him!” No, it’s normal… and you can get through it… and even really enjoy those teen years to come!
Boot Camp 9-12 on Tuesday nights starting October 9th at 8pm Eastern. All sessions are live, but recorded entirely and available for download, too. Find our more here.