Somewhere recently I read a post or tweet from someone wondering why there aren’t many blogs about parenting teenagers.
I’ll tell you why.
Teenagers can read.
We’re treading carefully.
One false move and we’re on the outs.
And let me tell you, it’s not easy to get back in.
I’m one comment or tag away from being blocked on Facebook. (I’ve also been wall- wiped which I’m still recovering from. This blog actually could be the end of the deep virtual relationship I have with my kids.)
I’ve never claimed to be a parenting expert. I haven’t handled every situation perfectly, there are things I wish I had done differently. In this current stage of life with one teenager and a university man-child, I’m doing the best I can. Still trying to figure things out, often one day at a time.
Somedays I get my feelings hurt.
When they text each other behind my back and say I’m a little cringe-y.
When I’m forbidden to car dance. (which, by the way is one of my top talents.)
When they use cool new sayings like “extra” and “snack” then act horrified when I make those sayings part of my vocabulary. (Side note: Look up new sayings because they might not mean what you think.)
When they make fun of the way I pronounce words like Peterborough, nursery, peanut butter and Keturah.
“You could do worse than me,” I say, defending my obvious cool factor.
Insert super-obvious eye roll as the response.
All that considered, I have great kids. There’s no picture perfect anything, but we love each other. We like to spend time together, we talk openly (a little too much TMI at times) and they still hug me and say they love me.
We are making it through.
One day at a time.
There’s no secret strategy.
There’s just learning to be the parent that your kids need.
Trying to –
- Love them where they are at. There will be hard seasons, frustrating seasons and at times they might be in a place or stage that’s hard to understand. Don’t give up. Stay right there with them, even if it’s not the place you’d choose for them. Fight for your relationship with them.
- Listen when they need to talk. Put your phone down. (I fail at this one so often) Look them in the eye. Make time when they initiate it. However your teen chooses to reach out and connect with you, grab onto it.
- Back off when they need their space. One of the more important parts of your soon-to-be-adults learning how to make their own way and be independent is by giving them room to breathe. Often that means letting them figure things out on their own, and you stepping back and letting go. Even if it’s the opposite of what you want to do.
- Respect how they feel. If something you do bothers them, be sensitive to that. Sometimes you just think you’re a super-funny mom. Then, you realize you’re actually the most embarrassing person on the planet. Follow those cues.
- Encourage other voices in their life. The best thing your teen can have, is other people speaking into their lives. Seek out those places where they can connect with others and support those relationships. You can’t be the only voice, as much as you want to be.
The best advice I think any parent can be given is to give love and require love and keep love as the standard.
An imperfect family full of love is really all anyone can ask for.
In the meantime,
I secretly love the cringe.
I’ll be that cringe-y mom all week long.
I’ll take that cringe to the bank and cash it in. (see, I’m doing it right now.)
I’ll be extra, lit and look like a snack (whatever that actually means.)
Most of all, I’ll love my almost-partially-grown-up-adults with all my heart.
Because that’s just what you do.
That’s how you parent your teens.