We have a teenager in the house. Hold me. How did this happen? I find myself watching her and smiling. She is like the wise, comical Yoda of the family. If there was a kid you would want to introduce you to raising teenagers this girl would be that kid. She helps me to remember teenagers are human too.
“Just Wait Until They Are Teens!”
As a mother of many I have heard people offering words of warning into our parenting adventures.
One of my least favorite, but often repeated statements is, “Just wait until they are teenagers.” Seriously?. It is as if our children become zombies the day they turn 13. And like other parents we will be ill-equipped to navigate this stage of development. Doom! Doom! Doom to you!
Is this really the parenting phase which will break us completely and irreparably? I am not convinced.
I am not afraid of our children becoming teenagers or young adults. Every phase of their development has had its challenges, tears, and sleepless nights. Each new step has had elements which made me feel ill-equipped and out of my depth. However there is not one thing they could do which would surprise me. My husband and I have either lived and experienced it as teenagers, or we walked out life beside those who did. We are not so removed from our youth to completely forget what it feels like to live in teenage skin.
I don’t fear the development of their voice or see their right to a choice as rebellion or something I should fear.
Teenagers are not a disease or a problem we need to vaccinate against or dread. They are human beings becoming. Like the rest of us. They are young ones in transition. They are walking through an essential part of human development. There is no reason to be terrified, or to mock and shame them, or to offer parents warnings of horror and doom.
Sometimes I think grownups need to grow up already. The parenting “helpers” who seem to spread fear about this phase the most – are the adults who are living as if they themselves have “arrived.”
God grief, none of us have arrived.
A Safe Place
Raising teenagers isn’t a phase we are going to “just get through,” but a phase we can thrive through… together.
- Yes, they are going to hurt us and we will hurt them. This is a part of being in a family.
- They will likely embarrass us and we will embarrass them.
- There will be a whole new range of emotions we need to learn to navigate – ours and theirs.
- We will wonder why we ever decided to become parents – they will likely wonder this about us too.
- And there will be hormones raging.
- We will probably say things to one another we never should say.
Hopefully on the other side of this part of their development they will still want to come home to us. My prayer is that while they are becoming they do not feel as if they need to release me and their father to be OK in the world and with themselves. I hope they still feel like they belong here.
I pray they always find in us a safe place they can trust to be FOR them.
She Turned 13
For her thirteenth birthday we bought our daughter a compass so she can navigate her adventures well. It is for her real journeys, but also a symbol of finding direction in whatever she chooses. It is also a means of finding her way home again too. Her grandparents bought her a set of tools (her request) because what 13 year old girl doesn’t need a set of tools? She is awesome like this by the way. She is always pushing against gender stereotypes. Raising little feminists is awesome.
Raising Teens Who are Valued, Seen, & Heard – Matters
No parent who has ever lost their child’s respect or presence ever set out thinking, “I am going to completely alienate my child from our family and from myself.” But our actions as parents matter every single day. The words we speak, the stories we tell about them into the world, the words, ideas, and opinions we speak over their daily lives, the manner in which we disciple & discipline, and the motives behind our presence and presents – shout clearly our intentions to them over the course of many years.
I don’t get forever with my children, but I do have right now. I want them to know how much I delight in them. They are an essential part of our family. They matter to the heart of us.
They need to know that I do not fear their journey into adolescence, but see it as another phase we get to ENJOY and learn about together. I am excited they are growing. There is no reason for them to think I feel having a teenager is a drain on my emotional and physical well-being.
We intentionally choose healthy, whole life themes to speak over them. Words have the power to shape what and who they become. I can’t speak continual harm and cruelty over their lives and expect them to become something strong and profound and connected.
If I speak wounds over them they will live wounded because they are wounded.
We take daily steps to make sure they matter to one another too. Sibling rivalry and competitive green monsters have no place in our home. I take intention steps to defeat this monster head on.
Teenagers are Human Too – No Warning Necessary
Right now I am not scared of the teenager years (let’s revisit this when she starts to drive). I am however wide-eyed and hopeful, laughing and enjoying witnessing who they are becoming.
I think this is what makes me a great mom.
A part of living in life’s overflow is raising children who want to stand up in those waters alongside you. They recognize the abundance. They can see clearly the world around them. And they love deeply and feel deeply too.
- When you are content in your heart space then you can be content in the life spaces your children choose for themselves.
- When you live with big trust then you can love them fully and release them fully too (even though releasing does come in stages).
- When you live with hope filled listening then you have no room to assume about them, only open space for listening well and leaning in fully and delighting in what and how they become.
- When you are emotionally and spiritually mature and SAFE their stories are not a threat to your story. Instead they are another place to celebrate the fullness and goodness of life. No resentment, competition, or fear required.
Raising WholeHearted Kids
I am not a parenting expert. There are no parenting experts.There are a bunch of us who stumble along the way enjoying our kids, leaning in, and listening well, refusing to assume we have arrived or KNOW. There are also parents who never seemed to get how amazing their kids are/were while they had them in their home. They utilize anxiety, fear, guilt, shame, emotional manipulation and control with their kids instead of abundant love, grace, PRESENCE, and praise.
Raising great kids is about lavish mercy and big grace and abundant forgiving. These are what I know so far… like I said let’s revisit this when she is learning to drive.
This is going to go too fast for us to live any other way together. Before long we will be packing up her things and moving her to a destination where she is going to choose her life.
I pray she wants to include me in her life when she does.