“Never embarrass a teenager!”
Those words framed my code of conduct while raising teenage girls.
Teenagers are in a fragile season of life. They’re building an identity and finding their place, discovering who they are and where they belong in the world.
As a result, they’re hyper-vigilant about what others think about them. I haven’t met a teenager yet who―regardless of how flippant she appears―doesn’t value the respect of her peers.
Instinctively, I knew as a parent that embarrassing one of my girls would more than likely result in rebellion. Not against my rules, but against me. After all, they trusted me to guard what they treasured most at that time―their place among their peers.
That’s why, at times, I chose to back down. In other words, when it came to reprimanding my daughters in front of their friends, classmates, or teammates, I chose grace.
I never backed down from what was right. No amount of peer pressure would convince me to stop teaching my teenagers how to behave properly. But without the kind of grace love requires, teenagers won’t hear us when we talk to them about what really matters. “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).
When embarrassment is inevitable, love backs down.
At least for the moment.
Temporarily backing down doesn’t mean letting go of what’s right. Instruction can and should follow. But sparing our teenagers embarrassment during one of the most precarious seasons of their lives is, for them, the language of love.
How can you speak this love language to your teenager today?