MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Fort Gibson

July 7, 2014

Parent-child relationships don’t have to be difficult

As a full-time youth minister, husband, and parent of three children, one of the challenges I hear teenagers talk about the most is their relationship with their parents.

What always seems to surprise the teenagers I teach is that parents also struggle with how to handle things when they discover their children have a mind of their own.

It’s not just difficult for one side or the other. But both the child and the parent are going through uncharted territory.

They need each other to get through this time of life, but figuring out just how much and in what ways is another story!  

Yes, we parents have already gone through the adolescent years. But for some reason, that doesn’t seem to make parenting much easier, does it?

At least we know (most of the time) why the friction occurs, though we don’t always know when it will occur.

What’s funny is that kids are usually under the impression that they are the ones who struggle the most in this relationship.

In some cases, this may be true when the parent has totally lost touch with what it was like to grow into your own person.

I read a statement recently in the book “What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do” by Randy Simmons that I believe to be very true when it comes to parents and children getting along.

He said, “Teenagers need strong ‘roots’ and stability, but at the same time they need some ‘wings’ with which to fly and exert some independence.”  

Trust is a great tool in a child gaining independence and freedom.

A teenager can earn trust by accepting responsibilities, following directions, maintaining a proper and respectful attitude, and not being sneaky.

For instance, when a teenage girl tells her parent she can be trusted, she must prove it with her actions and attitudes more than just on the day of the request.

A parent once told me that his sons wanted to skip Wednesday Bible class and go to a movie.

The parent simply answered, “With good decisions come good consequences.”

And then he walked away.

The boys trusted their dad and showed up for church on their own.

He kept his word and gave them money to pay the cost of the late movie and snacks.

If kids only knew just how easy it really is to keep this parent-child thing under control, they would have a much smoother existence under their parents’ roof.

Unfortunately, the art of good communication is something most people do not learn until a little later in life.

Effective communication builds strong bridges connecting parents and children.

The book I mentioned lists the following suggestions:

1) Choose an appropriate time and place to talk about your complaint, not publicly, and not in times of stress and pressure.  

2) Be direct but gentle. Words can hurt both ways. So teach your children to obey, but not be afraid to ask questions about reasons why. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Prov. 15:1).”  

3) Tell the truth. Lying creates distrust.

Kids and adults sometimes choose to lie in order to avoid conflict, only to have to face a more heated argument later.

4) Deal with problems before they get too big. Sometimes, conflict is based on a simple misunderstanding.

Sometimes, one side or the other just chooses to be difficult.

Yes, children and parents can be guilty of this. I would not suggest this tactic.

In the end, neither side wins.

On the other hand, having a respectful and loving attitude and at least trying to understand the other point of view will make everyone feel better towards each other long term, even if a parent and child still do not see eye to eye.

Have a blessed week!

Reach Barrett Vanlandingham at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ at (918) 478-2222 or barrett@ftgcc.org.

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