Teenagers are hard to figure out sometimes. They sometimes act like they are an adult and want to be treated like an adult. They make reasonable requests and are able to defend their position for what they want like a defense attorney. During these times they act so responsibly and you as a parent are sucked into thinking that my adolescent is growing up.
On the other hand, and sometimes within the next sentence, they are acting like a child not wanting to take any responsibility and not wanting to have any accountability slapped upon them. During this time, they are irresponsible and don’t do any of the chores that they are asked to do around the house unless you yell or tell them 50 times–I am exaggerating at this point, but it seems like 50 times at the time.
Teenagers vacillate from one extreme to the other and causes a parent of the teenager to feel like they are going crazy–the parent that is. These swings in being responsible and switching to being irresponsible can and does wear the parent out. We long for either the childhood stages where the child is compliant and obedient, or we wish that they would grow up and get out of the house.
What I have just described for you is a normal teenager, and yet there are some exceptions to normality. Some teenagers hold on to being a child and balk at growing up. They want to be treated like a child and have you do everything for them. These teenagers are in danger of becoming dependent on you and staying around for years and decades.
On the other side of the coin, the other extreme teenager rebels from the parent or parents and seems to do the opposite of what the parents want them to do. If they want the teenager to do well in school, the teenager will do the exact opposite and not study for a test, or not turn in homework they did under the parent’s supervision.
I am reminded of a story in Genesis. It’s a story of Issac who had two sons, Esau the oldest son and Jacob, the son who stole the birthright and the blessing from his older brother. The story unfolds when Esau finds out that the father wanted the younger son to go to a far away place to find a spouse for Jacob. “Not Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman,” and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram. Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, (a Canaanite woman) Genesis 28:6-9
Esau didn’t get what he wanted, so he found out what his father and mother really wanted and did exactly the opposite. It may be that if you are a parent and find that your child or teenager is doing something that is opposite values that are important, it may be that they are doing those things to get back at you for something that is unresolved between the two of you.
On this journey, actions that we see in children are often a reflection of the connection or disconnection we have with them. Looking at the relationship in this way can get to the source of patterns of behavior in our next legacy and turn their direction around.