Hello, my name is Marla and I am a mom of teenagers. Sometimes there is a real need for a support group for those of us in this position. Come join mine!
There are days you soar on wings of joy because of your relationship with your teen. And there are days where you feel like a failure and do not understand who this child is inside your baby’s body.
I have been a mom of teenagers for approximately six years and nine months. I am by no means an expert at doing the mom thing, but I have learned a few tips to pass along to those of you preparing for or in the throes of parenting teenagers:
1. Start letting go. I don’t mean stop loving and caring for them. Give them a little freedom to make a decision or two. It can start small, and as they earn your trust, you will feel better about giving them more leeway.
2. Teach them about the "Trust Bank." The more they do trustworthy things, the more is deposited into their "Trust Bank" account. When they make a mistake, that account depletes and they need to understand that though you still love them, that trust must be rebuilt.
3. Don’t force them (through guilt or demands) to participate in every activity they have always done. They are growing up and want to choose their own interests. Maybe he isn’t interested in playing baseball even though you have invested a lot of time and energy into being the perfect “Baseball Mom.”
4. Know they will change their minds. This whole decision making process is still just that: a process. It takes time to be completely sure and a parent should hold loosely to the first, second, and sometimes third or fourth versions of a plan. Be patient.
5. They are watching you. You’ve heard “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree?” Do your job and know they are following your example as an adult.
6. Don’t freak out. We have all done it, and for the most part, your little ones (though not immune) tend to be pretty OK with the occasional mommy fit. Yeah, from my “research” I can tell you teenagers do not respond well to this. If she has done something you are not happy with, the best course of action is to calmly discuss the ramifications of the decision she’s made and troubleshoot together the next steps to take.
7. Make sure they know you love and support them. Love is a huge component. It’s so easy to hug and kiss that adorable toddler’s cheek, but as they grow up there is a tendency to stop showing them our love. Kissing and hugging may not be allowed by your teen, but find meaningful ways to show them.
8. Pray for them. Make sure they know it. They should know you care enough to entrust them to the Lord. It may even open up a line of communication you didn’t know you had as they ask you to pray for specific things.
Raising teens is possible. Our parents survived these years while parenting us. I think we forget that they will grow up and we will see the light at the end of a (sometimes) long tunnel.
You can do it.
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)