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more Q & A – teenagers

so…. there were lots of questions about teenagers and raising big kids.

i can only speak from my experience of course.
and i’m no parenting expert but i can share what i think i’ve learned so far.

our home may be the complete opposite of yours.
with five kids i can say for sure that every kid is different & needs something different.
some kids are naturally obedient and would never want to rock the boat.
some kids are the opposite and want to tip your boat, their boat and everyone else’s within reach.
some kids are quiet.  some kids want to talk your ear off.
some kids get mad easily while others seem to be happy all the time.
and there are a hundred other personalities in-between those examples.

the frustrating reality of parenting is that just because you do every thing “right”,  follow all the advice you get and read all the books – it doesn’t mean they will fall in line and obey.
or that they will make the right choices.
or try harder in school.
or want to please you.
or even that they will like you!

they are humans with the right to choose good or bad… right or wrong…
sometimes no matter how loving, how wonderful,  how kind or how much fun you are… they still may not make the right choice.
and that part truly sucks.
meaning:  i like results.
and guarantees.
i want my kids to SUCCEED!  i don’t want them to mess up or have pain that could be avoided!
i want a formula for parenting teens that would go like this:  if you love God, love your kids, provide for them, feed them, go to their ball games, take them to the pool, bake cookies, play legos and host birthday parties then your kids will be well behaved, angelic, smiling lovelies that say “thank you so much mother for all that you do for me each day”
yeahhhh… it doesn’t work like that.
there is no formula.

when they are toddlers and babies their needs are met in such tangible ways… dry diaper, full stomach, good nap.
i really thought i knew what i was doing as a mom when my 5 kids were 10 years old and under.
i felt pretty proud of myself.
and then the teen years knocked me down several notches.
the teenage years with the hormones & cell phones & driver’s licenses & peer pressure – it’s a constant emotional roller coaster.
and then there are so many actual people in our home – we are like a theme park for feelings!

it may not be that way at your house.
maybe your house is calm and quiet and everyone behaves.
if so… lucky you.
feel free to stop reading and go find something to bake on pinterest.  🙂

maybe your kids would never say something hurtful to you.
or slam doors.
or unthinkable that they’d swear at you.
or say they hate you.

but the reality of life at our house is that it’s not peachy keen everyday.
i would never want people to look through this blog or Instagram and think that it was.
i mean it’s not a war zone but it’s real life with 6 – 7 personalities and needs flaring all at once.

i shocked myself the other night when i was driving alone and thought about how i never thought i would like these teen years or could like them since they aren’t cute cuddly babies anymore.  I am a baby lover and could hold babies all day long!  And now that is in my past and i realized i actually really do LIKE having a house full of teenagers!

even with the yelling or swearing or door slamming.

it’s not like that everyday.
but i can’t write about raising teenagers with out saying that those things could happen.
it doesn’t make me feel like we are failures.
it’s just real life.
it doesn’t make me a bad mom if they choose to react that way.
they are just people trying to figure out life and each interaction is a time to learn how to appropriately respond to conflict.

we do have LOTS of fun as well at our house.
they are all so funny.
there is laughter, hugs, happiness,complete silliness and even occasional dancing!

so… the only “advice” i could give seems to be the obvious things that i feel everyone already knows but i will share anyway.

LOVE your kids the best way you can.
try to figure out what makes them tick.
love them for who they are… not who you want them to be.
listen when they share with you.
try to love them in the way they respond the best.
show them that you are on their side and that you always will be.
encourage them! tell them they are awesome and you’re proud of them!
choose your battles… sometimes it’s just not worth it.
validate their feelings especially when others have hurt them.
sympathize when it feels like they will never recover from a break up or a mean girl incident.
listen when they are frustrated about a coach or teacher or a boss.
give them responsibility… don’t do everything for them… laundry, school work, job applications, alarm clocks.
if you don’t help them learn to do hard things – who will? who cares more about them than you?!
be strict when it comes to keeping them safe… parties, drinking, boyfriends/girlfriends, driving… etc.
making the hard calls is your job… YOU are the adult.
it’s not fun to be hated but YOU are the adult and you can handle that.
it won’t last forever.
they will eventually understand that you did it because you loved them.

they are going to mess up.
it could be small but also it might be in a really big way.
you have to be there when they fall… still loving them.
not giving up.

if you don’t know how to do these things on your own or situations are too difficult – find a counselor or therapist who can help you.
therapy is a good thing!
it helps so much to talk things through!  for you or for your kids or both!
i’ll say it again… therapy is good thing!

i do not see myself as doing everything right. (no way)
or that i have perfect kids. (heck no!)
but we are trying.
it’s hard.
harder than i ever thought it would be.
but it is worth it!

i was confused when my friend who was about 5 years ahead of me in mothering would say “teenagers are so much fun!”
i honestly thought she was either clueless or lying or both.
it used to make me mad actually.

and now… years later… having gone through so much… seeing my babies turn into a house full of teens and older…
now i get it!
it IS a beautiful, crazy and FUN stage to walk (& fumble) through.
you get to be a part of these amazing people’s journey into life on their own.
you get to go beside them and cheer them on!
it’s humbling.

there are so many prayers said for our kids.
we pray that they would come to know jesus as their savior.
that they would love him deeply in their heart.
we pray for protection over them.
we pray they would make right choices.
and be kind to others.
we pray for the ability to love them the way He wants us to.
and we trust that the God who created them has the best plan for them.
we trust that He will continue to love them unconditionally.
we have hope in Him to cover our parenting mistakes with his grace and mercy.

it’s HARD but God is big enough to take care of you, your kids and mine too!


Marian Vischer - Meg, I’m a little late to the party for this post but girl, this is gold. Two out of my three kids are now teenagers. My world feels unpredictable and roller-coastery in a way it never has. This post puts me at ease, reminding me that messy is normal and days are volatile and love needs to be in great supply. Your words are keepers.

Lisa - This is perfect timing for me today….my husband and I have been discussing raising our kids through the teenage years this weekend. Thanks for this dose of reality and encouragement!

tracy fisher - I sooooo get your mothering words. Never knew how much i’d miss my daughter moving to college in CA or how my baby boy is turning into a little man in his first year of HS. I had no idea boys had emotions too..haha. but it’s fun to look back and see how far they’ve come and how my husband and I actually had a little bit to do with that. I wish we lived closer to you. i’m sure you hear that from everyone. but I know the 4 of us could have some good parenting laughs. keep up the good work!!

Mom of 4 - Yes, yes, yes! Thank you for this sweet bit of encouragement. “the ability to love them the way He wants us to” is my daily prayer in this season, when I often find it difficult to love my 12-year old. Thank you for addressing some of the difficulties of the teen years: I’m new to this stage of parenting, and your generous writing in this post feels like an answer to prayers.

May God continue to bless you and your family.

Lisa - You hit the nail on the head with this one! I have two teenagers (and 3 more in the 10 and under age group). It really is such a blast having them but man it is hard too because they can make choices that are scary or dangerous or sad! My 15 year old is a “rock the boat” type of kid and man do I worry for her. But then God gives me little glimpses of the ways He’s working in her. You explained the teen years so perfectly! One moment I’m so incredibly proud of her kindness and 5 minutes later I’m telling her to take a picture off instagram that is inappropriate. I do wish there was a manual on how to handle social media/phones with teens. We are the first generation having to parent those things. It’s hard! Thanks for sharing and making my household seem so normal!

jo - Appreciate your honesty. Sometimes I get depressed and disillusioned reading blogs where life appears perfect…thanks for being real. Really agree with you that each kid is different and needs different things! Most important thing is that they each know how much they are loved.

Mickie - Oh, and I almost forgot this about feelings. I have said many times that I think it’s a pretty cruel joke that I am going through Perimenopause (nice…!) at the same time that my son is going through puberty. No joke! We feel ALL the feelings around her and it is CRAZYtown some days!

Mickie - Thanks for sharing this Meg. It was what I needed to hear today. I only have one tween at this point (I can’t even imagine 5… although we were 4 when I was growing up and not sure how my mom survived) and it is all of the things you said. Beautiful, crazy, fun and I’ll add frustrating, humbling, scary etc. But, overall, I honestly do love that he is getting older and how much more we can share now. I also especially loved your reminder that “And we trust that the God who created them has the best plan for them.” This is something I do pray about because I tend to worry WAY too much about what will happen to him later in life. I have to know that God loves him even more than I do and has an amazing plan for his life. It is all hard but definitely worth it. Thanks again!

Lisa - I also pray that if my kids screw up- that they would get caught. Especially during those early teen years. Because I don’t want them to think they can get away with something once their old enough for legal consequences. When they’re adults it’s fun for them to tell you what they got passed you.

LISA - Thank you , Meg.
I’ve been waiting for you to post about this!
Our house is a ZOO at times ! Your saying the real things
is so great and comforting!
Very well said!

Linda Johnston - Thank you. I needed to hear this. We have 3 teenagers in our home with another younger child coming up quickly. I feel like we’ve become some kind of circus act with all the different emotions and personality. I have to admit its been wearing on me. Some are not making the best choice and my heart aches for them. Others seem to be moving forward with ease and yet I know underneath the struggles they are having. This is such a tough world and even more so than the world I was a teenager in. Thank you for your words and your perpective. Maybe someday I will be able to say I love these teenage years too.

T-licious - Legit.

Tina - Ahhh….if there were only a formula!!!! Stumbling through the teenage years. Our first 2 are teens, with 3 more to follow (they are close in age, so at one point in time, I will have 5 teenagers at once!!). I laugh now that I thought all those sleepless newborn nights were so hard. Little did I know. It does have it joyful moments though. Thanks for the words of wisdom.

Cindy - Loved this so! thank you for sharing. Beautiful words!

Amy Woods - I enjoyed your post! Being a mom to only one, it is neat to hear your big family perspective. I was the youngest of 6 children, and I think my parents were saints to handle all our different personalities! I love parenting my teenager. He is so fun, and super smart. I am seriously in awe of the way he thinks. I worried about parenting a teen from the time I new I was pregnant! Ha! But, wow, the Lord prepares us for each season doesn’t He? Now that my son is 18 and will graduate high school this year, I wish we could just go back and do it all one more time…oh the things I would savor!

Su - I think I will print this post out and read it regularly. So encouraging. I got 5 big kids/teenagers over here too.

Kristin - Love them for who they are, not who you want them to be…yes! That one is so important, and is something one set of grandparents has not figured out. I mean, they LOVE the kids, but they keep on trying to get them to be what THEY want them to be. Ugh.

Jen - My biggest advice: hang in there. Every single stage has its pros and cons. Do what you know to be best and right and trust God for the rest. God is faithful to his promise “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will NOT depart from it.” “Old” may be 16, 27, or even 65, but God IS faithful. I highly recommend the book “Praying the Bible for your Adult Children”. It’s easy to pray fervently and expectantly when they are young and the future is unknown. When they grow up, move out, have their own families and things seems to be “settled”, it’s easier to slack off. Don’t stop praying! They need it more than ever!

Jessica Shrock - I love this post! Thanks for your honesty and sharing your heart.

Lu - Thank you for writing this post. I like the rainbows and the colour but really I appreciate the realness of life you share. Your honesty has helped me a lot.

Lu - Thank you. I really appreciate you writing about this.

Maureen - Love this Meg!!! And I would add it keeps getting better. Our oldest just moved out to his first apt. in the city (Chicago) and asked me to go rug shopping with him this past Saturday. Had such a nice afternoon with him and so sweet to see him with his own taste and style pick out things. And this is the one that I butted heads with for years!!!

Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - This is so, so beautifully written. I could just hug you. I’m gonna go bake something – but only so I forget about the doors that slammed today.

Jen - This one is so good and so right:

“try to love them in the way they respond the best.”

Jenn A - Its so very true. I loved having my babies around but teenagers are so wonderful in their own right. The are funny and smart and kind and sometime mean and hateful. But its such a great experience to watch them grow into the adults they hopefully become.

Jenny B. - Love this post! A wise man recently told my husband that you can’t take credit for the good OR bad things your kids do.

Sabrina - Thank you for sharing this… I have three boys, 4,3,18m and they are a handful! They are wild and crazy and talk back and yell and fight constantly. It’s so exhausting being with them all day everyday. I really try to not wish these days away, because I know someday they will be older. But I worry that they will turn into crazy teenagers. So I pray a lot for them! I hope the Lord hears my prayers and helps turn them into sweet, kind, calm, and Godly young adults. 🙂
P.S. Everyone keeps telling me that teenage boys are way different than toddler boys. I hope they are telling the truth. 🙂

Sarah M - I love this so much! Thank you!

Jenn - That’s some good stuff right there. Thank you for sharing.

patty - What a great post. Its so true, the babies are awesome and exhausting, teenagers are awesome and exhausting but all of it is rewarding, and there’s nothing more rewarding than having your kids come out of being teenagers and liking who they are as people. We have 2 gainfully employed early 20 something college graduates.

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