I wrote this blog post a year and a half ago on an old blog platform. I read through it to see if I could encourage myself in this new season. We have had a lot of loss in our world lately and my girls are feeling the weight of it heavy upon their hearts. We (my husband and I) are working like mad to support them through it. It feels so out of our skill set, but I am so thankful God is the one who supplies all our needs.
This encouraged me, maybe it will encourage you as well.
I feel like I am in a whirlwind. The kind where you just hold on to whatever you can in the moment to make sure you don’t get swept away. And sometimes you get swept away for a time and then you grasp for whatever you can catch a hold of and try to stay in that spot for a while until the next big gust comes and pulls you in a new direction.
Being a parent of teens is as rewarding as it is challenging.
It isn’t the way you see on sitcoms or dramas (not in my experience anyways). There isn’t some small issue to deal with, and everyone gets resolution in 23 minutes or less. There aren't always teachable moments and happy outcomes.
Things may be left unresolved.
You may not be able to agree.
It might look like your teen sneaking out at night, drinking or partying or breaking the law.
Or it might not.
It might be a kid who looks like they have it all together on the outside but inside they are hiding, covering, stuffing.
It is as unique an experience as your kids are uniquely created.
We took on a healthy attitude from the beginning, as my kids were heading into the teen years. My husband and I decided that it would be wise if we spoke life- about, and into our kids as we faced the hormone hurricane everyone said was coming. We told our kids to trust us even when it seemed like things were chaotic. We warned them of what the hormone spikes could do to their emotions. We also told them that their feelings, though valid, can’t always be trusted. We made sure lines of communication were left wide open and rewarded the hard conversations with love and acceptance and sometimes ice cream.
We were optimistic, which was wise. Because when the whirlwinds hit, it helps to have a positive frame of mind.
What we couldn’t anticipate was what those whirlwinds would bring with them and how alone we would feel at times, battling against it.
When your kids are small, it is socially acceptable and almost expected that you will talk with other parents about the issues you face. Sleep patterns, potty training, temper tantrums, sharing, boundaries, play dates and interaction with other kids, etc. You can ask other moms for advice. You can share on Facebook and ask for opinions. You can post pictures of your kids laying on the floor at Walmart and get a reassuring response from other parents who have “been there”.
The interesting part is that when you parent teens, you have a lot of these same battles to face. Sleep patterns (they want to stay up late and then not get up in the morning for school-or sleep all day and stay up all night-doing who knows what?), potty training takes on a whole new meaning (they may know how to use the bathroom but how do you get them to clean up after themselves in there…?), temper tantrums (yes they exist in teens only now they can leave the house and DRIVE AWAY angry), sharing (don’t expect those treats to be there when you get home because they had a hunger attack and so they just ate your treat without asking), boundaries-(no you can’t go into my room and take my clothes or my curling iron or my make up without asking! How many times do I have to say it!), and play dates are now actual dates and you have to teach them how to behave in those situations even though you are not there to supervise.
But we, as a parent of teens can’t just post on social media, or tell our friends about our daily frustrations because these kids are no longer kids. They are young adults.
I desire deeply to honour them and protect their hearts and cover their weaknesses. We are growing our relationship with them in ways that are new and unexplored. We are moving from “do as I say” to “please listen to my wisdom and advice”.
And you know, sometimes they do. (Praise Jesus for those moments!)
My kids are two out of the four MOST important people in my life. (First, being Jesus, then my amazing husband and then my girls.)
We have identified our main goals in parenting these kids in this season as:
1. Do what it takes to help them grow to love and cherish their relationship with Jesus
2. Cultivate relationship in such a way that we will have a great friendship with them when they are adults
These two points of focus really have helped us when it comes to parenting. There are some hills and battles that are not worth dying on. There are some that we will absolutely go to the mattresses regarding. (Godfather fans will get this one)
But at the end of the day, centering our lives on Jesus and letting that influence our pursuit of relationship with our teens is key to their success in life.
It is so easy to get dragged down and discouraged in the day in, day out challenges that we face. The hormones really make life unpredictable. What worked one day, doesn’t work the next. It often feels like it is hard to know what to say or how to say it, or when to push and when to let go.
There is this moment to moment tension in the heart of a parent of teens.
I find myself constantly asking God “What do I say to that!” or “How do I respond now?” or “Holy crow, I didn’t see that coming”, or “Jesus please speak to their hearts where I can’t” or “Help me not to mess this up!” or “Please let me react in a way that is building up and not tearing down!”.
The old school way of parenting was
“Do as I say!"
"This is my house!"
"My way or the highway!”.
How many of us had those parents? And yes, people will say we learned to be “respectful” and we learned to obey orders and we learned to move when they said move because if we didn’t we would sure feel it!
How many of us felt like we had a good relationship with those parents?
We need to know that Jesus doesn't parent that way.
He is patient and kind. He doesn’t keep a record of our wrongs, or hold things against us. He doesn’t force his will on us or make us do what he says.
He works first on relationship, with love and grace, and then we respond (slowly sometimes) to that relationship with our obedience.
So I may not be able to always share where we are struggling but this is my encouragement for myself (because I sometimes really need it!) and for you when you find yourself heading into the teen years with your kids.
Model your parenting after our Father in Heaven.
1. Love first.
2. Give grace first. Ask questions second. Give the benefit of the doubt!
3. Correct IN LOVE when needed.
4. A kind word and a gentle answer turns away wrath. Trust me on this one!
5. Be a good listener (even when you are desperate to teach or give your opinion-bite your tongue if you have to).
6. Don’t take things personally-God is working out stuff in their hearts and in ours-let Him.
7. Don’t just try and get your own way. Navigate yourself into the path of Jesus.
8. Always point them back to God so that they can learn to seek Him for themselves
9. TRUST JESUS ALWAYS. He loves them more than you do!
10. Pray. Without ceasing. Pray for your teens, pray over your teens, pray with your teens. Pray for wisdom and discernment. Pray for your spouse. Pray with your spouse for your kids and each other. JUST PRAY.
You can do this. And they will get through it and so will you as the parents.
Just keep seeking Jesus.