When my babies were little, I had many well meaning and seasoned parents encourage me to enjoy the littles season now, because once they become teenagers, then everything changes.
They didn't say it, but the words would hang heavy, as though they were warning me that it would be incredibly challenging and heartbreaking when our sweet little toddlers would turn into hormone raging, attitude giving mini adults.
Often, the encouragement would be given as I was helplessly trying to corral a very strong-willed three year old daughter who had stiffened her body up in a tantrum and was crying and screaming so loud, I was sure the cops were going to be called. That knowing smile, statements like "you got this, mama." were heard often.
When they were babies, I didn't really feel like I got anything. In fact, I was pretty sure I was not doing a very good job and that they were going to need therapy for the rest of their lives......
Some of you feel me here?
Fast forward to today. I am now the mom of 2 teenagers. A sixteen year old on the verge of getting her license and is a junior in high school; along with a 13 year old who is becoming more and more of a man every day.
You hear that? That is the sound of my heart cracking a little bit. You want them to grow up. You want your kids to develop and become their own persons.
But no one really prepares you for how it makes your heart ache.
The advise that is usually given to parents of teens is one of caution. Most of the time it is with grace and love and compassion, especially from those closest to you. They love your kids as you do. Once in awhile, you hear the snarky narrative that teens are disruptive, rude and unmanageable......that they are the worst and that parenting teens don't foster any joy......but I am grateful that I have people in my life who push back on that narrative.
This season is a treasure. It is the most fun I have had as a parent thus far.
My kids are who they are. Imperfect individuals yet made in God's own likeness. They are discovering their wants, the dreams, curious about their purpose and gifts, and they want to have a lot of fun. My Madi and Sean do enjoy spending time with me. Especially after the divorce, I have tried to build a healthy relationship with my kids. It was incredibly important to me.
And now with my being engaged and there is a new figure in their lives, my work in our relationship is far from over.
Teens are incredible. Teen girls are not to be relegated to the myth that they are just catty, snotty and superficial. They are smart, articulate, radiate, are beautiful and desire deep friendships and want to have fun. They are developing and changing and growing up and I am sure they are curious, uncertain, insecure and afraid at times. Enter whatever negative adjective you want about teen girls and I will counter you with ten positives.
Teen boys are not pervy, horny, and obnoxious. They don't just care about girls and getting them naked or look at porn all the time. Can we stop destroying boys as well? They are fun, delightful, intelligent, energetic, dreamers, curious and more. Again, enter whatever negative adjective you want and I will counter you with double the positives.
Raising teens is incredibly rewarding and joy filled. Are there hard moments? Of course. Think back to when you were a teenager. What kinds of adjustments you had to make? What did you have to learn? Some teens don't have the support in their homes like my kids do. They are lucky because they are surrounded by a ton of adults who love them deeply and want to see them succeed.
With social media, I can imagine it must be hard enough to read about how irritated people are with you simply because of your age. It allows me to exhibit more grace toward a chippy teen, because underneath the surface there is more to the story.
I don't want to come off as a know it all when it comes to loving our teenagers. I just get frustrated by society's dismissal of them simply because of a narrative. We put them in a box and paint them with one particular brush and quite frankly, if we can be honest with ourselves, we need to have a little more patience with them. I lose my cool more than I care to admit at times. I don't like attitude and disrespect so occasionally, a quick word or a look usually helps.
But my goodness, raising teens is so fun. The parenting dynamic is different now. The type of discussions that foster from eating around the table with them are interesting and relationship building. Show an interest in their interests and watch them light up. You won't be able to keep them quiet! Make yourself a safe place for them to share whatever is going on inside of them. I get it, some things are uncomfortable to hear. Puberty, and sex and other discussions take some getting used to. Sometimes, I wonder who decided I was mature enough to handle this. Haha!
But you want them to be able to feel safe to come to you with anything. Otherwise, they will turn elsewhere.
They are your children. Your gifts. Your teens. They only have you. Love them. Lead them. Encourage them to be as God intended and designed them. Stand beside them as they try to discover that for themselves.
You got this.
Praying for you.