Sweet 16

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Every year I truly look forward to writing posts on my boys' birthdays.  I love reflecting on the past year, digging up baby pictures, and anticipating the future.  I wish I could say I felt the same way this year.  
My firstborn hits a major milestone today and while it's exciting on one hand, it also brings many feelings to the surface about how difficult our relationship has been for the better part of the last six months.  We have butted heads more times than I care to count and it seems as if we start the day with tension more often than harmony.  But I don't want to devote this post to wallowing in the negative--I just want to be honest.  
Knowing the ebb and flow of mine and Quinn's relationship, my sweet mentor forwarded a weekly email she receives from a gentleman whose ministry focuses on raising teens.  (Can I just say that I love that this woman is 65 and she spends her time keeping up on today's parenting even though her kids are in their 30's??)  The title of the email was "Boys to Men" and the tagline under the photo was "Angry 15-year- old boy." The article went on to explain what happens in a young man during that crucial year from 15 to 16.  It was so spot on and gave me a lot more understanding, compassion and tolerance--and the ability to see life from Quinn's perspective.  I realized that I don't have a clue what it is like to be a teenage boy in today's high school environment.  The amount of pressure he's under on a daily basis is something I can't relate to: sports, academics, social media, peers making life changing choices and feeling the temptation to do the same.  He has to practice an immense amount of self control from the time he rises to when he turns in for the night.
Here's an excerpt from Mark Gregston at Heartlight Ministries:
"Parents do a wonderful job of teaching and encouraging a young son with uplifting words and rewards for participation in every activity.  You tell him he’s great, brag on him in conversations and post his photo in your Christmas cards. Then he turns 15, and things begin to look a little different.
Life for a 15-year-old boy can be a tough time, and even more difficult when parents begin making greater demands that force him to begin taking more and more responsibility for himself.
Suddenly, it seems, he does have the weight of the world on his shoulders. Classes get harder. The pond he swims in just got bigger and he just got smaller.  His social world gets divided and distributed. He’s too old to ride a bike and too young to drive a car.  The lessons you taught him are harder to apply than first thought.  Your son’s sporting accomplishments are dissipated into an overwhelming number of other 15-year-old boys who have accomplished the same, and perhaps more.  Girlfriends move on to older guys.
You might begin to see that the pain of growing up makes your teenage son behave more selfishly.  It might make him angry because he’s getting less of what he wanted in life, and more of what he didn’t want.  He may take to “spewing” at you because there is no one else who’ll take it.  He hurts because it’s harder than he thought.  Sometimes boys retreat to a virtual world of games, hide in their room, or just crawl inside their own depression.  They may associate with a new group of kids that look like “losers” because they find that those losers feel the same way.
They might feel stuck, frustrated, and begin to lose motivation.  They might begin to use words that you only see on public bathroom walls.  They might express themselves in ways you would have never expected.  It’s a tough time.  But it’s the right time for you to help them through it so you aren’t left dealing with a prodigal at 18 or 25."
Reading this gives me hope that "this too shall pass."  Many others have walked this path before me and have come out on the other end with wonderful relationships with their adult sons.  I'm hoping it doesn't take 2 more years before I can say the same.  But if it does, it still doesn't change how much I love this boy (young man) with all my heart and soul.  
Happy Sweet Sixteen, Quinn!!!  I look forward to spending today celebrating the gift of you.