On the journey from adolescence to adulthood, your kids will experience insecurity, contradictions and mood swings. They will send you conflicting signals: needing closeness, yet distance; connection, yet independence; all at the same time. They will pull you in with one hand and push you away with the other. You must understand that your kids still need to feel securely attached, even while they’re distancing from you. When they push you away you must show maturity, remembering that it’s not personal; it’s just how they test their ability to become independent adults. Minutes, hours, or days later they are your child again, wanting to be up close. It’s the “tug-o’-war” of parenting youngsters, and it will resolve itself the right way if you handle it with understanding. Above all, contain your hurt and anger. “Fathers (mothers), do not…provoke [engage in contention, debate and strife] your children to anger [irritation, exasperation, embitterment]” (Eph 6:4 AMP). The worst outcome of frequent run-ins with your kids is that it produces long-term discouragement in them. Long after the “mop-up,” your child can “lose heart” (Col 3:21 NAS), and have a “crushed spirit” (TM). In some cases they give up trying altogether. In western cultures girls hold onto the parent-child “rope” longer than boys, generally distancing later and with less finality. Boys tend toward earlier, longer-lasting distancing. When you deny your son or daughter the God-given need for gradual latitude, they’ll disconnect farther and faster. Use wisdom, “let out the rope” gradually and they’ll learn adult skills and stay more closely connected.
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