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Dads2Dads: Giving thanks for those teenagers

jfelkins • Nov 29, 2015 at 6:00 PM

It’s a wonderful holiday. It brings the family together without the exchanging of gifts—the clutter and clatter of Christmas. Yes, there are parades and football games, but Turkey Day still seems calmer, less frenetic and more focused on family relationships.

Be Thankful for the Totality of Your Teen

This is a good time, Dad, to bite the bullet and be thankful for all those things that get under your skin about your teenager. Yep, they do talk back, often without thinking. Yes, somehow, they know better than we do about things of this world that they haven’t yet experienced. Teens are a complex package. They are also an incredible gift.

The Gratitude is Mutual

We’re pretty sure that your teenager, as exasperating as she might be right now, is thankful for a home that provides shelter and safety. Teens may never express it, but we’re convinced they observe you struggling every day in order to put food on the table, pay for that prom dress or class ring or support the latest school fundraiser. It just may not be in their DNA to admit gratitude for their blessings. If, however, your teen is the least bit aware of the poverty and despair around her and across the world, she knows how fortunate she is to be living at your address, under your roof and, yep, by your rules.

When your children leave those teen years behind and become young adults, it is truly amazing and satisfying to hear them echo the advice and counsel that you tried to hammer home three or four years before. You’d be surprised how many of your instructions sink in. Believe us, it will happen! Even when you think your teenager is totally oblivious to what you have to say (and they’re pretty convincing!), he is processing the information. 

While your teenager may not say thank you to your face, you have the opportunity to put your arms around him this Thanksgiving and give thanks. It may not be easy, depending on the latest family crisis, but we’re the grown-ups here. 

Love Who They Were, Are, Will Be

When we tell our teenagers how thankful we are for them, we’re celebrating who they are and who they will become. One day they will grow up and be those mature, sensible and responsible individuals we’ve longed for. So this week, when the family is gathered and you muster the courage to get all mushy and corny, think about that young child who sat on your lap and listened to your stories—that adolescent who slipped a homemade birthday card under your pillow—that confused or angry teenager who mouthed off to you but loves you like crazy … and then squeeze the stuffing out of them and tell them eye to eye: I love you … always have … always will.

Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of “Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers.” Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @dads2dadsllc. They are available for workshops. Contact them at tomandbill@dads2dadsllc.com.

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