The Gift Everyone of Us Can Give
Parents of adolescents… stay cool, don’t panic. Your precious little -sweet- child has not suddenly lost their ever-loving-mind!
It’s just THE epic transition you’ve been dreading since they arrived! You know, the painful process of growing up. A rite of passage that every parent endures, as kids move up from childhood to become young adults! All of it aggravated by nearly permanent ear buds, post-Christian pop culture and the once-in-a-lifetime, hormone fueled…adolescent growth spurt!
I recently talked with a slightly sheepish 11-year-old who was anxious about when he could expect to enter the aforementioned hormone tsunami, and finally get his mustache and muscles. He was openly noticing how much taller his ‘younger’ sister was and woefully predicting that he could end up being the only one in his family shorter than mom!
I paused for a moment and reminded myself of how it felt to be a pre-adolescent boy – living in an adult world. The shortest kid in your class, with a child’s cherubic, stubble-free chin to defend every hour of the junior high day. I could feel this little guy’s angst… his uncertainty and his frustration and even open bewilderment.
It suddenly dawned on me… his dad wasn’t around to reassure him. Raised by a single mom who was working day and night to make ends meet, he didn’t have many role-models in his masculine life. Like many kids today, there just wasn’t anyone to take the time with him to dig into the deeper stuff… to explain this hormone fueled season of life and to convince him it would all turn out OK in the end…
So I did. I had forgotten just how terrifying the path to adulthood really was.
The issues are still exactly the same as when I grew up… (Identity, acceptance, purpose, girls…) but the intensity and complexity of all the ‘extra’ stuff kids struggle with has dramatically amplified the impact of stress on our kids. The layering of uncontrolled circumstances and the pace of life has increased the stress on pre-adolescents like never before and we adults need to be extra sensitive to our kids’ needs.
No generation has ever needed to be more affirmed, encouraged and supported. No other generation has ever felt the anxiety of only knowing and growing up in a post-9-11 world.
Pre-teens are desperate for adults to take the time with them! They long for someone to show a genuine interest in them…. to believe that they are important enough to warrant a semi-adult conversation about their very grown up fears and frustrations, loves and likes.
Let’s all agree to listen more and pay attention to the 10-11 and 12-year-old kids in our world. To really LOOK AROUND and be aware of these ‘tweens’! To remember they are little adults desperate to be affirmed, accepted and included in a grown-up world.
It maybe that our extra attention at just the right moment in a tween’s life will change their world forever.
That’s a gift every one of us can give.
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