You are trying your best to cope. You are often biting your lip, muttering under your breath, restraining yourself from saying or doing anything that you might regret. Good luck. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You will regret much of what you do and say.
Because you’re human, there will be moments when you let something trip off your tongue that you wish you could take back. You’ll be – and you probably already have been – faced with instances when you took hold of a son or daughter’s arm a little too aggressively, squeezed too hard, maybe gave it an extra tug before you caught yourself and regained composure.
Magic moment memories
Both of us recall instances when we wish we could go back in time. Today, we have the advantage of hindsight. Reflecting on the past has its upside and its downside. We think back to those magic moments when we connected with our teenagers, when they listened to our advice, when our counsel was actually on target – and everything turned out well. Ah, we were so wise. The outcome may have been accidental or due to the grace of a higher power; nonetheless, it felt good when all was right with the world.
Those other memories
We also recall those times when we were not friends with our kids, when we felt unappreciated, taken for granted or simply dismissed. Sometimes we deserved it. Ah, we were so stupid. At the time, however, we faced our children on the battlefield of egos and control. It did not feel good to be disrespected and brushed off. After all, we were dads working hard at being dads. We demanded respect. Looking back, we realize that our teenagers were working just as hard at being teenagers. Sometimes they also felt brushed off and disrespected.
Here’s what we’ve learned, over and over and over. No one talks on a battlefield. There’s just a lot of wounding.
We share these reflections with young dads to reassure you that, in most cases, you and your kids will come through those turbulent years with a greater appreciation, understanding and, yes, respect for one another. Time finally heals most wounds and shuts the door on the past.
Some sermons stuck, some stunk
It does an older dad good to hear his son say something that reflects a core value that once was the subject of too many parental sermons. Or to hear his daughter condemn behavior for which she herself was once admonished. We have learned that most – not everything – of what we tried to teach and instill in our children actually stuck. And we confess that not everything we preached should have stuck. In fact, it stunk.
Take heart, dad. That day will come.
Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of “Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers.” Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @dads2dadsllc. Contact them at [email protected]