Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Gathered Advice: Part 1

I must confess, when I hit publish on "That Awkward Stage", I really doubted I would get any response. I handed out my email address and boldly asked for tips but I secretly expected nothing. What that really boiled down to was the feeling that God didn't care enough about me to send responses my way.

Guess what? He did care!

He spoke loud and clear through you readers when not one but five emails landed in my inbox. I enjoyed the tips and advice from each of them, but the fact that God cared enough to prompt the writers to share them spoke to me the loudest. I'll even admit to wiping a few tears as I thanked Him for the tangible evidence of His love for me.

As I promised, I'm going to share the advice with the rest of you. In this first post, I'll give you some input on parenting teens. I'm leaving the writers anonymous and I'm not sharing their emails in full but I hope you enjoy the advice!


"We have children that are entering the teens, those years when they search for their niche in this world. We can encourage and suggest, but some decisions we cannot make for them."

" Stay involved in their lives. Take an interest in what they like to do. Pray often."

"It is such a fun stage to have children that you can relate to as an adult."

{Let me insert here, I've never agreed with the mom's who say they love having older children who they can reason with/discuss things with; I've always loved younger children and been intimidated by older ones. But, several weeks ago when my oldest daughter was away at camp for a week I realized how much I missed having someone around to carry on"adult" conversations with during the day! I hadn't realized how much I enjoy her friendship.}

"I used to wonder why the older ladies are so tight-lipped with advice when we younger ones so obviously needed to tap into their wealth of wisdom. Now I understand that for the most part it’s only by the grace of God our children turn out as well as they do –we didn’t have a clue what we were doing (in the thick of parenting) so we sure don’t have answers for everyone else......I have opinions, but I’m not at all sure what worked for me will work for you.

That was the disclaimer.
Advice I have for parenting teens... when they are small, listen to their chatter so that when they are older they will keep talking to you. The chatter will slow down and you’ll want to know what’s going on in that head. But if they got the message years ago that you are not interested in what they have to say, they won’t say it.
Sometimes I want to shake young parents... how to wake them up that they are setting a foundation for parenting teens?? So much of the influence you have over your children is much earlier than you think. They don’t realize answering a toddler’s million “why” questions every day is paving the way to getting a teen to [get off their phone long enough to] communicate. Till most parents are aware of it, it’s too late. 
When they get to the teen years –especially once they can drive and you have less illusion of control over them- it’s fairly important not to overreact to things they tell you or you find out they are doing away from your presence. Gasping over stupid risk-taking/close calls... scolding for immature choices will not stop them from doing these things. It will only cause them to go undercover with it. Speaking from experience here. (Case in point- my parents were not happy with all the dress up socials we did when I was in service. Did it stop me from participating? No, I just quit telling them about it.) It takes the wisdom of Solomon to ‘school’ your reactions, but I keep saying I would rather know what they are doing, even if I don’t approve, than have them hide it from us. When my son got the 4wheeler stuck and it would’ve been pitch dark till he walked home but he didn’t have a cell phone along to call for help, he shot a large branch off a tree with the gun and used it to lever the 4wheeler out, I applauded his ingenuity but inside I was cringing over the many ways that could have ended badly. I thought I did pretty good covering up my alarm while teaching them to drive, but they gleefully tell stories how they always knew when I was nervous because I would clutch the door handle.
Something that has been big for me in parenting teens is to remember how I felt when I was their age. Yes, they seem so much younger and inexperienced than I was at their age, but I thought I was mature back then. I try to treat them the way I wanted to be treated. I loved, loved, loved the age my daughter is now so I try to release her to do things without me - get excited about what she’s doing, even though I’m too old for the slumber parties and things that were so much fun in my youth. Tell them things like “I’m so glad you have the opportunity to do this!” even when inside you are going “aww, that’s my baby!”

Great advice, thank you so much ladies!!

I'll be back soon with part two, this time focusing more on my question of personal aging and how to gracefully adapt to the change of identity that comes with all this change of who I am......

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