Farewell to Mama Bear.

Most young parents relate to Mama Bear's example of strong parenting. She justifies the surge of anger we feel when a car zooms down the block where our little cubs are playing. When we yank a toddler away from a hot stove or jolt from our sleep because something feels not right, Mama Bear makes sense to us.

Here’s the trouble: just as her babies gain some independence, Mama Bear goes to sleep. She hibernates and so do we. Mama Bear is a crummy role model for the parents of teenagers, even though we share her instinct to close our tired eyes. As my children and their friends became adolescents, I noticed something strange: the very same parents who once hovered and helicoptered around their little ones tended to check out, in various ways, as the kids got older. It is understandable. Just as our children can feed themselves and use fabric softener and maybe even change a tire, they develop wicked strategies to convince us they don’t need us anymore. It is tempting to believe them. We are exhausted. We are struggling to get some semblance of our groove back.

I promise you, our teenagers need us. They need us in different, ever-changing ways and they will reject everything we do for them (because it’s their job). We cannot go to sleep. Our adolescents are worth saving; we need to wake up and say goodbye to Mama Bear and find some better role models for ourselves.

It is a beautiful mystery how many of my former students are now doing wonderfully well, regardless of the quality of the parenting they received. The human spirit is invincible; we thrive in rocky soil; we all shine on (like the moon and the stars and the sun). I do believe, however, that parents can make a difference. I believe we have the power to give our children a strong foundation and a view of the world which can help them become the best versions of themselves. Surely we can strive to do no harm to the miracle-people we brought into the world.

We Live in Hope.

In my talks, workshops, blog and book, I present some new role models for parenting teenagers. I will remind you often to check balance on the high-wire of raising a family. I will remind you how often we must make split decisions and practice super-human discernment. I will remind you to stay vigilant. I will remind you to laugh. When we work hard to know, to protect and to honor our teenagers, we can help pave their way to responsible adulthood.

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