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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Youth - How To Love 'Em When They Seem "Unlovable"

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Youth - How To Love 'Em When They Seem "Unlovable" -  By Steve Wickham

Parents are often plagued with problems raising youth. It can seem never-ending, and at times you feel like giving up. Parenting is a mutually-exclusive club in this way. All parents face problems in their developing youth-aged kids. It can be a tortuous time for parents and youths alike.
I recall a situation when I was doing youth work in a high school. My job was to prepare and deliver a student focus program each week consisting of games and a short talk on Christian values. At the end of one particular program, when packing up, I had a boy, Josh, come up and ask if I really enjoyed working with kids like him. He seemed despondent. When I said it was fun, he said, "But, aren't we a pain?" He was having problems at home and obviously felt he was getting in the way there. His perception was he didn't quite fit in the adult world.
The following quote highlights an important thing for parents to consider:
"When I was a child, I needed love the most when I deserved it least. I've heard it said, 'Teenagers are the most unlovable when they need the most love.'" C. Wysong, from The Covenant Companion.
Without simplifying things too much, problems can emanate from situations where parents either try to control their teens too much, or not enough (i.e. they're not interested enough), resulting in rebellion; either outward in behaviour, or inward via attitude.
Another issue is confidence. When there's a lack of confidence in the young person, there is a lot a parent can do to bolster self-esteem and reinforce the good. When all they seem to do is wrong, they are most in need of the unconditional love that must come from a parent.
There seems to be two things to be mindful of:
1. The relationship has changed, or needs to.
Some parents don't recognise the need to change their approach to parenting as their children get older. Parenting style needs to evolve from the supervisor/controller role that usually works well with children under 12, to taking a more facilitative approach; becoming more of a friend/ally/guide. If you're already in the position to scoff at the very possibility of being a friend to your teen, in other words you can't see that EVER working, you desperately need to work on gaining the trust and respect that will get you there. It's not all one way, but it is up to you to make the first move, by taking the initiative.
It can't be over-emphasised-this is YOUR responsibility, not theirs; you're the parent and adult. It is your job to never give up on your child. Take action if you need to. You need to establish and maintain a relationship of mutual trust and respect with your teen; this will waver from time-to-time; all relationships have their high and low points, so forgive yourself here. It doesn't mean there will never be conflict, but you will have the emotional credits in your account to make it through if there is mutual trust and respect.
What parents need to understand is youths need lots of grace; lots of space to make mistakes and be forgiven and not condemned. They want to be treated as responsible adults when some of the time (at least) all you'll see is an immature, selfish, and almost "unlovable" son or daughter hardly worthy of the respect they seem to command from you. This is where a little faith is required on your part, and boundaries.
2. Boundaries are critical.
If you're going to commit to a more collaborative style of parenting, boundaries will be required. They're important in all relationships, but critical with youth. Be gentle on your boundary-setting and always do it in partnership with your teen-this is a way for them to see you treating them as a responsible and reasonable person, and you get to model fair treatment, trust and respect with them-they are still learning a lot from you, and how well you handle things, including conflict, will affect how they will in their adult years. As an incentive, how do you wish to be treated when you're elderly and they are the ones caring for you?
Many parents will have forgotten the anxieties and heart-wrenching changes they went through during their teen years-all the fears that gripped them, which either never came to fruition, or they "dealt with"-either properly or improperly. It's a scary time.
Dialogue and patience is always important during work like boundary-setting. Don't use complex, intimidating terms and language that might frustrate them; try and stay at their level without completely stooping to all their demands. Stay in control emotionally. Adult behaviour is responsible, rational, reasonable, realistic, and logical-communicate in these ways and they will respond in kind eventually; be patient. Remember, you love them, and they love you too.
Have a heart for your youth-aged son or daughter. Bear in mind the quote above, and also the fact that "hurt people hurt people"-no-one ever tries to hurt someone who isn't hurting themselves.
Spare a thought that your teen could be confused, fearful, angry, anxious, or experiencing a mix of troublesome emotions. This is a time they really need you, and this is a time where the platform to a fantastic relationship can be built-all through the pillars of trust and respect.
If you are able to quietly support them and always "be there" for them, it can give them an enormous sense of comfort as they make the arduous transition into adulthood.
© Steve J. Wickham, 2008. All rights reserved Worldwide. Steve Wickham, a former youth worker, has three children and is passionate about the development of kids today. He is regularly involved with teaching and leading children's programs; he's a safety and health professional (BSc) and a qualified Christian minister (GradDipDiv). His passion in vocation is facilitation and coaching; encouraging people to soar to a higher value of their potential. Steve's key passion is work / life balance and re-creating value for living, and an exploration of the person within us. His highest goal is doing God's will, in enhancing his life, and the lives of others. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Steve_Wickham Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/910908

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