Having teenagers is so much fun! When the kids were toddlers I was terrified of being a mom to teenagers, you hear so many horror stories!! But they really are fun to be with (most of the time ;)) funny, smart, and interesting human beings.
I don’t claim to know practically anything about parenting…it’s all an experiment!! But I have learned a little from watching other, wiser parents. And from all the mistakes I make daily!
So here are my 5 tips to parenting teenagers:
[ONE] Pray!!! This is the one answer I always get when asking older parents for advice. Have you ever asked older parents for advice on parenting teenagers? They’ll either laugh and say they’ll let me know when they figure it out, or they’ll just tell a lot of funny stories, or they’ll say, “prayer, lots of prayer”.
And I have found that this is soooooo true. I’ve been in many situations where I just don’t know what to say, or one of my teens will be mad at me, and I’ll be mad at them and I see no way to resolve the situation. Prayer always helps. It helps to leave the situation and take a few minutes to pray. Just stopping to acknowledge to the Lord that we need help…helps. It gets my focus back where it needs to be and often diffuses the situation from what I thought was earth shattering to something more manageable.
It’s often a good idea to pray with your teen as well. Again when we don’t know what to say, it’s good for them to see that we just don’t have all the answers, we need God’s help and they do too.
[TWO] don’t despair! This is a big reminder for me. I tend to despair…if I see a problem with one of my kids (I look at their problems with a microscope! Does every mother do this? Obsess about ways in which my kids need to improve when I’ve got giant beams in my own eyes??!!)
So many times I get so worried about an issue and in a few weeks (or months…sometimes years) it works itself out, the kids mature and I start obsessing over something else ! 🤣
[THREE] apologize when necessary. This is huge!!! Humility has helped me get out of many scrapes…but sadly, I’m sure I’ve had many more where I’ve been proud and not apologized for the way I’ve talked to my kids. I can remember several times when I’ve gone in theoretically shaking my finger in their faces and telling them what they’ve done wrong…but when I’ve been able to sit down and apologize for my angry tone and apologize for the way I’ve handled things…their faces immediately soften and they’ll look at me and at that point be willing to talk or listen. (Now if you’re one of those people who always respond sweetly and gently to everything thrown at you, you won’t need this advice…but I need it minute by minute!!)
[FOUR] be there. Sometimes we think that when our kids are teens they won’t need us as much, and of course they don’t need us for a lot of things. But the truth is, they like us to be there when they have a question or just help finding the lost wallet etc. And this can be more a state of mind than actually always physically being there…Knowing they can text or call you about things large or small.
I saw this a few months ago when I was sick for a week. I sat on the couch pretty much daily for a week and I told Dave that I pretty much had a steady job of talking to one or more of the kids for much of the time…since I was in the living room, they knew I was there and would plop down and discuss something, or call down the stairs asking about something. If they know you’re available, they’ll take advantage of that and it was pretty wonderful.
A note to those who aren’t able to be physically available for your kids: they are getting older and independent as teens and you’re right, you don’t always have to be there…but even if you can make time to be available around the house at times, it will pay off….maybe you could leave off a few extra activities on the weekends so you’re there. The dynamics may already be set up in your house that everyone is always gone with his/her activities but if they start to notice there’s someone home and there’s someone to watch tv with or eat a snack with…they’ll come around.
speaking of snacks:
[FIVE] make food. Another important one!!! They get so excited when there’s good food in the house…if there’s not, they’ll leave and go find it wherever they can…bojangles and sheetz are the favorites of our boys.
The breakfast thing started when they went to high school. My boys had been homeschooled up til high school and would make their own breakfast (usually cereal) …but when Wes went to high school he said cereal wouldn’t cut it, he needed more to stay full til lunch, so I made him eggs every day. Then when Wil joined him and needed breakfast too, I upped the game a little bit with occasionally pancakes etc. You would have thought I’d hung the moon! It makes them so happy! I know this is so basic….there are some moms who would never dream of just throwing the cereal box on the table like I did for so many years!
I want to get a lot better at this….our suppers have been pretty dismal lately…I need to get back into the groove of making good suppers with enough for leftovers.
It means a lot to them when there is good food around, it helps with the moodiness (probably me even more than them, haha!)
There are my tips from a very imperfect parent of imperfect kids who still have a long way to go….please let me know the answers to:
1) knowing when to back off and when to lean in
2) knowing when to let them joke and tease you and each other and when it’s gone too far
3) knowing which issues (battles) to fight and which aren’t that important
Yeah, I’ve got lots of questions…guess I’ll go pray about it and eat a snack 🤣♥️❤️ God bless you as you parent your kids at any age.