Being Thankful for Teenagers
This week is Thanksgiving, a time to reflect on all the things in our life that make us grateful. For many of us, family tops that list. Our family members can bring meaning, purpose and love into our lives… although we might be more grateful for some members than others. When our children enter the difficult season of adolescence, the gratitude for our child can sometimes dip during this time as they struggle with rebellion and defiance, peer pressure, developing independence, and establishing their own identity. But, while there is no doubt that teens can be frustrating, moody, and difficult, they also offer a lot of new possibilities and perspectives to our family. If you choose to look for it, there are a lot of reasons we should be thankful for the adolescents in our lives. To inspire you, here’s our top 5!
1. More Freedom. Young children’s needs are quite demanding, and parents spend years making food, cleaning up messes, running errands, and so much more. But when your child enters adolescence, you finally have a bit more freedom. Your teen can pitch in to help around the house. They don’t interrupt your sleep. They can stay home by themselves while you run an errand. Your teen can make their own food. They can sit through a long meal at a fancy restaurant or wait patiently at a doctor’s appointment. Your older teen can even drive themselves to their activities. Adolescence translates to more parental freedom.
2. More Thinking. Conversations with teens are more meaningful. When children are young, discussions are pretty limited, but having a teen can really make you think. Since teens are being introduced to new concepts all the time, they have fresh perspectives on things that we might not have considered before. Adults can get cynical and overlook things, but teens are seeing it for the first time. Teenagers often have a quick-witted, sarcastic humor that never ceases to find the humor in any situation, which can make conversations lots of fun. As teens develop their independence, they start to form their own opinions on relationships, health, politics, world events, and culture that can surprise us. Teenagers challenge us to think differently, and if we are open to hearing them, those challenges can help us grow and change.
3. More Help. While it is not always easy to get our teenagers to do chores, they are capable of being very helpful. From laundry to dishes, from cooking to pet care, teens can make some real positive contributions to the household. They can also be a great source of tech support, fixing the computer, downloading apps, or educating you on the latest trend. Giving teens responsibilities around the house helps them develop important life skills, but it also lightens up your load.
4. More Milestones. We celebrated every major milestone of our babies – first food, first word, first step! Sometimes we forget that the teen years actually have some major milestones worth celebrating, too. It’s exciting to watch your teen learn to drive, attend their first school dance, master a new skill, go on a first date, excel at a sport, achieve a goal, and graduate. Don’t take these moments for granted! We can be grateful for their growing maturity.
5. More Passion. Teenagers don’t want to miss a thing in life! While we can become tired or cynical over the years, our teens are full of energy, embrace trying new things, are eager to connect with friends, and see new ways to improve the world. You can look at their passion with cynicism – “they haven’t learned enough to know that will never work” – or you can be inspired by their fire. It’s refreshing to see a teen’s youthful exuberance!
Show Them Your Gratitude
After looking at this list, you might feel a little inspired to show your teen that you ARE grateful for them. Here are a few ways to demonstrate your appreciation for your unique teen:
- Look at them and give them your undivided attention when they talk to you.
- Say yes sometimes! It’s easy to get in a habit of saying no without really thinking about the request. Give your teens a bit more freedom, allow them to take some reasonable risks, and give them the space to make their own decisions.
- Be interested in their interests. Get to know their friends. Attend their events. Ask them questions about their hobbies.
- Make a habit of spending one-on-one time with them. It might be just a few minutes each night before bed or it might be a monthly date to their favorite restaurant, but find some quality connection time in your busy schedules.
- Demonstrate your love with small affections. Leave them notes telling them how amazing you think they are. Pat their shoulder as you walk by or give a hug before bed. Make their favorite meals.
We see a lot of reasons to be thankful for our teenagers, and we hope you do, too! Everyone here at Middle Earth wishes you and your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving.