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The importance of life perspective in the teenage years

By Stephen C. Schultz


The chalk dust was scratching my throat as I spontaneously coughed. It's one of those things that inevitably happens when using chalk and an eraser. It was Sunday and I was preparing to teach a Sunday School lesson on Faith.



I was writing a few things on the chalk board when my 15 year old daughter walked in the classroom. As with most teenagers, she strolled over to where I was and said;

"I have a hard time seeing you as a teacher."

In her fifteen year old way of communicating, she was basically saying;

"Teachers are revered fountains of knowledge and understanding...I live with you and you are not that!"

I just smiled and said;

"Your old man just might surprise you."

She went on to sigh under her breath and roll her eyes. We were standing at the edge of a piano and as she leaned across the top, she started to laugh a bit. I asked what she was thinking and she mentioned with a qualifying tone;

"I don't mean this to be mean or anything...but I was thinking...and you know...sometimes I feel pretty old, but then I'm around you and grandma and grandpa and I realize I'm not that old."

With an uncomfortable smile, she continues;

"I'm sorry...I really don't mean this to be mean...not that you're that old or anything, but I realize I have a lot of years left to live."

At this point I just smiled at her. I mentioned she was right and had a good life ahead of her. I also mentioned that yes, I was no spring chicken anymore.

People started walking into the classroom and she said goodbye and went to the class with her age group.

Later in the day I was thinking about this father-daughter exchange. It made me smile as I thought about those awkward teenage years. I was also pleased at her thought process and the fact she was not caught up in the standard "Center of the Universe" mentality that plagues so many youth today. She was gaining a perspective of life and how her relationship to others mattered.

As her father, I recognize she is in a constant battle with media messaging on everything from fashion to body type to music to teen relationships. Things certainly aren't perfect...for me or her. At least we're headed in the right direction.

Here are a few other experiences I have had with my daughter Emma:

A diagnosis is not a label. Building resilience!

The Pizza Caper

Connecting Generations

Bob The Worm

Sugar and Spice

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