Posted by: cmittermeier | June 7, 2017

children grow up in the blink of an eye, yet a fight with a teenager is a thousand years

Every time I run into problems with one of my sons, the quote from 2 Peter comes to mind, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (2 Peter 3:8)

In the end, getting their schoolwork done is my responsibility and that means there will be many an argument.  The older one knows to hold it in check a bit, and certainly knows when I’m nipping it in the bud to knuckle down and do it – during the day that is.  After school hours, well then I’m just a regular parent nagging about homework.  The younger one is just starting into the teenage push back.

I tried to sit him down again tonight, review the rules of the game… I tried the approach of why adults like to work with adults is because they have mastered the unspoken rules like not interrupting, but he had to do the interrupt-to-explain-why-he-interrupted…

Do no speak unless spoken to.  Sigh.  Life was much simpler with straight forward rules, now we complicate things.  Empowering children, that’s how I remember it when that old rule came down… yet, I don’t think removing that rule empowered them at all.  Authority matters. Respect matters. Staying quiet matters.  Learning to hold your tongue is a very important life skill, and is an important part of learning how to speak your mind.

But no one learns how to speak their mind by interrupting and rambling on.  They learn by holding their thoughts in, sorting them, ordering them, and expressing them clearly in an organized fashion.  When appropriate.

All these mountains we help haul them up are for their own good, and as the teen years come, we hope they have a greater buy in.  Learning not to fight the one helping you is a difficult lesson, but a necessary one. For the helper, it is a challenge to stay strong, and stretches the time so a single lesson can feel like the proverbial thousand years.

The last two days, to not loose it during my thousand year climbs, I have been eating.  It allowed me to have an oasis of something I’m still trying to identify.  It was partially calm and feel good, but it was something more than that. So I decided to journal tonight and see if I could understand it better.

Some of it is running out of control – though often I can do both, eventually I can either control my eating, or my temper.  Both are the same muscle – resisting an urge. As I started to slip off the rails yesterday, I knew I was making a conscious choice to not yell instead of staying strong on both.

Some was taking short term control; I had very little control over my sons response to the work he had to do and no one enjoys a fight, so I would take short term control over the food as a substitute for happiness, albeit a very temporary one.

I am worn out, and I sincerely hope my son will try just that little bit harder tomorrow to work WITH me.  So many friends have said they could never homeschool because they felt every day would be like the last two I’ve had, but, they aren’t that everyday.  My hope that tomorrow will be better is not some airy fairy pie in the sky hope.  Its very real.

Homeschooling has allowed us to find the same page when climbing a few mountains, and every time it gets easier because it builds the habit of working with, not against each other.  We still have mountains left to climb (isn’t that right, mr. sixteen-year-old evening homework?), but we are getting practiced at climbing them and that means the time frame shrinks so they don’t all feel like a thousand years. Who knows, maybe even I will learn how to climb the under-stress mountain along the way.

Till then, I’m back to the sacraments and prayers for glimmers of the road ahead.



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