I was thinking the other day about how much I dislike confrontation and why. I'm still trying to figure this out but I know that a lot of it is that my nature is one of being a peace-maker. I don't like the feeling of discord when two or more people don't get along.
As I was reflecting on this subject, I remembered that I did like confrontation when I was younger. I remember my turbulent teenage years and my relationship with my parents. I remember, at times, purposely pushing for that confrontation. I remember being conscious about that fact as I pushed certain buttons or wouldn't let a certain subject drop. Seems childish now, but I remember the feelings that were involved at the time and it felt like it was something I just had to do.
Having my own children travel through their own teenage years and working with teenagers, I now understand better what my internal angst was about and why I felt a need to act out.
I think it boils down to the teenager feeling like they don't have a voice in what happens to them or their life. This can be just perceived or factual. Either way, the feeling is very real. There's a saying that applies very much to a teenager's life; their perception is their reality.
Anything I write from here on will sound very simplistic and it really isn't. Every child is different. Parenting styles are different. But I think it's safe to say that pre-adolescent and adolescent children are feeling their way through very rocky years and need to be encouraged, supported, and unconditionally loved.
I think this means that parents need to help them through this time by allowing them to use their voice and listening to them with a heart wanting to understand what their struggles really are and coming along side them as they work through the ups and downs that come their way.
For me as a teenger, I know I felt like my voice wasn't being heard. That my parents didn't care about my feelings, my desires, my needs. As a parent, I can look back and know that my parents did care, but I don't think they really knew what my true desires and needs were. They were so wrapped up in doing what they felt was necessary as a parent (and I'm not saying that this is wrong), that it didn't matter what I wanted or needed.
I think there are ways that parents can be parents but still give their children their voice, which helps them figure out who they are and how to handle the obstacles that come their way.
To prevent this post from becoming too long, I will continue it Thursday. If you have any thoughts on this subject, please leave them in a comment and we'll continue the discussion on Thursday.