This morning, as I was folding laundry, I sat pondering what someone asked me last night.
“So, is your son as quiet at home as he is here?”
My youngest is playing a small role in a play in our community, and he’s been labelled as quiet. Wait, what? Quiet?
That boy hasn’t been quiet a day in his life. He’s funny, hyper, crazy, loud, and talkative.
At play practice, others see him as quiet. Quiet.
Time turned back, and I thought about my oldest. At about the same age, he told me once, with real fear in his words, that he had stage-fright. I remember thinking, “WHAT!? You’ve never ever one time been afraid in front of a group of people.” But for a time, he was, but he’s not anymore. Now he’s a tour guide at a local cave, and he speaks in front of strangers all day, several times a day. He’s a born leader. When he was 5 years old, he could have the entire playground filled with children previously unknown to him playing some game he’d made up. “Do you want to play with us?” he’d ask perfect strangers. Yet, for a time, he had stage fright. It came out of nowhere, and one day it slipped away quietly, and I realized it was gone.
Thinking about my oldest, that’s when it hit me. These are the days in a young person’s life when he suddenly realizes that others see him. That what he does is right there in front of the world for everyone to see and judge. Boys and girls alike suddenly become visible, vulnerable, self-conscious, exposed, scared, worried.
What is it about puberty and hormones that does this?
I have no idea, but what I do know is that these are the days when teenagers becoming young men and women push so hard against their parents, but they need us so very much. They need us to say, “YES! You ARE who you once were. You are funny and bright and capable.” They want to know that they are loved and cherished even when they push. They crave acceptance and hugs and encouragement. Not fake praise, but genuine words of affirmation.
You CAN do it.
I believe in you.
I am on your side.
Tell them what they are good at. Tell them you love them. Tell them you are proud when they show compassion, kindness, generosity, and self-control. Set boundaries. Push gently. Encourage. Exhort. Praise. Lift them up.
Then, in time, prayerfully and with God’s grace, your son or daughter will step confidently out into the world and embrace the gifts that God has blessed him or her with and just be… amazing.
They need you mom and dad. Your teens need you.