Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.
Prov 3: 13-18
So one of our favorite sayings as expert justifiers
(convincing ourselves and others that the wrong things we do are really okay)
is this: “No one’s perfect.” It’s a fantastic statement mostly because it’s
true. I mean who can argue with that? There is no one past, present, or future
who’s perfect. So you think: How can my parents give me such a hard time for
one mistake? I mean really, I know for a fact they did the same thing when they
were my age…Grandma told me. So why does it matter so much that I didn’t clean
my room, or that I bombed one test, or that I was ONLY ten minutes late getting
home? What’s the big deal?
fill you in on a well-known but much despised fact. The way you handle small
situations is an indication of how you’ll handle big ones. No, failing to clean
your room isn’t the end of the world. But how about a room that is in a
constant state of disaster? What does that tell your parents? I can speak to
this one from personal experience. I believe there may still be a lingering
odor in my room at my parents’ house from the Easter eggs I forgot were in the
bottom of my closet when I was about ten. Not to mention the peanut butter
sandwiches, clothing, sweaty volleyball shoes, and books scattered everywhere.
It wasn’t pretty. And to this day, my parents take great satisfaction in
reminding me of how messy I was. And I still struggle with organization and
cleanliness…just take a peek into my car.
easy for me to say, “No one’s perfect.” I have other areas of my life where I
excel, and this is just the way God made me. I am organizationally challenged.
think about what you’re really communicating to your parents. You’re telling
them that you’re messy, that you’re still a kid, and that you don’t take
yourself seriously. Now, maybe you’ve got it together in other areas of your
life. I was a very good student, good athlete, had a job, and I stayed out of
trouble. So having a messy room didn’t affect things too much when I was a
teenager. (It certainly does now, but that’s a whole other article)
question is, what’s your “messy room?” In what area of your life are you
unorganized and sloppy? What could you do to send a message to your parents
that you’re growing up, you take your responsibilities seriously, and you can
be trusted in larger things? Maybe it’s your grades. Maybe it’s your attitude
when they tell you to do something you don’t want to do. Maybe you’ve been
dishonest about your social life.
Think about it. If you can put
forth the effort to be more responsible in a small area of your life, you have
something to show them, something that says you can be responsible. You can be
trusted. And once you can be trusted, you’ll hear the beautiful sound of the
word “Yes!” Of course you’re not perfect. Your parents know that, and don’t
expect you to be. Just show them you can clean up your messes.
So what "mess" can you start with in your life?
The quickest way to destroy trust
is to lie. But it’s our first instinct when we smell trouble. Fear can shoot a
lie out of your mouth before you even realize it. The trouble is, once that lie is out there,
you can’t take it back. And before you know it, you have to tell another lie to
cover that one. Lying is like quicksand, and it will bury your character.
The only way to avoid the
quicksand is to avoid the lie to begin with. Tell the truth to your parents,
even if it terrifies you. At least they’ll know they can believe you when
you’re telling them something good, and they’ll go easier on you (most of them
anyway) when you screw up. Cause face it…you’re a teenager; you’re going to
See, here’s the thing…your parents
actually WANT to trust you. But they also love you so much, they’re terrified
beyond all reason that something bad is going to happen to you. And the more
responsibility they give you, the more terrified they are that they’re going to
give you too much, and you’ll end up dead in a ditch somewhere. Maybe it’s irrational,
but trust me…you’d much rather have parents that are all over you because they
love you so much than parents that don’t give a rip where you are or what
But, you say, why does it have to
be one crazy version or the other? Can’t I have some freedom and sane parents
at the same time? Yes. Absolutely. But a lot of that depends on you. Now, you
can tell me I’m wrong and argue with my advice all you want. It’s your freedom,
your independence, your life. Ultimately, you are responsible for the choices
So what can you do to increase the
chances that your parents will let you do the things you enjoy? First of all,
be where you say you’re going to be with the people you say you’re going to be
with. Call when you say you’ll call. Be honest when you do something wrong or
irresponsible. That way, you’re telling your parents that you can learn from
your mistakes. Learn to say, “I’m sorry (Mom/Dad). What I did was wrong. I
shouldn’t have (fill in the blank). Next time this happens I’ll (fill in the
blank).” Then DO IT!
It’s not rocket science…it’s not
even algebra. If you make a sincere effort to be who you really are, say what
you really mean, and do what you say you’ll do, people in general (not just
your parents) will be able to trust you. It’s hard. No one is perfect. But if
you can be trusted to admit to and learn from your mistakes, then you can be
trusted with the freedom to make them.
When I considered starting a blog that would speak to both
teenagers and their parents, I have to admit my first thought was that I had no
business giving advice. And who’d want to listen to me anyway? On most days I
like to think my students are genuinely interested in what I have to say, but there’s
no denying that they’re a “captive” audience. Given the choice, they’d happily
trade being in math class for video games, texting, facebooking (is that really
a verb?), or even sleeping.
But here’s the thing…for some reason I can’t explain, I have
an enormous amount of love for the kids that come through my door. I mean,
people say to me all the time, “I don’t know how you teach middle school.”
And I play the part of saint very well. “Yes, it’s tough.
Those teenagers can be a real challenge.”
But secretly, I know that I’m blessed every day to get to
hang out with them. I hope they all know how much I truly love them.
So when that little voice in my head says I’m not wise enough
to advise anyone, and definitely not cool enough that kids would want to read
what I have to say…I think about those kids in my class, those incredible minds
just waiting for the fog of hormone overload to lift, and I pray that God will use
my words to encourage them and to remind them how loved they are.
So read on, enjoy, and try not to take me too seriously.