I often begin parenting workshops on the topic of raising adolescents by asking the participants to provide one-word answers to the question, “What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘teenager’?”
The responses parents give are often words like moody, irritable, difficult, challenging, and rebellious; … you get the picture. It is interesting to note that when pressed to explain why this is the case, most of the parents simply shrug their shoulders in bewilderment – implying that the teenage phase is one that defies logic.
It is my strong belief that when we gain insight into any challenge we face, we are well on the way to resolving it. The wisest of all men, Shlomo Hamelech (King Solomon), alluded to this when he penned the timeless words, “Ani binah, li gevurah – I am understanding, with me is might (Mishlei 8:14)”.
With that in mind, I always encourage parents to think of adolescence as the ultimate transition – as this is the phase in which our sons and daughters take their first awkward steps on the long and winding road which takes them from the comfort of our homes into the uncertainty of the future. And transition almost always evokes discomfort and irritability.
Think of your last vacation which involved an airplane trip. You love your home life and most certainly are looking forward to your excursion. However, the transitional phase in between those two places inevitably contains components which are unpleasant at best, and will almost guarantee that you will be, … well, … moody and irritable.
So the next time you blanch at the annoying symptoms of adolescence that your son or daughter is exhibiting at any given time, try to conjure up a mental image of yourself about to go through the airport security checkpoint after a fifteen-minute wait on line. Then, imagine how eager you would be to have philosophical discussions about the meaning of life or to listen to a critique from your spouse – with your worldly possessions divided among three gray bins and your untied shoes in your hands.
© 2010, Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved
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