Maybe you have a better relationship with your other children — especially your “mini-me” (see Part 1) — but there’s one you just don’t understand. He’s as different from you as night is from day, and it’s a wonder he carries any of your genes. (Or maybe he’s actually adopted.)
There are some negative tendencies that parents have when dealing with a kid that’s different from them, and I’m sure many don’t realize they do them. But if you have a kid you just don’t ‘get,’ you might want to read on and find out if you might be leaning toward one of these extremes.
I’m pretty sure most parents would never make their kids feel left out on purpose — I mean, we ache to see other kids leave them out, don’t we?! I’ve heard many parents say things like, “I’m not sure where this one came from” or “He’s just not like the rest of us.”
Sometimes kids find their identity in being the “black sheep” of the family, but even then, they want to feel accepted and included. Hearing your recognition of his differences can make him feel isolated or even ostracized — yes, even if he says he likes being different and embraces his uniqueness.
If you don’t understand your child, become a student of him, asking him about what motivates his behavior that perplexes you, comparing him with other people you know, and celebrating his uniqueness as well as his special place in your family and gifts to the world.
Maybe your other children share your love of nature or artistic talent, while one child has contrasting preferences and talents. While it might take more effort on your part, it’s important to find ways to connect by entering into all your children’s worlds. That might mean trying something you wouldn’t otherwise try or spending time outdoors when you’d rather stay inside, but loving your kids was never about doing what you want to do, at their expense.
When you have other kids who like doing what you do, it may be easier to spend time with them and build a relationship. You can be thankful for that easy bridge while putting in extra effort to build a bridge to your other child, the one who needs you just as much.
Even (or especially!) if you’re trying to bridge the gap through finding common ground and keeping negative comments at bay, your nonverbal cues can speak volumes to your teen about your attitude toward him. Maybe you roll your eyes at his off-the-wall humor or grit your teeth as you’re enduring an activity together that you really don’t enjoy.
Teens pick up on these things easily, so if you’re not going to be able to do them with a supportive attitude, you might as well not do them at all. Now, I’m not encouraging you to be a hypocrite! But pray for God to give you a special love for your child and to even enjoy being with him, doing things he loves. As you make an effort, I’d be shocked if God didn’t soften your heart toward him.