Didn’t See That Coming!

by Parents Radical, December 7, 2012 Relate, Relationship With Your Teenager 2

We are really excited to have Andy Wood guest posting for us again! You can read more of Andy’s writing at LifeVesting.com

Make sure you download Andy’s book The Twelve Pathways of Christmas FREE from the kindle store Dec. 7th- 9th

 

Didn’t See That Coming

The older your kid, the greater their capacity to drop a bombshell in your lap.  Great example:

A couple of days ago my four-year-old granddaughter came home with a note that said she didn’t obey her teacher that day.  After taking away her privileges of TV, iPad, and phones until she earned them back, my daughter told her she was very said and disappointed.  Her response:

“Well I’m not sad.  I am the queen of the world, and I tell everyone what do to.”

That’s a bombshell, albeit an absolutely hilarious one, for a four-year-old.

The bombshells of a 14 or 16-year-old, however, come with higher emotional price tags.  What do you do when you find out your daughter has been sexually active, your son has been drinking and driving, or your soon-to-be honor graduate has decided to give up her scholarships and move to an “artists community” in Greenwich Village or somewhere in Oregon?

Hmmm.  Didn’t see that coming.

Kabloom!

And watch this… almost without fail the bombshell happens right after a time when you think they’re really doing so well!

Kabloom again!

Have you ever noticed that when you start moving in a positive direction, life (translation:  your teenager) has a way of testing you out of center field with alarming or disarming stuff?  And it comes dressed in any number of ugly outfits.

School/grades bombshells.

Emotional bombshells such as depression or anxiety.

Boyfriend/girlfriend bombshells.

Health bombshells.

You-did-WHAT-with-my car? bombshells.

There are plenty of other types, but you get the point.  What do you do when life blows up in your face and your teenager is on the other side of the explosion?

What NOT to Do

I probably should point out a few things NOT to do.  Most of these fall into the category of “Don’t be stupid.”

For example, don’t unleash a bunch of words you will regret later.  Beware of accusing, attacking, or verbally judging your teenager by presuming to know their motives.  There are safe places to vent, but don’t verbally vomit just to make yourself feel better.

Don’t assume your life or happiness is a thing of the past.  Teenage-sized bombshells may blow up your short-term assumptions, but they can only rob you of your long-term joy if you let them.

Also, don’t cut yourself off from people who care.  You may feel hurt, angry, frightened or betrayed.  You may need some time alone to sort some things out.  You may need some face time to hash things out.  But bombshell experiences are the times when true friends are revealed and the strength of your family is tested.  Don’t be stupid and push people away.

Here are a few ideas for what TO do:

Pray

Let’s start with the spiritually obvious.  Bombshells to you are no shock to God.  Course-altering disasters to you may not be His intended plan, but they certainly are in the realm of His purpose and care.  So talk to Him.  Ask Him what to do.  Tell Him how you feel.  Set your gaze on him.  And make sure to take the time listen.  Make your prayer a conversation, not a monologue.

Take a Day and Have a Spell

That’s what my Southern ancestors would call it.  Throw a fit (though not necessarily at your kid).  Set aside some time to worry a little, mourn a little (or a lot), vent a little (see warning above), or even feel sorry for yourself.  Your temptation may be to rush into solution mode and try to fix everything, but that’s harder to do when you’re hauling a bunch of emotional baggage.

I learned this the hard way a couple of weeks ago.  All of a sudden, one day my blood pressure shot up (that never happens), my skin got all clammy, and I started getting extremely anxious, then profoundly sad.  After a visit with my doctor we concluded that my body and emotional system had decided it was time to mourn my sister-in-law’s death after six weeks of being tough for everybody else.  (A friend had warned me about this.  Guess I wasn’t paying attention.)

Not all bombshells are created equal.  Not all spells are created equal, either.  Make sure to match your response to size of the explosion.  Don’t gauge your reaction based on everything that has gone wrong in the past or could go wrong in the future.  Get some perspective even as you’re having your spell.

Focus on “What,” Not “Why”

You may or may not ever learn why your teenager’s bombshell dropped.  Either way, it’s not likely to serve you as you start looking to move forward.  To do that, you need to ask “what” questions.  Specifically, you need a Plan A, Plan C, and Plan D.

Plan D are the detail questions.  Who needs to be contacted?  What needs to be taken care of immediately?  What happens next?  These questions are important to get you moving somewhere, anywhere.  The old adage is that it’s easier to steer a moving vehicle than one that’s sitting still.

Plan C stands for calamity questions.  Okay, so your thoughts have raced to the worst possible scenario.  Bombshells have a way of doing that.  So go ahead and develop a disaster plan.  You probably won’t need all of it.  But make one anyway.  Avoid pointless statements like, “I just could never make it without _______,” or “I just couldn’t handle it if _______ ever happened.” Yes you could.  Plan C considers how.

Plan A is the surprise – “A” stands for “aspirations.”  Bombshells have a way of exposing or creating new dreams and aspirations.  Yes, these come last.  But they do come, and you need to give yourself permission to have them.  The late Dick Clark is a great example of this.  His brother was killed in World War II, and Dick found comfort in listening to the radio.  Out of that a Plan A emerged – to entertain people in much the same way that disc jockeys and musicians had done for him.

A had a tough talk with a friend I’ll call Al a few years ago.  He was angry and hurt because his daughter was unmarried and pregnant.  He had a hard time trying to have a respectful relationship with the baby’s father, much less his daughter.  I felt the need to remind him that what Satan intends for evil can often turn out to be a gift from God.  “That is, after all, your first grandbaby, isn’t it?” I asked.  “If I were you I’d start preparing myself to be a grandfather and the strongest spiritual influence that baby could ever know.”  It totally changed his perspective, and his aspirations.

Many a life-changing development started out as somebody’s bombshell.  Your situation is no different.

Ask for Help

How many times have you heard somebody say this, or said it yourself:  “Let me know if there’s anything I can do.”

Translation:  “I have no idea how to help you, but I’m willing to try if you’ll help me.”

So help them!  Let them know what you need and how they can help.  Who do you know who has been through something like this before?  Time to make that call.

Tell me some crap like “I don’t want to be a burden,” and I’ll fight ya.  The bottom line is, the people who don’t care won’t LET you be a burden, and the people who do care are ALREADY burdened.  You’re just giving them something tangible to do.

Pray

Can’t say that one enough.  At each stage, each encounter, each idea, each onslaught of emotions, keep listening, keep talking, keep casting your burden on the Lord.  He will sustain you.

Okay, What Now?

This question, simple as it sounds, is the sign of a healthy response to teenage bombshells. When you or the people who love you are gently asking that question now, today, and you are seeking answers to that, then regardless of how you are feeling today, you are moving forward.

I feel like staying in bed all day.  Okay.  What now?

I just want to hurt somebody the same way they hurt me or my baby.  Okay.  What now?

I just don’t know what to do.  Okay.  What now?

I feel as though God is a million miles away.  Okay.  What now?

Of course, there are healthy and unhealthy answers to that question.  But by simply asking, “What’s the next right thing to do?” you are transforming a bombshell into a building block for your future.

You may not have asked for that emotionally-charged explosion.  But you can still respond with grace, strength, and authority.  And speaking of authority, I can speak on God’s and tell you, what people or Satan means for evil, God means for good.

About the Author

Radical Parenting is an idea that came about through prayer, conversations, and observation of the typical “church-going family.” The goal of this site is to be a resource that informs, encourages, and even challenge parents. We pose the question, “What does it look like to raise children who spend their lives investing in the Kingdom of God?” Radical Parenting is about answering that question.

Comments

  1. JB says: December 7, 2012

    Great post.

  2. BR says: December 12, 2012

    Great wisdom from “on high”…Andy is a trusted parent!

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