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.

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