I find myself in a truly unique position. I am a parent of two children. I also work with young people. These two areas of experience have given me some interesting insights.
I know that the typical parents want the best for their children. We are bombarded with messaging that tells us we need to provide our young people with material goods, very available opportunity, and endless resources to pursue their dreams. As parents we set aside our own desires and ambitions to fuel this provision. We are then frustrated when our children are struggling to be the amazing adults that all of our investing should have created.
I talk to the young people and they are so frustrated with their parents. I believe their two major areas of consternation come from three things:
Every teenager feels it and every adult has been there. You feel socially awkward, the future is looming and scary, and your pumped full of hormones. Your happy, terrified, independent, angry, sad, laughing uncontrollably, and lonely all in 10 minutes; and on top of that you cannot control any of it. If that is what you have going on inside is it realistic to expect to have it all together on the outside at all times. Nope. As parents we have to be realistic about where our children are emotionally. As young people we need to be doing our best to communicate with our parents. They cannot support us if they cannot understand our chaos within.
I am astounded by the expectations some parents have. So many parents go to one extreme or the other. On one extreme some parents provide for every concern and insulate their children from reality. On the extreme there are some parents who drive their children to the breaking point. Placing much pressure on them they feel like they have been thrown to the wolves. If I have been so insulated that I have never faced genuine struggle the transition to independence is terrifying and overwhelming. Conversely, if I have been slogging through my childhood and now I am faced with higher expectation of adulthood I may be too overwhelmed to climb that mountain.
The same thing happens with providing our children. When parents provide for all of their children's wants and desires we have damaged their ability to have reasonable expectations for early adulthood. We are are essentially asking them to transition from a life of ease into a position to where they are responsible to provide all of this for themselves (which they know if impossible) or they have to do without. Of course since they have rarely if ever done without, that seems like a death sentence in our materialistic world. If we don't provide them with enough resources and support they look at the transition to adulthood and it is very bleak. They expect the world will expect as much and the parents....and they are doomed.
Why are we surprised when our children are frustrated, question our methods, and fear we no longer love them. We must learn to balance providing for needs and some rewards while letting some things go for another time. We need to learn to show them they are supported while they will also have to be responsible. It isn't easy being the parent or the child. Let us not forget the difficulties on the other side of the table. If we talk, listen, support, and take responsibility we will get through it. People have been surviving this process for a long time now.
I believe that no matter what worldview we espouse we should understand what we believe any why. I hope to show others that the Christian worldview is not only accurate but true. If not, I hope they will be clear on why they reject it.