The more patience you exercise while communicating with your children, the more deposits you will make in their emotional bank accounts.
Published on: 03-09-2018
My children are driving me crazy. I thought by now—they are ages 13 and 15—they would be much more responsible. As a single parent I have been working two jobs to make ends meet. I provide them with a roof over their heads, food on their table, clothes on their backs, and a good school for them to get an education. What am I not doing right? Please help. Sometimes I feel as if I’m going to lose my mind.
Parenting is challenging work. Parenting is even more demanding by yourself. And parenting teenagers is often the most trying parenting period to that developmental stage.
The thing to remember is that your children—who are growing up quite fast—are behaving rather normally for their developmental stage, which invariably taxes most parents. But before you know it your children will be grown and gone.
So we encourage you to pray for patience, read good books about parenting, speak to people you trust who have parented children “successfully” to adulthood, and live one day at a time. You should have the presence of mind to know that you are dealing with the proverbial parenting glass half-full, rather than half-empty. The more you look at your teenagers as works in progress—which, by the way, is true for all of us—rather than lost causes, you are more likely to influence them positively, rather than destroying their self esteem and your peace in the process for years to come.
Also, think about responding with love, just as God does with us when we mess up. Instead of getting angry, yelling, screaming, threatening, or showing resentment and frustration; answer with patience, kindness, empathy, and more patience.
While you may feel like giving your children a piece of your mind, that will accomplish very little by way of teaching them to be responsible to the expectations you have for them. Children—including teenagers—learn more by what their parents do than by what they say. And while yelling and threatening may get your children to comply with your expectations out of fear in the short run; in the long run they will not learn to be responsible.
The more patience you exercise while communicating with your children, the more deposits you will make in their emotional bank accounts; and the more currency and influence you will have with them while they are children, and even more so as they become adults.
As people who have parented children to adulthood, we empathize with the current stage of parenting you are going through. We know how difficult that can be, and how easy it is to want to give up by being punitive and harsh. However, take a deep breath and choose the loving approach. You will never regret it.
As you think about what we have shared, we invite you to consider this counsel from the New Testament about doing things for God’s glory, including raising responsible children: “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins’” (1 Peter 4:8).
Our prayer is that you will love well through your parenting, and that you will reap the benefits of patience and kindness with your children, which are out of this world.
Willie Oliver, PhD, CFLE, an ordained minister, pastoral counselor, and family sociologist, is director for the Department of Family Ministries at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Elaine Oliver, MA, LGPC, CFLE, an educator and counseling psychologist, is associate director for the Department of Family Ministries. You may communicate with them at Family.Adventist.org, or at HopeTV.org/RealFamilyTalk.