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Getting Along With Your Parents
Exodus 20: 12
Regardless of how you would rate your parents on a scale from one to ten, your parents play
a very important role in the way you view yourself.
Parenting is not easy.
Parenting is scary and difficult.
But if you would like to get along better with your parents, let me share a few ideas why I think
parents act the way they do.
Nobody sent your parents to school to study parenting.
You are probably their first family.
Sure, they were raised in a family, but there is a major difference between being a kid in a family
and being a dad or mom.
It took me over 23 years to prepare for the ministry.
I did not have one single class on parenting.
Most of us, as parents, learn by trial and error.
The first child comes along and we are very conscientious.
We have learned a lot.
Then the second one comes along, and the second one has the gall to be different.
Every parent is in the process of being a parent.
There are times when they are confident.
There are other times when they doubt.
There are times when your parents are running scared.
Your parents may never tell you this directly, but there are times when they are running scared
when it comes to raising you.
They know how easy it is for you to really blow it.
They probably made some pretty silly mistakes when they were your age -- we all have!
I honestly believe that most parents mean well.
Sometimes, they just overcompensated for their own failures or family background.
The majority of parents tend to be overprotective.
I believe this is because they know what could happen to you.
When you think they don't understand, it may well be that they understand too much.
Parents are in the protection business.
Do you realize that by the time you are 18 years old you represent an investment of over $200,000 or more.
Not many parents think that way, but your parents have invested their life, their energy,
their time, emotions, and finances in you.
When your parents go out on a social occasion, who do you think they talk about?
They talk about you.
Parents often express their care and concern in overprotective ways.
If you think that you can change your parents overnight in this regard -- forget it.
When you were born, they started protecting you.
And just because you are now a teenager doesn't mean that they can stop cold turkey.
The transition for them is very difficult.
The best way for you to help them change is to be patient and earn their trust!
Parents are often going through their own identity crisis.
If you are a normal teenager you probably have had a typical teenage identity crisis a few times.
After all, that's kind of what the teenage years are all about.
Then don't think for a moment an identity crisis will magically go away in adulthood.
Your parents may also at times have a major attack of an identity crisis.
Parents are not much different than you when it comes to a search for identity,
except that your parents have you as a responsibility, and they sometimes fake it better.
Learning a little more about why your parents act the way they do won't always help problems
to be solved immediately, but perhaps it will help you communicate in a more informed manner.
There are five common complaints that many teenagers have about their parents.
My parents don't trust me.
My parents don't love me.
My parents don't listen to me.
My parents pick on me.
My parents are hypocrites.
These complaints, to a degree, may all be true.
When you were very young, there wasn't a whole lot you could do about your parents problems,
but as you move from childhood to adulthood, some of the burden of having a good relationship
now rest on your shoulders.
Here are some principles to help you get along better with your parents.
Honor and obey them.
No one has to be a Bible scholar to know that the Bible commands us to honor and obey our parents.
Of the ten Commandments it is the only one with a promise.
"Honor (obey) your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land
the Lord your God is giving you." (Exodus 20: 12)
I truly believe that if we make a conscious choice to honor and obey our parents,
we will be much happier in the long run.
It is a proven fact that people who are happier (and not in any major conflicts) with loved ones
tend to live longer and more successful lives.
It sure will be a happier life.
That Scripture written thousands of years ago is still true today.
You may be asking, but what if my parents are absolutely wrong?
As long as it is not harming your walk with God, honor them.
Obey them, even if you disagree with them, at least you will earn their trust.
Does it mean you should never have a disagreement?
The best of families have their hassles and disagreements.
It does mean that you should choose your battles wisely.
Every single issue isn't worth going to war over.
I would suggest that you consider the long-term results.
Most teenagers want more freedom from their parents.
I can understand that, so did I.
And you need it, and you should have it.
The way to gain more freedom from your parents is to gain their trust.
If you want their trust, avoid all sneakiness.
When parents sees sneakiness, they imagine that you're doing more than you're actually doing.
They operate on the basis of "where there's smoke, there's usually fire."
Parents believe if their children are being sneaky -- they can't be trusted.
I heard of a poster that had a picture of a little boy with a guilty look on his face.
It appeared that he had just been caught doing something wrong.
The caption read,
"When I'm good, I'm good.
When I'm not, I'm human."
No one expects you to be perfect.
If your parent's expectations are somewhere to the right of perfection, yet they are wrong.
Here is the best thing you can do when you mess up -- take responsibility for your actions.
You may not understand this yet, but the odds are great that your parents feel that they are
sacrificing their life to give you a better one, and they probably are.
We tend to take for granted the people who give us the most.
So if you want a better relationship with your parents, don't forget to express your gratitude.
When was the last time you thanked them for all their effort and input in your life?
How do you feel when you go all out for someone and they don't even seem to appreciate it.
If you haven't told your parents you love and appreciate them, now is the best time to do it.
Try to walk in your parent's shoes.
By this time you may be thinking -- hey, give me a break.
Quit focusing on my parent's needs.
I can honestly tell you when I talk with your parents, I am your greatest advocate.
So what I'm saying is really for you.
And I truly believe that one of the greatest factors in achieving a happy family and a better self-image
is for you to attempt to understand what struggles your parents are going through.
And I suspect that sometimes teenagers don't want to know because it puts responsibilities back on them.
Your parents wrestle with many of the same issues that you do.
I wouldn't be surprised that if you have a low self-esteem, so does your mother and your father.
Your family life will be better when you understand where they are coming from.
Sometimes, they are burnt-out from their work and other pressures.
They say the wrong things and take the wrong actions just as you do at times.
Your parents might not express to you all the loved you need, the but then they probably
don't receive all the loved they needed from their parents.
Does this always justify their actions?
Does it help you to understand what family dynamics are taking place?
Maybe you will need to lower your expectations of your parents.
When I was a child I thought my folks were perfect.
Literally, in my mind, I thought they could do no wrong.
Then as I grew older, I began to see some of their weaknesses.
When I began to see some of their weaknesses, my first reaction was anger and hurt.
My heroes, whom I had put on a pedestal, were falling off that pedestal.
So the experience of removing them from perfection helped me begin to take more responsibility
for my own happiness and my own life, and not blame my parents.
After all, they are just as human as we are.
Are your parents acting a certain way toward you because of their own relationship struggles?
What are the financial pressures on your parents?
Where do you see as the major stress areas in their lives?
When you walk in their shoes, it doesn't make the problems disappear.
But it does give you a better understanding of why they act and react the way they do.
Let me ask you three questions to make sure that you are applying these principles in your life.
What problems and pressures are your parents having right now?
How are these issues affecting their relationship with you?
What can you do to help your parents?
The key is communication.
You can never quit working on the communication process.
If you stop working at it, the relationship will deteriorate rapidly.
Understandably, one of the other reasons your parents sometimes run scared is that they know
how difficult it is to talk to you.
Good communication is complicated by the fact that you and your parents are from different generations
with a host of different interests.
Perhaps, they were from families who didn't communicate very well, and now, years later,
some crummy habits and patterns have been formed.
We can't do very much about the past, but we definitely can make a difference in the future.
Initiate the conversation.
One of the major complaints of parents is that "my kids don't talk to me."
Share your feelings, your hurts, your joys, and your dreams.
If they don't respond the way you wish they would, then later, tell them your feelings.
If you feel it is a one-way conversation, then persevere.
If you must, take the lead when it comes to communication.
Spend time with your parents.
Long after your friends from school have come and gone -- you will still have your parents.
Your friends now will probably not even be around later, but your parents will be vital to you
the rest of your life.
You are extremely important to them, even if they don't know how to express it.
As you grow older, they are afraid that you will not want to spend time with them anymore.
Do something together with mom and/or dad.
Spend time with them.
Don't wait for your parents to ask.
Ask them when are you going to spend some time together.
God gave you your parents.
They are not perfect.
No one ever promised you perfect parents.
The Bible is very clear about God having a part in your very creation.
Here is what David said in Psalm 139: 13-16: "For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
I believe you were placed in your family for a reason.
God has a distinct plan for you.
Your parents are God's special gift to you.
Don't fight it!
Accept the fact that they are and always will be your parents.
So do everything you possibly can to keep the relationship growing and positive.
You do have this responsibility.
With time, energy, love, and a lot of work -- and with God's help, you will find that your relationship
with your parents will be worth it.
When your relationship with God is right, and when your relationship with your parents is right,
and their relationship with you is right, you will have a better world in which to live.
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at firstname.lastname@example.org