I have heard my very wise Mother-in-love say on more than one occasion that we should not label the "Terrible 2's" as terrible. Our children live up to our expectations. So, if we expect, dread, bemoan the age of 2 to be terrible...then our children will live up to our expectations, and give us something to dread and bemoan. She would say not to dread that time, but to make it a sweet time of learning, growing, and training. So, we took her advice, and we did just that.
Of course...there were days during that time, that were, well...terrible. But, there were also terrible days in the 3's and 4's and 5's...you get the picture. BUT, those days were definitely not the norm. They were the exceptions.
Now that we are through that for the most part, we come to a new phase in our lives. We have a teenager. And another very soon to be teenager. We choose to take the same approach to teenagers as we did the "Terrible 2's". We know that the "stigma" that comes with teenagers is that they are lazy, self absorbed and emotional. But we choose to work together to beat the "stigma". We talk to our kids. We tell them that maybe that is the norm, but we expect them to be above the norm. We will not allow them to be lazy, self absorbed and emotional. Now, will there be days of lazy, self absorbed and emotional...yes. I am sure there will be. But those are the days where we point out what is going on and work on changing the attitudes together.
We feel that the most important thing is for our children to grow in their love for the Lord and others. So as they approach their teen years, we want to give them ample opportunities to do both. We have them involved in their Christian school, and in our church. We encourage them to serve others every chance they get. They have gone with us each time we have had an opportunity to help with the tornado victims. We limit their television time, and video game time (we do not have the latest and greatest video game system on purpose). We encourage them to daily spend time alone with the Lord - reading their Bibles and praying, help out around the house, play board games, and read books (and yes, they are allowed to watch television and play video games for limited times). We do not want them to lay around all summer, so we do not let that even be an option. We are not slave drivers. But we do want our children to know and appreciate the value of hard work, and a job well done.
I recently read a book by Alex and Brett Harris called Do Hard Things. I would recommend that every parent of a teenager read this book, and that every teen read it as well. It is an excellent eye opening book that explains how society looks at teens, and the truth of what totally surrendered teens can do. It made me excited about having not just one, but two teens in my home. I am excited about the next few years and what God is going to do in the lives of our energetic, fun loving, serving children.
So, I guess I said all of that to say...no matter if you are the parent of a 2 year old, or a teenager...expect great things from your children. Encourage, love, teach and train them to be excellent young people for God's glory. Don't dread the next stage of life...look forward to it and enjoy it to it's fullest...because before you know it, that stage is over and it's on to the next one. I want to have precious memories of all the stages of my children's lives, and I know you do too!