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It Wasn’t Raining When Noah Built the Ark
Edward A. Pane, LCSW, MBA, CAADA

Ed Pane

My Blog

     While this is directed to parents of younger children, I hope there is something in it for every mom and dad.

     Quite often I see or speak with parents who are at their wits end with their adolescent children. For certain, raising our children through their teenage years is the most challenging part of our job as parents.

     Under the best circumstances our teens will chafe at our authority and the limits we set. They will test the curfew and think it’s unfair if we don’t give them everything their friends have. They’re teens; testing limits is in their job description.

     But what I hear our pleas for help from parents who feel virtual prisoners in their own home. Their teen has become a tyrant. Younger siblings are afraid of them, but are also learning from them how much they might get away with some day.  From temper tantrums through throwing things and complete disrespect and disregard for any direction from us as parents, these teens run the house.

     The parents implore me to, “Please fix our kid so we can have some peace!” But I can’t just “fix their kid.” The foundation for the problems they are encountering was laid years earlier during their teen’s childhood.

     They were often indulged. Consequences were few and likely not consistent. They learned that temper tantrums would eventually wear mom and/or dad down and they would get what they wanted. They learned which parent they could manipulate more easily and which one was sterner. They tested curfews and tried cursing. And when there was no real consequence they learned they could get away with almost anything. Because the parents didn’t work together as a team the child was able to divide and conquer.

     And after years of this type of upbringing, viola! They have a spoiled brat who feels entitled to get whatever they want. 

     So, to you parents of younger children don’t wait for the storm to start before you begin building “the Ark” together. The Ark after all is really a big lifeboat. It’s your mutually agreed set of acceptable behaviors that includes both rewards and punishment when necessary. Your Ark includes rules for how everyone in the home contributes to its upkeep be that doing the dishes, laundry, putting toys away, finishing dinner before being allowed to play, prioritizing academics and more. Like Noah, you get to decide who comes on board, and that can mean who our children are permitted to associate with.

     We must all raise our children with a vision, a mental picture of the character and morality of who we want them to be by the time they are 17 or 18. It is after all the destination that tells the boat where it’s going and more importantly, where it won’t be going.

     As in all things that involve parenting, the single most critical factor is that the parents work together. The father may have his beliefs about what being a good parent involves; likewise the mother may have hers. What is important to understand is that neither have THE way of parenting. Working together they must create “Our way of parenting” which is the result of their mutual cooperation.

     When you construct your “Ark” early and together the family is in far better shape when the rain starts as it surely will, and when you encounter the choppy waters of adolescence that are unavoidable

*The title quote is from the writings of Howard Ruff