Parenting Tip: Be Willing to Wait Ten Years for the Thanks!

Lisa Cherry —  August 29, 2011

By Lisa Cherry

Parenting teens is sometimes a rather messy job.  Loving your 14-year-old often involves an eclectic mixture of wanderings through the mall to find the perfect pair of jeans only to return home empty-handed because none in the whole mall “fit;” loud trips to accompany a carload of loud teenage boys to a loud local Christian concert; weepy late night “counseling sessions” to sort out the latest friend conflict…all sweetly interspersed with dozens and dozens of NO’s.  All around America these types of lines are heard....

No, you won’t be going to see that PG-13 movie with your friends.

No, we will not be piercing that part of your body even if all your other teammates are.

No, we will not be allowing unlimited internet access in this house even thought the filter system is inconvenient.

No, you may not go to that party without any adult supervision.

No. No. No.

Seems like some days that is our main job as parents—providing the screening system that filters out the immaturities and ill-conceived ideas of our remarkable and creative teens.  Over the years I have often asked myself, will I ever see any benefit to all these careful years of parenting where I am the big, bad Mama?

Fellow parents, I have great news!  There is hope for light at the end of the tunnel!

In August I celebrated the momentous (though slightly painful) landmark of 50 years.  I received one of my best birthday presents of all time from Kalyn.  It was a little box marked “50 Thanks…Happy Birthday Mom,” and it contained an amazing treasure: 50 small pieces of paper each marked with an expression thanks for my mothering.

Some brought me to tears as I reflected on her little girl days.  But right there in the midst of the stack were a few that I would have paid big money to be able to look ahead and know I would one day see.

“Thanks for sticking to the rules and teaching me to do the same.”

“Thanks for telling me the truth.”

“Thanks for having patience with me even in my ‘fit of rage’ stage!”

I think I get it now!  The parenting tip of today:   Be the ADULT who is patient to wait 10 years for a “thank you.”  Not that Kalyn hasn’t been extremely grateful for several years already.  But some parts of our job require a new form of delayed gratification.

I needed that little box as a reminder.  Not so much in my relationship with Kalyn.  She is already through!  I needed it for my four teens and two tweens who need me to be the mom who can wait in faith and patience, say “No”…and even with a smile!

  • Dawn

    Beautiful, inspirational and so true:)