Saturday, March 27, 2010

Buckle your seatbelt!

Parenting an oppositional teenager! It’s enough to start the dogs howling and send the normal parent running. Remember when you first saw your precious, compliant, innocent, newborn baby? You had no idea then that you’d be parenting an oppositional teenager now. Of course, calling a teenager oppositional is like calling sandpaper rough, of course it is! But I am convinced that hidden within the context of that opposition are the makings of an assertive, confident, risk-taking adult. In my work at Shelterwood the last thirty years, I have observed a common link between leadership and opposition. Shelterwood is a Christian State-licensed residential home for teenagers and their families. We help families put the pieces back together so the family can live back under their roof as a working, loving, dynamic unit. I have observed over the years that the teens that come to Shelterwood are the teens that have the confidence and assertiveness to take chances and sometimes get into trouble. They are the leaders.

I love to study history. Background checks of most famous leaders reveal people that didn't just coast through life. They were different. They were risk takers. They were willing to “cut against the grain.” True leaders are always willing to do it differently. Of course they may be oppositional during their adolescent years, because they are forming the confidence and spunk that, if molded and crafted correctly, lends itself to a productive and effective leader. Followers are important and needed, but the followers stay safe and calculated. The leaders step forward.

It’s true, not all leaders go through a significant oppositional stage in their adolescent years. Some do and some don’t. We’re not sure exactly why. When nature and nurture are added together, we’re all unique and different.

So, hang in the there. This won't be easy. This isn’t elementary school stuff. It’s Graduate school level learning. It’s difficult. It can be ugly. It can be confusing. And there are no guarantees. But in the end, all that’s asked of parents is to give it their best shot. When we, as parents, lay our heads on the pillow at night, we can rest knowing we’ve done our best.

So, buckle your seatbelt………..©

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