I DON'T DO TEENAGERS ◽ HOME
By now, our kids have begun to realize that life isn’t going back to normal just yet. School has started and learning looks so different and weird. And we are still telling our teens to keep their distance, be safe, and wear a mask. However, they want to hang, live on the edge, and keep their faces uncovered! And yet all we find ourselves doing is barking orders like, “Wash your hands!” “You can’t go there!” “You forgot your mask!” It’s tiring by now, for all of us!
I remember when it was just trying to get our kids to wear helmets when riding their bikes, and my kids just opted out of riding altogether! They didn’t want to ride if they had to wear a helmet. So some teens are going to opt out of going places if they have to don a mask. We never gave in, and they never loved helmets, so that was that! Now they have kids and helmets are required…go figure.
Covid fatigue is a real thing, especially among the teen world. Suicides are up, counselors’ virtual offices are full, and our teens are feeling more isolated than ever…hopeless…and without purpose. If we are struggling with covid fatigue, imagine what our kids are going through, and they don’t have the decades of life experience and wisdom that we do! And if we’re experiencing fatigue, we are sometimes not so well equipped to help our kids.
However, as parents, we have to observe and guide and help, and here are a few ideas to try:
Keep conversations healthy. In other words, we can make sure that our dinner and phone conversations are not arguing with others about politics, full of worry over the latest number of cases, etc. Maybe we think our teens are never listening to a word we say, but believe me…they are…and those words affect them.
Keep doors open. We can allow our teens to talk about how they’re feeling during the pandemic, where life and school is anything but normal. Talk as a family, and see if you can give thanks daily for at least one thing good during this time. Thanksgiving and open doors will keep the family home smelling fresh, in more ways than one.
Keep news at bay. If you want to check the latest stats or listen to the chaos on the streets, do so. But be the guard over how much of that is listened to by your teens. If the teens want to watch the news; then watch it with them and discuss afterwards, always offering the truth of the Word over the words they hear as the truth, on the media.
Keep schedules and chores. Kids need time to chat with their friends and play games, etc. But have that time on a schedule, along with other things that keep them focused and on task. Besides school work, help them develop a new hobby or learn a new skill. Allow them to make one meal a week, organize a drawer or closet, plant and grow an herb garden, etc.
Keep worship going. If you’re not meeting in a building, but only watching online, then make sure to include family worship as part of your time at home. Let the teens be the ones that pick the songs, play the music, etc. Let them be the “worship leader” of the home, as they search playlists and hand out lyrics to each family member. How cool would that be?
Keep the Word at the center. This is a great time to train our teens how the Word can be a lamp, a light, a comfort, and a seed for all they need. Encourage them to write their friends a scripture to encourage. Ask them to present a thought for the day from a reading, to the family one night a week. Weekly, ask your teens what’s bugging them and show them how to search the word for answers and guidance.
Keep creativity alive. Let them explore their talents through painting, music, dancing, sports, even while distanced. Allow them creative time to search, let them share with the family, or even with friends. Encourage them to write music, draw what’s on their minds, make up a dance or even create and play a new game!
This is a hard time for all of us, and we cannot belittle our teens and their feelings. Their hormones, their worries about their futures, their self-images and desire for friends, their growing pains into adults, all make it hard under the best of circumstances…and much more so during a pandemic. We have to be diligent to love them, listen to them, and learn with them, hour by hour, day by day…
…until we all emerge as stronger families and our teens take with them the pure gold they discovered (or that discovered them) while in the middle of the covid fire.