Read on for some assurances ... you will survive those rebellious teenage years.
During pregnancy and in the baby’s first years, parents get a lot of information about how to be a mom or dad. There are countless books, magazines, and online resources about feeding babies, caring for their health, organizing your time, couples’ communication, and so forth.
Babies grow quickly, and soon the parents find themselves in a phase where they feel like the Lone Ranger. A desert, a burning sun, and in the distance, a gun-toting adversary called son (or daughter) who constantly is giving us reasons for concern:
- They call from school to say that he has failed five subjects and they don’t know why — and he hasn’t told you.
- One night, he arrives home so late that you’re at the point of having a heart attack.
- You gave her some jeans that cost you a fortune and you see that she has torn a couple of holes in the knees.
“No one prepared us for this,” said Carles Capdevila, a Spanish journalist with a great sense of humor who became the father of a large family and became famous for his talks on family issues. “You get home and, while your little one looks at you with an admiring gaze, the adolescent’s face seems to suggest that he hates you deeply.” That’s the constant contrast, he explained from his own experience.
We give everything to our kids: our life, time, best efforts, money, even our figure … Dads start to suffer hair loss, especially as the end of the month draws near. And when you’ve already built up a long list of sacrifices, you find that your son or daughter returns everything to you with a kick where it most hurts: they get kicked out of school or off the team, or they go to jail because they got in trouble one night …
And so you might wonder: “Is all this sacrifice really worth it?” The answer, in spite of everything we have said, is a definite yes.
The biggest mission of your life
Raising your kids is possibly the biggest mission you will have in your life. Think about it and compare it. It’s more important than having walked on the moon, or than having discovered penicillin, or having invented the light bulb.
Raising children means having those little people’s lives in your hands, and giving them the spiritual food they need at every moment. By the time your children reach their teen years, you’ve been watching over them for years; you have guided them, you’ve shown them the way, you’ve loved them, and you’ve made them understand that they are loved. You’ve tried to be exemplary as much as you could, and you’ve taught them your values in words and deeds. And you have formed them to be free. Ask the CEO of a company if his work is as wide-ranging as making a baby grow up into free, responsible individual, capable of using his freedom wisely.
The only complication here is that we are born with original sin, that “factory defect” that limits us and makes us less than perfect — both us and the little ones. That’s why sometimes you get tired and you wonder if it’s any use educating your children. But it’s just a small moment of fatigue, like the ones suffered by any long-distance runner or cyclist during a race. Don’t lose sight of the goal: the happiness of your family, and your own. You’ll see how your batteries will get charged anew, and how you’ll see the meaning in every step that you take to raise them well.
Also remember this: adolescence is not forever. A time will come when they will look back on the way you handled their moods with patience and humor, and they will be grateful for how understanding you were during their “awkward phase.” Most of us acquire self-knowledge at some point, and we come to realize that we were difficult teens and that we gave our parents extra gray hairs that they didn’t need.
At some point, the little child who looked at you with love will come back again, this time as an adult who looks at you with respect and gratitude. Hang in there!