It is easy to confuse the absolutes of life with personal preferences. Because of this it is also easy to make relationships with others, particularly our teenagers, more difficult than they need to be. For example, take driving on the right side of the road. This is, of course, the right way to drive; unless you happen to be in the United Kingdom. Here, as you know, they drive on the left side of the road, the “wrong” side of the road. But is it really the wrong side? While is against the law to drive on the left side of the road in the United States, it turns out that this law is actually a national preference rather than a moral absolute. In the UK they have chosen to drive on a different side–to me, the wrong side. But, why is it wrong? It feels wrong to me because it is different.
Here is the point–being different is not necessarily wrong. Many of the squabbles that parents have with teenagers have to do with things that are different. When squabbles happen, it is important to take the time to determine if what is different is also wrong. The Bible has much to say about preferring others above ourselves. This includes the area of differences in lifestyles and choices. While it would clearly be wrong (and dangerous!) to begin driving on the left side of the road in the US, it is the right thing to do in the UK. So, saying that they are driving on the wrong side of the road does not help me have good relations with folks in the UK. Their choice to drive differently is not morally wrong. It is just different.
Conflict may arise because of similar judgmental thoughts in our homes. A particular behavior or style of music may be different, and it may not even be wise in a particular home. But this does not mean it is always wrong and should always be avoided. To be sure, there are activities that are always wrong. But to treat things that are different as though they are morally wrong just because they are different is not a healthy way to build relationships with your teenagers. Give some thought to distinguishing being different from being wrong. It can help you and your teenagers address issues in ways that are more peaceful and productive.
As a postscript–another difference in the UK is the electrical connections. It turns out that I had bought a converter to run my laptop that was not the right wattage. Unfortunately, it took several days to diagnose the problem, which is the reason for the lack of posts of late. However, we have the correct converter for my computer and things are back to normal. I look forward to more posts about our trip to the UK.