I want my kids to like me.
Yep, I said it.
But, truth be told, I really want everyone to like me.
Unfortunately, life has taught me that this state of “likability” is subject to random definitions and sudden changes that have actually have very little to do with real growth.
When my girls were young, I remember moments, frozen in time, where I wanted someone else to jump up and be the parent–anyone but me. I really wanted to be their friend. Someone they wanted to hangout, laugh and confide in. I did not want to be that parent:
“But why can’t I ________ insert any of the following: (go, buy the shoes, stay out till, etc.)
“Because I said so…”
Sometimes I really didn’t have a good reason that would stand up to the scrutiny of my negotiating teenager. What can I say? My brain was older and not processing at the speed of light that theirs was.
Call it intuition, call it a sixth sense…
Sometimes my “no” and sometimes my “yes” was from a place within that told me “this” (whatever it might have been) was a good choice. Often as parents we can think–IF we cannot explain it well, then we cannot justify standing firm.
Without sounding too overdramatic, I truly believe that our teenagers are in a serious fight for their lives. They are laying the foundations of how they think about life, love, friends, identity, etc.
They need input. And let’s face it, this input isn’t always received with enthusiasm, open arms, or the ideal interaction we’ve dream of: “Wow! Thanks Mom, thanks Dad for being willing to tell me these things! You guys are just the best! I really appreciate it!!”
Instead, at least for me, I often got this: “Your ruining my life, your giving me no choice but to rebel!”
What is that struggle within that causes us to see things so “black and white”, “for or against?”
I’ve been reading Paula D’Arcy’s, Seeking With All My Heart. these past few weeks. She writes about how pain can “break us open” causing us to see more clearly. “When love moves, it sometimes destroys. But for our sake. Anything in its path, anything that is not Love.”
As parents, we sacrifice financially, emotionally and physically to prevent our children from experiencing pain.
Here’s a thought: what if pain is a part of how we love them? The pain of needing to stand firm in places we would really rather be the buddy, the liked one…
My cautions for us as parents:
- Notice the motivations of your “yes” and your “no.”
- Recognize that certainty of being liked, avoiding the wrath of what “no” can bring, cannot be our motivating factor
- Know that hard conversations do not define an unwillingness to be “friends” with your teenager. In fact, “friends” that refuse to have hard conversations are rarely in it for the long haul called life…
Love is an action, and it risks being misunderstood. Sometimes it does not make sense until later…much later. Holy Week – case in point, Jesus’ torturous walk with a gruesome cross, yet he knew that his Love would destroy things we could not see.
While I like being friends with my now grown daughters, truth be told I continue to be invited to this line of love that presses me into the place of choosing: am I willing to destroy, “anything that is not Love” that might be between us?