When Hurricane Charley hit our community in 2004, our family secured our home the best we could, locked ourselves inside and prayed for God to spare us.
After the storm had passed, our house was still standing. I thanked God that we had survived.
Then we walked outside. It was as if we had walked out into a war zone. The destruction was so widespread and complete that I could hardly comprehend it.
I had hidden, but I had not been untouched. The destruction raged on outside.
When the hurricane of teenage hormones hit my house a few years ago, I had a similar response. My first instinct was to run for shelter. To wait out the storm. To simply hide in a closet until the winds died down.
But then I realized that even if I feel I’ve found a safe emotional hiding place, I am not really safe — and neither are my teenagers. The damage, the assaults are still occurring. And when I emerge from the teen years, I might find that the destruction is overwhelming.
We have no control over the winds of nature. But despite what we might think, we do have some control over how the storm of the teen years affects our children and our relationship with them.
The storm is not personal. Just like Hurricane Charley didn’t purposely target our neighborhood, the storm of adolescence is not a personal attack on us. When we bring our own hurt, stinging emotions into the teenage drama hurricane, we are setting ourselves up for true disaster.
So what do we do? Well, I can tell you a few things that are helping me to fight the storm, instead of simply wait it out:
Keep setting boundaries. Just like the winds of a storm, teenagers will keep pushing and raging against your rules and standards. They. won’t. let. up. We have to be the beacon in the storm. The one thing that is unmoveable. Because their minds and lives are a whirlwind. They need you to be the calm, steady presence in the storm.
Don’t get comfortable. During the eye of the hurricane, there is an eerie calm. It’s tempting to believe that the storm is over. But, of course, it is not. It is just a brief reprieve until the next round of devastating winds. As we parent our teens, we often experience periods of relative calm. We may think the storm is over. It very well may not be. We have to always be on our guard and continue to be vigilant.
Show up — everyday. After the storm, the Red Cross would show up every day. They would brave the destruction and the obstacles and deliver what we needed to survive and thrive again. We have to do the same thing. I call it “jumping into the shark tank.” Showing our teens love and consistency, spending time and investing in them — even when they are being rotten — is one of the main things they need to survive and thrive during these years.
Yes, the storm of adolescence will pass — eventually. How we handle it can result in mere survival — or a stronger foundation.