A child goes through many stages of growth: the “terrible twos”; the “trying threes.” Then your child finally begins school, starts making friends and learning new things, and develops a stronger personality. This new personality can be the source of much amusement and pride but also great frustration.
Parents pray for that perfect child—sometimes for years—and thank God every day for them. Still, there are days when our children prove that God has a sense of humor, and we imagine that when we prayed to have a baby, He said, “Oh yes, have I got the child for you!”
The Tiny Teen
Small children can behave like teenagers, despite their actual age. Trying to work with the moods, behaviors, attitudes, and opinions of these tiny teens sometimes feels like trying to navigate a minefield. Explosions may happen, but we have no idea when, where, or to what extent the fallout will be.
We have to set godly examples and boundaries for our children so they will grow up to be responsible, well-rounded adults who can then similarly raise their children someday.
As a parent of one such tiny teenager, I spend my days going back and forth between experiencing amazement at the things my child knows, pride when she asks me questions and seeks my knowledge, and complete frustration when nothing I say or do is right. Some days it’s hugs and kisses and “I love you, Mommy”; other days (or sometimes within the same day or hour) it’s eye rolls, sarcasm, and tearful meltdowns.
The Bible instructs us to “train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6, KJV). I believe this wholeheartedly. We have to set godly examples and boundaries for our children so they will grow up to be responsible, well-rounded adults who can then similarly raise their children someday. But when we are fully in the throes of a tiny-teenager meltdown, it's hard to remember all these wonderful parenting techniques when what you want to do is something that might alarm Child Protection Services!
One of my favorite quotes for parents is: “Parenting isn’t a practice; it’s a daily learning experience.”* It’s important to take each day as it comes. Don’t box yourself in with a set of hard and fast parenting rules when raising your tiny teenager, because you may find yourself either in tears or feeling like a failure. Rather, now—and every day in your journey as a parent—rely on God to give you the wisdom to know how to raise your child effectively.
Bringing up a tiny teenager is a wonderful, eye-opening experience. Let’s commit to listening to God’s whisper, be flexible whenever appropriate, and hang on tight to Jesus and our little one as we take the ride.
Ashley Clark writes from her hometown of Mobile, Alabama, where she lives with her daughter.