Stalled Out

Screen Shot 2018-02-22 at 8.56.54 PM.pngFebruary 22, 2018

Dear Families,

This past weekend, we purchased a car for Hunter.  I believe he would word it a bit differently.  An adverb like “finally” would likely precede the verb purchased if he were sharing the story. With this purchase came more parenting opportunities. Very exciting. It also provided further confirmation that we need to empower our children to navigate obstacles.

We purchased a manual transmission Jeep Cherokee. In so doing, we afforded ourselves the opportunity to basically reteach him how to drive. Hunter mirrors me in many ways. Good and bad. We share many of the same strengths and weaknesses. One such weakness, or “opportunity for growth,” lies in our ability to accept help from others. We don’t. I could likely write 10 entries on this topic alone. We also expect to be able to figure things out immediately and independently. When that fails to occur, frustration increases.

One of Paul’s strengths is his ability to embrace the process of learning. It is truly one of the most beautiful qualities he has. Struggle does not hinder or intimidate him. Where Paul sees struggle as an opportunity for growth, Hunter sees failure. The battle between them ensues each and every time their view of struggle collides.

Paul immediately began to plan how he would teach Hunter to drive a stick. Truly, his eyes danced at the thought of this bonding experience.

I sank back in silence and prepared for the turmoil.

Hunter stalled the car on his first try of transitioning into first gear. Paul responded with patience and encouraged him to try again. Again, the car stalled. I watched Hunter’s reaction. I interjected a few pieces of advice. Paul countered with more advice. Hunter battled back with frustration. The perfect storm ensued.

The storm passed. Hunter can now downshift with ease, navigate a turn, and maneuver traffic.

But none of this occurred without conflict, without a battle. Our Sunday navigated heartache and sadness; but thankfully, it also enjoyed forgiveness and healing.

It’s frustrating at times to navigate personalities, expectations, fears, plans, etc. Isn’t it? We live in a world where we display only our successes. Our best foot is always forward. The Cleaver’s have nothing on any of us. Well, at least we would like to think so.

The bottom line, living life in the thick of it means the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes the bad and the ugly dominate the season in which we find ourselves. We desire a peaceful, calm relationship with our teens. We want to have meaningful conversations free from conflict. Above everything else, we only want the world to see the perfect side. The good.

Yet, the reality remains as true today as it did 100 years ago.

Teens navigate a tumultuous road toward adulthood. The path is riddled with conflict and challenge. Often as parents, we engage in that conflict. We even, at times, create it.

Yet, I truly believe our greatest parenting can come in times of our deepest conflicts. For I believe it is in the times of conflict when we too have ownership in mistakes, that we have the greatest opportunity to parent with humility. When we endure angst and struggle with our teen, we demonstrate the reality of life.

Conflict exists.

Conflict divides.

Conflict hurts.

But also that conflict can be healed.

By comparison, I would argue that parenting to promote safety is easy. Parenting to advocate for your child, again easy.  Parenting through personal flaws and mistakes. Painful and difficult. The more we empower our teens to navigate conflict in a healthy way, the more we direct them to the path of healthy relationships. Modeling how to ask for forgiveness provides freedom.  Modeling how to take ownership of mistakes empowers our teens with inner strength and confidence.

Honored to Serve You All,

Janet Worley

P.S. If you find yourself tempted to “help” solve a problem for your child, put them behind the wheel of a manual transmission, in traffic, on a hill and have them navigate stalling the vehicle. It’s amazing how resourceful they can be when they have to solve the problem. I can confirm this…we are still alive and the car is in one piece.

Food for Thought: Teens and parents in conflict