Love will keep us to­gether

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FAMILY -

a par­ent who loves too much to quit re­gains the love and trust of a way­ward son.

THE teenage years or ado­les­cence is the pe­riod when par­ents see the great­est change in their child’s be­hav­iour. They are try­ing to be­come in­di­vid­u­als in their own right, seek­ing to move out of their par­ents’ pro­tec­tive wings, and con­sider peer opin­ions more valu­able. They want free­dom; how­ever, par­ents want to con­trol them and pre­vent them from do­ing any­thing wrong.

As a par­ent, you have to learn to tackle them right. Most of us try to dic­tate terms to con­trol them. But this does not usu­ally help, as they are sure to rebel, and you will end up with a bat­tle­ground in your own home.

Both par­ents and teenagers would do much bet­ter if par­ents can keep their per­spec­tive. When par­ents and teens are get­ting along, fam­ily life can be won­der­ful. Teens re­ally are en­joy­able and en­er­gis­ing. Their wit and high spir­its make them fun to be around. But when par­ents and teens are at odds, the teenage propen­sity for sullen si­lence and re­jec­tion can be con­fus­ing and frus­trat­ing.

Teens and tweens do rebel in one way or an­other. When a client’s youngest son reached teenage­hood, the boy re­belled with a vengeance, do­ing every­thing his par­ents had for­bid­den him to. The boy seemed de­ter­mined to de­stroy his own rep­u­ta­tion, but his name was not the only one sul­lied.

As ru­mours of the teen’s aber­rant be­hav­iour swept through the com­mu­nity, his fa­ther saw his own rep­u­ta­tion plum­met. What kind of fam­ily would raise a kid like that? What had they done (or not done) to make him rebel? Why didn’t they do some­thing to make him stop?

Be­fore you jump to the con­clu­sion that this teenage boy may be from a sin­gle-par­ent fam­ily or a bro­ken home, in fact, the op­po­site is true. By any stan­dard, the boy’s fam­ily is con­sid­ered in­tact, warm and per­fectly func­tion­ing.

Through it all, this fa­ther per­se­vered, and the son’s ul­ti­mate turn­around be­came as le­gendary in his com­mu­nity as the ini­tial re­bel­lion. How did this par­ent pull it off? Though not in his ex­act words, the fol­low­ing was what I gleaned from his parenting jour­ney: > Don’t as­sign blame: Don’t be­come too in­tro­spec­tive. When teens rebel, the temp­ta­tion is to blame the par­ents, teach­ers or so­ci­ety. But as­sign­ing blame doesn’t help. Be­sides, of­ten there is no one to blame. Good par­ents can raise chil­dren who rebel. It hap­pens all the time. > Be firm: My client re­mained firm with his teen, forc­ing him to face the con­se­quences of his own de­ci­sions. “Don’t pay for dam­age that they need to re­store. Don’t re­plen­ish the funds that they mis­han­dle. Don’t tell lies to keep them from fac­ing the truth,” he said. I could feel the emo­tion in his words. It had not been easy for him to watch his child suf­fer. “Some­times pain is the best teacher. Stop the pain too quickly and you stop the learn­ing.” > Never stop lov­ing: The most im­pres­sive thing about this par­ent was his love for his way­ward teen, and the most im­pres­sive thing about his love was its tenac­ity. He never stopped lov­ing.

No mat­ter how badly the boy be­haved, his dad never stopped pulling for him, never lost faith in him, al­ways stood ready to meet him half­way. And one day, the boy took him up on it. He turned from his de­struc­tive be­hav­iour. He sought his fa­ther’s for­give­ness.

Some crit­i­cised the fa­ther for for­giv­ing too quickly and com­pletely. Af­ter all the hurt this boy had caused, he didn’t de­serve full restora­tion.

The fa­ther’s re­sponse to his crit­ics con­tains words we may be fa­mil­iar with. He sought ad­vice from the para­ble in the Bi­ble about the fa­ther and his prodi­gal son. This man’s words – orig­i­nally di­rected at the prodi­gal’s older brother – are sen­ti­ments ev­ery par­ent of a re­bel­lious teen hopes one day to voice: “We had to be merry and re­joice, for this brother of yours was dead and has be­gun to live, was lost and has been found.”

These are the words of a par­ent who loves too much to quit.

That day, in the coun­selling room, I, the ther­a­pist, be­came his stu­dent. I was re­minded of a quotable quote: “When love is with con­di­tions, it is no longer love but a mere trans­ac­tion. True love is with­out con­di­tions.” n Charis Pa­trick is a trainer and fam­ily life educator who is mar­ried with four chil­dren.

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