Trust me, there were no softball questions. One question that stood out to me was, “My dad is getting remarried, and I don’t like my step siblings…how do I deal with that?” Yeah, try to answer that one spontaneously. The others were no easier. Fortunately, I was among other caring and experienced parents. They all gave great insights, and I sat there thinking I wish I had asked more questions of other parents when we had our own teens. But sadly, my wife and I did what most parents do: We attempted to navigate those years alone. But there is a better way.
It wasn’t that we never asked for help or spoke with other parents. I quite vividly remember conversations with other dads who were facing struggles with their sons and daughters. To hear them voice their fears, disappointments, and even failures was a great encouragement to me. I remember thinking, “I’m not the only one!” And on other occasions, I thought, “At least I’m not facing that issue.” But those conversations were scattered, and the challenge of raising teenagers was a daily struggle – with something new always around each corner.
I hope what I am writing is resonating with you. And if it is, let me assure you that there is a community full of parents who need you as much as you need them. That’s right, they need you. With all your uncertainty, fears, and failures, you have wisdom and experience that someone desperately needs to hear. And if you truly have nothing of value to share, a listening ear may be all that’s required to keep a parent from just throwing in the towel. Right now, there is someone close by saying, “Well my middle school kid is a lost cause, but I will do better with my nine-year-old who still listens to me.” They need you.
Will you take the initiative? Someone has to speak up. Maybe you need to go to your child’s school and meet with a teacher, counselor, or administrator and say just say, “Please, help me.” Another option may be speaking up in your church, or Bible study, and asking, “What do I do?” For those of you in such groups, when you hear a parent make a joke about their kids, realize it may be a very real cry for help. Don’t just laugh at their circumstances. Invite them out for a coffee, and share your own story. It all comes down to speaking up. Your family and kids are just that important. Take a risk today.