I See You

Toddler girl wearing woolen knitted sweater with hood is sitting

“I see you.”

If you’ve taken a child to the playground, you have heard those three words spoken by parents countless times to their children. When my daughter was little, I shared that experience as she would climb to the top of a yellow plastic slide, stand up straight in her pink, blue and green coat, and yell, “look!” She would keep yelling, “look!” until I turned to face her and said, “I see you.” Once those words were spoken, she was satisfied and would go down the slide happily.

“I see you.”

While my daughter certainly wanted me to physically see her, after considering Pastor Emily’s sermon at First Presbyterian Maumee on Genesis 16 last week, I realized that seeing my daughter at the top of the slide wasn’t simply about sight. To my young daughter, those words were an affirming sign that she needed of my recognition, caring, security and, ultimately, love for her. They were a sign of a bond between the two of us that went beyond my simply acknowledging seeing what she was doing.

“I see you.”

As children grow into teenagers, like my daughter has, they stop yelling “look!” every time they figuratively climb the next slide but they still have the need and the desire for us, as parents, to see them. Unfortunately, like Hagar in Gen. 16, many of the times they need to be seen the most are when they are struggling or disappointed or hurting. As Hagar needed to be seen by God when she ran away from being mistreated, our teenagers need to be seen by us when they face difficulties to affirm the bond of love and recognition we provide. They need us to say:

“I see you.”

When you get a bad grade on the test.

“I see you.”

When your audition goes poorly.

“I see you.”

When you make a mistake on social media.

“I see you.”

When you don’t like the way you look.

“I see you.”

When you’ve been rejected by your friends.

While it is easy to see our children when they are young and yelling “look!”, it can become harder to see them as they grow and become teenagers. Often, they are harder to see because they may hide, both figuratively and literally.

If your teenager is hiding in some way, I encourage you to think of ways you can let them know you see them each week by being accessible to them. It could be in a brief conversation in the morning before school. It could be asking them a few questions about their day on the car ride to soccer or play practice. It could be taking them out for ice cream unexpectedly and enjoying a few moments together outside of the busyness of the week. Give them an opportunity to yell, “look!” once again from the top of the slide and tell them,

“I see you.”

 

 

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