What can parents learn from their children? I’ll tell you. For starters, I used to hate country music. I assumed it was all songs about guys who like to drink and pick up women and women who are mad at men who cheated. But my teen daughter loves country music. She’d tell me there’s much more to it—that I need to listen to artists like Taylor Swift and Darius Rucker. And I’d roll my eyes and say something snarky in a fake southern accent (Classy, I know.). But one day she convinced me to watch a Taylor Swift documentary. And I did, begrudgingly. But 90 minutes later, I had to come to terms with the undeniable truth: My daughter was right.
One of the most frustrating parts of parenting teens is how teens think they know everything. Equally frustrating is the fact that they are convinced that parents know nothing. The combination of these two realities makes it really difficult to admit that sometimes, teens really do teach us things. So again I ask: What can parents learn from their children? A lot. And yeah, they can teach us about TikTok or why Harry Styles wears a boa. But they can also teach us genuinely useful things that can be a real gift if we’re willing to learn. Here are 3 of them.
1. What has worked won’t always work.
We tend to get comfortable with the way things have always been. But of course, as time goes by, we need to be willing to adapt. Our teens are often early adopters of technology, trends, and ideas. There are certainly shortcomings to this, as not everything new is good. But it also creates a natural opportunity for us to learn. This could be as simple as learning how to use new technology or as complex as considering an idea you’d never thought of before. Again, discernment is key, but so is flexibility. What can parents learn from their children? We can learn to adapt.
2. Your work isn’t finished.When raising teenagers, whatever issues we have not dealt with in our lives inevitably surface in theirs.
When raising teenagers, whatever issues we have not dealt with in our lives inevitably surface in theirs. When my teen son flies off the handle because he doesn’t know how to express his emotions, I’m challenged to reflect on my own tendency to respond to situations in anger. When I can’t understand why my teen daughter cares so much about what other people think, I stop and think about my own struggles with people-pleasing. What can parents learn from their children? While we certainly are not responsible for all their behaviors, many of their weaknesses reflect areas that require growth in our own lives.
3. Wisdom trumps knowledge.
Let’s face it—your teenager probably knows more than you do. Teens have access to all the information in the world in the palms of their hands. Teens have way more time to catch up on what the latest drama is with the royal family, what is currently being debated in Congress, and obscure stats. But you know what teens don’t have? Teens don’t have as much wisdom as parents do. As we parent our teens, we quickly learn that we don’t have to be the smartest person in the room (because we often aren’t) and that wisdom is something we don’t find in a Google search. And wisdom, as the proverb says, is more precious than rubies.
Sound off: What is something you’ve learned from your teen?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is something you know that you wish I knew, too?”