“Stay away from the drama!” This is a phrase that I jokingly started to use as I carted a group of middle school girls to school a few times a week (back when we actually took our kids to a school). I would hear stories of who did what, who was mad at whom, and all of the drama that encircled this group of girls. I was hoping to encourage them to stay away from the emotional immaturity that can easily reel us all in.
If I’m honest, I can occasionally revert to my “teenage brain” and engage in my own sort of drama. Someone can say something or do something that gets under my skin and I can quickly go down a trail in my brain that doesn’t look pretty. This can happen at work, at home, or with others I interact with. As a parent, this can happen quickly and often as I attempt to navigate life at home with kids who reel me in because of what they say or do.
As I’ve talked to kids and young adults over the years, so many of them are incredibly disappointed in their parents’ ability to consistently “be the adult.” One college student shared in a focus group, “Unfortunately parents aren’t relationally mature.” It seemed as if she was talking about not only her own parents, but her friends’ parents as well. As a parent, this is incredibly hard to hear. As adults, we must work hard to not slip into the immature drama that can so deeply plague relationships. Kids are looking for stability in so many ways, and we have the opportunity to provide the solid foundation they desperately seek. I can remember being told to “act your age” by adults who had no ability to do the same.
As parents, I would encourage you to do everything you can to stay away from petty squabbles, arguments, and disagreements with your kids. We obviously have to deal with everyday situations and decisions, but our interactions don’t have to devolve into painful drama. If we can be consistent with our discipline, maintain close relationships with our kids, and work to be emotionally stable in the difficult moments, our kids will see a healthy model of what we are hoping they will grow into.
As we deal with other adults in our life, we need to remember that our kids are watching. How often do I voice my petty thoughts and draw my kids into my adult drama? Do I voice my complaints and struggles with my spouse or family members to my kids? If I have issues with friends, is it helpful to talk about those issues in front of (or with) my kids? Most often not. We want to be real and authentic with our kids, but there may be times when not knowing may be better for them in the long run. We can be authentic in sharing about our struggles without those struggles playing out in front of our kids.
If we can model what it means to be emotionally stable and healthy, maybe our kids will have the chance to do the same. We can give them confidence in their relationships with us as well as build up their abilities to work through the many struggles and situations that will come their way. If they see us putting our faith and trust in God while demonstrating a maturity that comes from Him, they just might believe that they have the capacity to live the same way.