Hard Things

Oct 7, 2009

In 2008, 18-year-olds Alex and Brett Harris released a book called Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations. It gave a glimpse of what could happen when teens press against the cultural lies that limit their potential. The result is a movement of teenagers determined to rebel against the low expectations of those who assume the worst of adolescents.

I like this. Both the book and the companion website impresses me. After all, the current of teen culture is swift and treacherous. It’s takes more than a dose of courage to stand against the flow and make it safely to the other side. Some would say it takes a miracle. Yet two proved it was possible. AND dared to go public with it.

I have three teenagers and hang out with several others. Daily I watch them fight against a culture that wants to corrode what they believe. I know it’s tough. I see them struggle and sometimes I see them fail. But do you want to know what frustrates me more than anything else? Parents who aren’t willing do the hard things themselves.

It’s not just the teens who are being caught up in the popular current, though they typically take the rap for it. I see parents doing it ALL. THE. TIME. Very few are willing to say “NO.” Whether they’re afraid to be the only naysayers in a group of cool parents, reluctant to rock the boat, or simply just too tired of fighting the current, they look the other way and permit what should never be permissible.

Sometimes I want to scream, “Wake up! Who’s the parent here?!?!” Pushover parents aren’t doing anyone any favors by caving on their convictions left and right. I talk to these kids, and so many of them wish someone would care enough to make them stop. To be fair, I completely understand the parent’s internal struggle: I want my kids to like me, AND I like it when peace rules my house. But at what cost?

Kids aren’t a hobby; they’re a responsibility. And that means it’s going to be more work than fun at times. Do me a favor, would you? Don’t ask them to do the hard things until you’re ready to do some hard things yourself. Go ahead — I’m giving you carte blanche permission to be the uncool, un-fun parent when the circumstance calls for it.

What say you?


  1. Ashleigh

    Funny how we talked about this on our walk… How in high school I was so frustrated my parents were so hard on me yet I’ve been in college about 2 months and I already appreciate them choosing to be hard on me. I wouldn’t have learned the lessons I needed to succeed later had we not had a fight or 2 (or 100) about various things. Of course as kids we don’t like our parents having rules that other parents don’t have, but I look at my friends who didn’t have those rules and watch them struggle to figure out life on their own. It’s totally worth it to be hard on kids, your actually doing them a favor in the end… And you aren’t supposed to be their friends.. They need stable consistant parents more than a friend from you. 🙂

    By the way Michele, You are a parent that puts a ton of effort in making your kids be the best they can be. And you are still cool… (Well, sometimes…) Just kidding. 🙂

  2. Sarah Beckman

    You hit the nail on the head! I agree – many issues like dating, sports, technology all come under the microscope and it seems like the parents want to be “cool” or identify themselves that way based on their kids’ status! yikes. it is a hard world out there. Loved hearing about the rebelution too. thanks for the great post.

  3. Jerolyn

    Wow Michele, you are so right on. I’d like to print this off and read it to a few parents and keep it visiable for me to read on a frequent basis.

  4. Michele

    Thanks, Ash. I think. 😉 I’m so proud of you and the maturity I continue to see in you again and again. You are doing hard things. And it shows.

  5. Tonya

    Being a parent of two teenagers, I can say that it is soo hard to go against the grain. We are stricter than most. Our kids don’t understand why we say no more than most. And this in a church and mostly homeschooled environment that we deal with this pressure. I couldn’t imagine what it is like without Christ in the picture at all.

    Great post!

  6. Ashleigh

    That was definitely a compliment silly, just had to add a little of my signature sarcasm. 🙂 One of the fun things my parents did give me.

    Keep your head up. You are a great mom. Your kids love and respect you and talk about you like you are the most amazing mom ever. I know it’s hard for you to see them hurt, and make bad decisions, and it’s hard to tell them no when their friend’s parents are saying yes to everything. But know that the pain you go through will pay off later. When your kids can succeed in life later they will appreciate you being hard on them and teaching them how to do the hard things.

    I wouldn’t be doing the hard things if it weren’t for my parents doing the hard things for my benefit. So thanks for that compliment, however I owe it to my mommy and daddy. 🙂

    (And I am seriously done posting these crazy long comments on your blog… Sorry! Haha)


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