I work every day with teenagers, and sometimes their very stressed out parents and guardians. If you have a teenager, you know that they are sometimes incredibly anxious, and sometimes it feels like they don’t even know what’s going on (I feel like I can say that, since I kind of help them navigate their lives every day). I have found myself in more than one situation where I could be harping on and on about what that child did wrong, but since they are well aware, I have the opportunity to help them figure out what to do next, and allow them to just “have a minute” in my comfy chairs.
I was a counselor for quite awhile before becoming a mom, and I can say with 100% confidence that being a mom completely changed the way I saw other people’s children. Teenagers are kind of my people, but instead of looking like mini adults, they all of a sudden looked like taller versions of my small child (when people ask me how I deal with teenagers on the daily, I remind them that they are just like little kids with phones and car keys, they have the same needs and the same voice control volume). Most teenagers are absolutely terrified of the next big life change, graduation and beyond. They may say otherwise, but I know the truth (senior parents, you do too).
Children a little humans, with sometimes big emotions. Things happen in their lives that are out of their control, and so many of them are expected daily to face adult responsibilities. and unfortunately, adult consequences. And let’s face it, life is hardly ever “fair” in the way she doles out advantages and disadvantages. I can name a half-dozen kids who would love to have a home with a mom or dad who cooks dinner, asks them how their day was, and just is generally present in their life, but not all kids get to have that. Knowing this makes parenting a sometimes sassy seven-year old difficult at times, when he informs me that I am the “meanest mommy ever” when I limit his Minecraft time or force him to take a bath, how dare I, right?
So knowing this, and knowing that everyone you meet is facing a totally different set of circumstances, and perhaps they are having the worst day of their lives, grace is so necessary, and so simple. I give my students grace when they are so disappointed in themselves for something they have confessed to me that was not the best idea. I give my own child grace when he just woke up and is crabby, and I am rushing him because I didn’t prep the night before like I should have. I give my friends and family grace when I do not take everything so stinking personally (it turns out that when someone doesn’t return a text to me they might be going about the tedious business of raising tiny humans). I can also give myself grace when I realize I do not have to control everything in my home, and my child is not going to be perfect all the time, because I’m not either. Giving your kids grace does not make you weak, it means that you recognize that your child is just as human as you are. What a better way for you to embody God’s grace to us (so eternally thankful that He does not hold a grudge for all of the nonsense I have done) than by giving that same grace to the people you love, the people you work with, and yourself. I have to give my kiddo lots of grace for that sassy, funny mouth, because he simply cannot help the genetics, honestly.