When my kids were little, there were more seasoned moms that would say, “Oh, you think it is hard now, just wait until they are teenagers!” I used to just brush it off and think, “no way, my kids will never…” Never say never, right?! Now here I sit, years later, with a son who turned 14 at the beginning of the year and a daughter who turned 13 about 3 months later. The last eight months or so have totally changed in our household. It has been a gradual evolving, but sometimes avalanche, of emotions. I find myself trying to learn how to parent in a different way, with what can seem, some days, as divergent kids. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids to death. I mean I would literally die for them. They are great, BUT, wow the emotional and mental energy that it takes to daily relate to them as teens really can take a toll some days.
Here are some things I am learning as I am in the trenches:
- They just want to be heard, not yelled at. In their minds, they know everything.
- Anger is a real emotion, caused by fear, loneliness and insecurities.
- They want independence, yet still need some inter-dependence. Growing up in today’s world is so different than when I was younger. The instant communication via text, social media and the internet can bring about a lot of insecurities and anxiety.
Learning to navigate through life is a challenge for them, and as moms it is our privilege to help them maneuver safely without getting scathed by any land mines that might blow up on the way through. Some days, it can seem so exciting as we watch them grow, mature, and make wise choices Sometimes they are kind to the new kid, take initiative cleaning the house, and show good character in a tough situation. However, on other days, it can be heart-wrenching to watch them hurting through broken friendships, make mistakes by using negative words, or forgetting to do a task that was due.
There are days that I struggle with the balance of it all. I am trying to be a better listener for their concerns, even if it means staying up way past bedtime to talk through some deep issues. I am trying to help them see that humility is a good virtue to develop (especially when you think you know everything) by reminding them that there still is so much to learn. I am trying to recognize the deeper-rooted emotion that the anger is just a symptom of. And I am trying to learn how to address the loneliness, fear, and insecurity that comes with being a teenager without breaking their resolve or hurting their feelings on a deeper level.
Do I have all the answers? NO! I would like to think that I am learning and growing with them as we all evolve into better humans by relating to one another in love and kindness. I have to remind myself daily that the ultimate goal for my kids is to become strong, independent, kind-hearted, grateful adults who have something positive to contribute to society and the world around them. I mean careers, money, ambition, knowledge are not bad things, but I long for my kids to contribute on a deeper level to the world they live in. Hopefully, through all our struggles and growing together, they will find a purpose that is more profound than that of just being successful in business, athletics, or finances. I hope they discover that serving, giving, helping, and loving others can lead to a more fulfilling life in the long run.
On any given day, though, you would see us struggling with these realities. These concepts are great in concept, but living them out moment by moment is hard. I mean, one second we are hanging out playing a game, and the next second there is a yelling match.
Something that I try to do as a mom is to quickly admit when I am wrong and seek their forgiveness. I want to emulate the things that I am trying to help them develop, like humility and kindness. One of the biggest things that teenagers can spot is hypocrisy. I don’t want to be a hypocrite by saying one thing, yet doing something different. I mean, nobody likes to be around anyone who does the opposite of what they say. Letting my kids make mistakes and forgiving them can be challenging for me at times, since I am a total perfectionist. Another thing I strive to give them, is GRACE. Often, it is easy to focus on what needs to be changed, fixed, or done better, but that can be exhausting for them. I try to make a conscious effort speak to them in positive ways instead of only harping on the negative all the time. It is definitely a process I have yet to fully master…