I have a great friend and mentor in ministry by the name of Steve Coleman. Steve has been doing youth ministry for over 30 years in some form or fashion. His blog is one that I read from time to time because of his wisdom as a youth pastor and parent. Today, I wanted to share a post that he wrote over a year ago. I found it very helpful and thought you would as well. You may even want to subscribe to his blog for future posts or even read through the archives like I was doing today, http://twicechosen.blogspot.com.
I Feel So Guilty!
I Feel So Guilty! are the words that I heard a working mom say one time when she was talking about her little rug rat and her lack of discipline in his life. She knew that her 4 year old was the CEO of their home. Mom and Dad both worked hours and hours each day and they were away from their little tike most of the time. When they got home there were chores to be done around the house, you know laundry, cleaning the home, dinner, and getting little man ready for bed. Because mom was out of his life most of the day and he was in the day care environment she felt guilty trying to make him toe the line. There was guilt in her life because she didn’t want the only time she saw him being wrapped up in rules, telling to do and don’t, and him being unhappy.
The real problem with mom was that this issue was not about her son but more about her and her selfishness. YEP, her selfishness. It was about her and not about her son and his learning that life is about rules, guidelines, boundaries, and expectations. His being out of control was not his fault but his mother and father’s issue of not being the parents.
Too many times parents allow fear and guilt/selfishness prevent them from helping their child, and especially their teen, from becoming responsible. “Guilt is a feeling of self-condemnation over doing something that hurts your child. Guilt is more about the parent, because guilt centers on the parent’s failures and badness rather than on the teen’s, or child’s, difficulty and hurt.” Guilt will keep you from doing something that will make your teen mad, get upset, disappointed, or frustrated, because you want to avoid an even greater sense of guilty feelings.
Dr. Townsend says this about the guilt issue. “Learn to experience remorse. Remorse is an empathetic concern for the pain that your teen feels. It is solution oriented. If you feel remorse over something you have done that hurt your teen, your focus is on helping your teen heal from the damage you may have done.” Sounds good to me because (TRUTH ALERT!) as a parent you will let your teen down, you will frustrate them, upset them, and there will be times that will not like you! Understand that this normal! There will be times that you will not like them either. Trust me.
If you fear that your teen will withdraw from you if you set guidelines for him and then you back off because of that fear; bad news. You are teaching your teen that they can withdraw their love from you and you will cave in and give into them. Parents if you train, teach, and discipline this way; your teen may not have the problem here, you will. Students will withdraw when they are disciplined, it is normal. It is not normal to let them stay that way for an excessive amount of time so they may need your help to reengage but you are doing this for your child.
Your teen has to become their own person so don’t take it personally when they withdraw. As parents we want our child to create their own opinions and identities. Once they learn to do this as a Christian teen they will learn to own their faith and not ride the coat tails of their parents in their faith.
Parents as a teen, especially boys, they seem to get mad, angry and upset a lot! Maybe they only get upset while they are awake but the anger thing seems to always to be there right below the surface. I know that some parents don’t want to cross their kids because they might get mad at you. WAKE UP! Your teen will always be mad at you about something, it’s in their nature and they will throw an angry fit which is a teens temper tantrum! “If your teen is never angry with you, you’re probably doing something wrong! So let your teen get mad at you, and stay present with them, as long as they are in some control of themselves.”
If your teen is normal, they will get upset at you when you set limits on them. Great! A normal teen! However, the end results are what you are looking for and not a retreat from any anger and guilt.
Setting the right guidelines and rules for your teen will help them in the long run as they are learning to function in society. Setting guidelines, and being the parent doing the hard things for the right reasons will help you to never say again, I Feel So Guilty!