Of all the things you learned in school, my bet is you didn’t take a class in parenting. There is no textbook or script to follow. That might have been really helpful! Or, it might have scared you off from having kids! Sometimes raising teens is like an action packed drama, sometimes it’s a full-blown comedy, and sometimes it can be the scariest thing ever! I would like to talk with you today about how your teen’s life can be like a 3 act play. The structure of a good story or play is simply Exposition, Rising Action, and Resolution. In a family setting, these acts are not necessarily horizontal, they can go back and forth and be intertwined in a complicated drama! If you live with teens, you know what I’m talking about!
Act 1 is Exposition. This is where the scene is set, the characters are introduced, the foundation is built. In this act, your teen is doing well, there is no drama, they’re in good spirits. They are willing to listen. It’s time to lay some good foundational stuff in their lives. Teach and encourage them. As the spiritual leader and as the parent who is seeking to guide their teenagers spiritually, this is the perfect time to be be able to lay down some real biblical truth that they might actually be able to hear.
Act 2 is where things start to get a bit dicey! In any good drama, Act 2 is where the Rising Action takes place. Your teen might be stressed, emotional, or even very quiet and withdrawn during this stage. Just because your teen might be quiet, doesn’t mean nothing is going on. Often this is when they are most anxious or worried. It’s not as easy to know what they’re going through if they aren’t talking about it. It’s your job to get in there and pursue them. Common sense may say, “Why don’t I just give them space? Why don’t I let them have room to figure it out?” However, this is one of those times that your teenager really needs you help. If they tell you they don’t want to talk or need their space, you do need to honor that but let them know you’re available. They look to you to be their safe zone, so come back later and maybe ask something like, “How can I pray for you?” or “I can tell something’s bothering you. I see it in your eyes. What’s up?” Don’t hover and be over-protective but be available.
Act 3 is the Resolution part of any good story. Things may come to a head, a climax and need to be dealt with. When your teen’s emotions are running high, they’ve made a poor decision, gotten themselves backed into a corner, are angry, distraught, and feel like their life is spinning out of control, it’s up to you as the parent, to offer hope! Yeah, there are other things you might have to offer too! Maybe “offer” to take their phone away or their keys for a time, or some other consequences, but try to stay calm, non-reactive, be a gentle presence (I know! Easier said than done!), and offer them hope! “I know you’re a good kid. You made a mistake. But I believe in you. Although there’ll be consequences, we’ll get through this together.” Let them know your expectations but that you have unconditional love for them. This models an amazing spiritual lesson for them also, Don’t you think? And it might take practice! My husband is so much better at the staying calm and unemotional part than I am! For me it takes practice and being intentional. But my kids have always known that I love them and want the best for them, and I’m always ready to listen.
So although, there is no script or textbook for every parenting situation, God gives us a wonderful example in the Bible. Sending you prayers of blessing as you maneuver these amazing foundational years of parenting.