As your child enters the teen years, think of your family as a team. Every team has well-defined objectives or goals, and all the players need to understand the goals and rules. So ask yourself, “What are we trying to do in this teenage season?”
Excerpted from Parenting beyond the Rules: Raising Teens with Confidence and Joy by Connie Albers
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Jaclyn steals the ball from the opposing point guard, dribbles down the court towards her team’s basketball hoop, then stops midcourt to look for her teammates. She hears the coach shout, “Pass the ball” and bounce passes to the point guard, who takes it to the hoop and scores two points. The score goes back and forth throughout the game—they’re up by four, then down by two. As nervous as I am, I love watching both teams play. In particular, watching the coaches fascinates me. The skill it takes to keep a group of players focused on the end goal is remarkable.
Although I never played sports, I didn’t let my lack of athleticism stop me from being involved in my kids’ sports activities. I loved supporting the teams and being my kids’ number one cheerleader. When the kids were little, I volunteered for their teams. Then in high school, I helped with each of the kid’s basketball teams and Jaclyn’s soccer team. My involvement gave me a glimpse of how teams learn to work together and what happens when they don’t.
On a sports team, there is something unique about how each player interacts with the others. Every player has a different personality, attitude, skill set. They all come with experiences from playing with other teams—being the star, getting rejected, hearing praise, being underappreciated. As you watch, you can pick out the encourager, the risk-taker, the showman, the loner, the player looking out for others, the one giving their all, the one who is having a bad game. Yet despite all these differences, the players learn to function as one body with a singular focus.
Parents are like coaches. We teach, train, guide, and make our kids do hard things. We help our children learn how to work together with different family members, to do things they don’t like without complaining, to learn to do a job well and to serve others. Every time we help our teens learn to work together, we can teach them what coaches do.
Here is some of what we can learn when we’re part of a team:
- We learn to accept imperfection
- We learn that we will sometimes have a bad game; that’s okay
- We learn that we will mess up—and to try harder next time
- We learn that we might not be the star, yet we’re still part of the team
- We learn to trust teammates
- We learn to trust our teammates under pressure
- We learn to rely on our teammates’ skills
- We learn to let go of being in control
- We learn to communicate
- We learn to work with others
- We learn to be unselfish
- We learn to voice our needs
- We learn boundaries
- We learn respect for authority, coaches, and referees
- We learn to follow the rules of the game
- We learn to show grace when the rules are broken
- We learn the importance of overall health
- We learn the importance of eating well
- We learn that performance can be improved with proper nutrition
- We learn the impact of staying up all night before a game
- We learn areas of strength and weakness
- We learn about personal limitations
- We learn how to overcome weakness
- We learn to be honest with our team
- We learn the value of consistency
- We learn to push when we feel like quitting
- We learn self-control
- We learn discipline and the value of practicing
- We learn life isn’t fair
- We learn that life, like sports, requires courage, bravery, and transparency
- We learn that resentment, frustration, and disappointment are part of living
- We learn that sometime things will go wrong
As your child enters the teen years, think of your family as a team. Every team has well-defined objectives or goals, and all the players need to understand the goals and rules. So ask yourself, “What are we trying to do in this teenage season?” Understanding your goals will help you have a vision for moving forward. Rules become the guiding principles that govern how you live and how your family navigates this new season of life. Being aware of where you’re going acts as a conduit for keeping everyone working together. Your team will be most effective if everyone knows who’s playing, grasps the objective, understands his or her role, and learns how to communicate with one another.
Parenting beyond the Rules: Raising Teens with Confidence and Joy by Connie Albers
Parenting teens is one of the most challenging seasons of parenting, isn’t it? While this can be a difficult time of transition for parents and teens, there is hope. You can parent well and build a stronger relationship even through the teen years.
After 30 years of parenting five children and 20 years of working with teens, Connie Albers has witnessed the negative impact of well-intentioned but misguided parenting styles, all focused on managing teens rather than guiding them. But through learning to focus on the hearts of your teens, you can avoid those pitfalls and build relationships that last beyond the transition years as you intentionally learn about, connect with, and listen to your teens. In a world filled with distractions and devices, it is possible to guide their hearts and remain the primary influence in their lives. In Parenting beyond the Rules, you will discover how to raise a teen according to his or her strengths, talents, and personality type, as these things equip teens to manage life.
Join Connie Albers in discovering practical solutions for every parent trying to raise a responsible, godly teenager.
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