I love art museums. My wife and I have gotten to visit some of the finest museums in the country. I feel peaceful and unhurried when I walk along the long hallways of giant paintings of masters from long ago. When I look at a classic painting I see definition, purpose and meaning. Whether its an etherial seascape or a couple of lovers with a longing look in their eyes, you know the artist knew what he (or she) was doing. That is until you walk into the modern art branch of the museum. Apologies to those more cultured than myself, but it always looks like some threw up paint on a canvass. No matter how long I stand and look at it, I only feel more confused and frustrated.

Doesn’t this sound like what happens to us as parents when our kids get to be around twelve or thirteen. For the longest time you got them. You understand their little quirks, what made them tick and how best to communicate with them. Then, seemingly overnight, they turned into an abstract Pollock painting. As they daily change their interests, friends and emotions, you find yourself just staring at them thinking, “I don’t get you.”

None of us wants to be the parent who panics when their formerly peaceful, well-behaved, affectionate 12-year-old hits adolescence and suddenly seems anxious, unpredictable, and standoffish. Hormones and attitudes trigger what can seem like a major personality shift in a teens life during puberty. However, according to Charles Boyd in Different Children, Different Needs, there may be a rational explanation for a child who begin acting out of sync with his typical personality makeup. In times of stress, a peaceful trait can become anxious and a well-behaved student can become unpredictable if they are unsuccessful in maneuvering through the stress successfully.

Don’t let the title (or cover) fool you, this book is great for families with children, but it’s even better for families whose children are entering the sometimes unnerving world of the teen years. Based on the well known DISC pattern for personality temperaments, the personality descriptions and tips Boyd lists are easy to understand and helpful for pinpointing common communication clashes parents and kids tend to find themselves in during the preteen and teen years.

Speaking into a stressful situation in a way your student can hear and relate to is key during the unpredictable teen years. Boyd gives helpful insights into each personality, but he also gives several practical scenarios for when one comes into conflict with another. For example, when a peace-loving slow-paced parent is paired with a risk-loving, fast-paced teen, Boyd helps pinpoint specific ways to avoid misunderstandings and to be affirming and supportive of how God has wired each one. Even when similar parent-teen personalities are linked together (imagine two high-strung, detail-oriented family members), things aren’t always harmonious. Boyd gives a number of useful ways to avoid the familiar pitfalls we find ourselves in when two strong personalities collide.

Over the years my wife and I have learned that even when it comes to issues of discipline, whether it is corrective discipline or self-discipline, we have to parent both of our children differently. To parent them both the same is to say, “I don’t value how God has made you.” It takes much more time and effort to parent them differently, but the reward is invaluable. To see both of our children grow into their own and feel comfortable in their own skin has been a great thing.

In parenting your own children according to who God has made them consider these areas. Be willing to take a step back, pray, and consider who they are before responding.

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  • The next time you get into a disagreement over school work.
  • When your children are fighting with each other.
  • The next time you want to spend personal time with one of them.
  • When you want to speak love into them.
  • The next time you know there is a form of punishment that you’ll have to deal with.


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