I have mentioned in the past that we have now raised 4 teens and we were Youth Pastors for 15 years and had worked with Youth Pastors for years before that. One thing I have run into quite a bit with parents is their complaining about their kid’s choices. Now, I am not talking about choosing bad friends, or choosing to skip school, or choosing to set random fires… I am talking about choosing to color their hair or parts of their hair purple or green, choosing to wear navy blue nail polish, or even whitish makeup or weird haircuts.
But, my response to all of that when parents complain to me was and is: “If purple hair is your only teen issue… you don’t have a teen issue.” Truly, your parents (yes, I am old) didn’t like your hip huggers, mini skirts, long hair on guys, hair metal bands, punk rock, screamo or rap music.
But, you turned out fine. Choose your battles, is it a hill worth dying on? Trust me their will be REAL teen battles and absolute hills worth dying on and PLENTY of them… hair style/color, and most clothing choices do not fall into that category.
Will dog collars and white makeup mean your child will become a “Satanist”? I have known many teens who did all of that and none of them are now worshipers of Satan, they are married normal, loving parents who no longer where dog collars and white makeup :).
How do you know when to worry? When your kid retreats from the family, seems depressed or overly angry. I have found that these are all signs that there is something bothering them and often they feel guilty or are carrying a weight too heavy for them and they don’t know how to talk to you about it.
I am blunt with my kids, not mean, but blunt. I ask outright questions, the hard ones, the ones you don’t want to get the wrong answers to, but, those are the ones that open the gap, start them talking and when I get an answer I don’t want, I don’t freak out – at least that’s my goal. My Mom once told me that we often told her things she didn’t really want to know and she felt the reason was that she never acted shocked and that way we never tried to shock her. I have tried to use that with my kids and it worked well for us. Even now with the last one at home. Their friends even shared stuff with us that they never have shared with their parents even now that they’re grown with kids of their own.
When your kids adopt a new “style” think first if this is something you think is worth a battle. Do you want hundreds of inconsequential battles with your kids, or do you want to wait until there’s a bigger issue you feel can’t be chalked up to weird but acceptable to you?
What are your thoughts?