I rarely blog about my older children anymore. It wasn’t a conscious decision, more like just an organic process of life changes. The parts of my heart and mind the older kids consume now is more private, held more close. It’s not that they asked me not to write about them; they love being “on the internet” (what they call their photos being on my website – mercifully, they are unaware of blogs and social media just yet). It’s not even that I decided their antics should be more private (even though they probably should).
I think it’s almost as if my feelings about them became softer and more vulnerable.
This is a weird feeling to notice in myself since I have blogged for 10 years next month. My oldest is about to turn 12, which means I started blogging when he was a toddler (and yes, I blogged about him!). I have always felt strongly that every story should be my story, mine to tell — not me telling my child’s story. But in sharing my story, I also was a narrator of their stories by default, because I was intricately involved in their stories and they in mine. I shared much about them, asked for advice, vented, shared a lot of our lives — even though most of the whole story was kept private. I love that I have these digital journals about their early lives. I really do.
So as everyone has gotten older, my telling of my stories has turned into less about their antics or struggles and more about me as a person. My own antics, if you will. Almost as if the progression of motherhood is dealing with the little people, then dealing with yourself, and then finally dealing with the teenagers.
There is a chunk of motherhood that is just about you and you growing and healing and changing and it’s completely needed before you take on the task of the tween/teen/young adult raisin’ up. I feel like there are many sisters out there who are poised and ready to share their experiences with those of us coming up in the next wave.
How has God shaped you so you could shape those kids who are turning into teens and then adults? I want to know. I need to know.
Today it struck me yet again how much more exhausting parenting pre-teens is than parenting preschoolers. I can break up bickering 3-year-olds in five seconds, but tween bickering and fighting can take much longer and an endless amount of mental gymnastics.
I told my boy that being kind was like heaping hot coals on his brother (who is currently his enemy). I had no idea if that was a bad thing to say or not, but I just really wanted one of them, ANYONE, to stop being mean to the other. Someone had to be first. So hey, son, does hot coals on your brother’s head sound tempting? Well, guess what! You can do that with kind words to him when he is being mean to you…yeah, I’m not sure that adds up. But it was all I could come up with in the moment. Hopefully the takeaway is still on point.
And friends, I didn’t intend to talk about this topic today — I had an entirely different post about parenting in mind (one that ended with my victory and my illuminating words of advice and everything tied up with a beautiful bow). This post doesn’t end that way, because, well I just haven’t really talked about how hard it is to parent kids when they start having real MINDS in the game, and I haven’t written about it, and I just need to say out loud that it’s really hard.
We aren’t in the weeds, but I cannot remember feeling more ill-equipped and clueless than I do in this season of parenting.
Those of you who have older children — what are your tips for other moms in the same transition age (tween/pre-teen) that I am in? Those of you who still have littles, are you feeling that season of personal growth come upon you yet?
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
I think at every point in raising children we are basically clueless…people are lying if they think they have all the answers. I have two older children (one 25, one 21). They were both raised by the same parents, but their paths have been much different. No two children are exactly the same and I believe that no two children can be parented exactly the same. My eldest had a mind of her own since the day she was born and that determination paid off when it came to peer pressure. The second is more of a follower…red flag. I was very diligent in watching my second child, but the world is evil and very luring. Know their friends, know their parents, know where they are, make it your business to know. They will not like you for it, but their very lives and futures depend on it. I don’t mean to sound dire, but we have had a lot of problems with our second child and I look back and say, “What could/should I have done differently?” I raised them both with God’s precepts, I loved them with all my heart, but yet a painful path was taken. I wish I had a pretty answer all tied up with a nice bow, but I am still a mom and still feeling clueless with my younger “child”. Remembering they are God’s children first, does always bring me back to Him to ask for wisdom for what to do in all the situations we’ve found ourselves in. I’m sorry, I’ve probably raised more questions than provided guidance. God is our perfect guide and I have spent a lot of time on my knees in prayer for my kids. Maybe that’s the best advice of all?? Know that you are not alone…
Jeanne Takenaka says
As a mother of tweens, I appreciate your transparency, Bev. And the reminder that I NEED to know my kids’ friends, their parents and where my kids are always. Even in this stage, my kids sometimes resent my nosy-ness, but it needs to be done. I’m the mom, not their friend. Thanks for the reminder.
Bev, thank you for this. It’s amazing what a huge relief it is just hearing from other moms that they struggled too. I am tucking your words away to remember later. Prayers for your family. xo
Christan Perona says
Arianne, I am with you 100%. My kids are 10 and 12, and I find myself writing about them less and less because things don’t “get tied up with a beautiful bow” as quickly. I have no advice for you, but maybe there’s comfort in knowing I’m walking beside you step by step??? 🙂 I find myself praying for my children, surrendering them to Him, placing them in His hands more than I ever did before. And really, they’re much better off that way – in His hands rather than in the clutches of their mom’s idea of wisdom. And, at the same time, their mom’s idol of image, and all-togetherness, and simplicity is shattered once again. It’s a win-win. 🙂
There is totally comfort knowing we are walking this road together! I love your win-win – YES!
Christan Perona says
PS – Your post was for me today… I’m sure it was for hundreds others, too, but I was one of the masses today.
Karen Brown says
Arianne, This is exactly where I am with my kids and writing. This line, especially, hit home for me: “I have always felt strongly that every story should be my story, mine to tell — not me telling my child’s story. ” With the passing of each stage, grade, milestone, and season, I’m humbled as a parent. Trading my nothingness for His Grace. Thanks for sharing this!
Humbled as we go along – that’s exactly it! Thank you Karen. xo
Jeanne Takenaka says
Arianne, we are in the same place. My boys are 9 1/2 and 11. I find myself praying for them much more diligently now than I did when they were little. I need God’s wisdom and discernment so much. With one very strong willed, sometimes angry boy, I feel extremely inept in handling and training him. I’m learning to ask lots of questions and engage with both boys, trying to get glimpses of their hearts so I know how to guide and to pray. It’s definitely a step-by-step journey right now, as I imagine it will be through their adulthood.
Thanks for your honesty today. It’s much appreciated. I’m saying a prayer for you today.
Thank you for the prayers, Jeanne, and I send some your way too. I can so relate to the details you shared and that inept feeling – ugh! It is such a journey, and I know I felt inept as a new mom, too. We will hobble until we walk and then we will run and then we will hit a new season and be laid flat, only to start the whole process over again. And it’s ok, it’s all growth for US as well as these kids! All grace. xo
Pray, Pray and Pray some more. I prayed so many prayers over my children when they were aged 13 on up. They had it just as hard as I did after their Father left us for another woman when they were 12 & 14. They saw my pain & felt their own. They rebelled quite mildly as I recall this time. They didn’t always go to church with me but I pared they would & sometimes they did. My daughter chose a different denomination which I had no problem with at the age of 14. She became that faithful believer in the Pentecostal church at age 15, now 16 years later, she is still strong in her faith, raising 3 children, homeschooling them, her & her husband are the youth leaders in their church as well. They have their problems because my son-in-law has Crohn’s disease and so does my 11 year old grandson(dx at age 9). My son is 33, he has a 4 yr old son(whose Mother left him) who was born with a genetic disorder called Tuberous Sclerosis in which small tuber like tumors grow in his brain, heart lungs, kidneys causing seizures, developmental delays, autism etc, he was also in a head on car accident in November on his way to work which put him off work for 4 months. He perseveres, he is a patient sweet Father with his son taking him to many physicians, he doesn’t go to church right now but he prays, He believes God is still good even through all his trials. All this is not because I am such a great Mother, I failed, I said the wrong things, I nagged but God does have grace for those raising their young I think he even has extra measure for the single, divorced parents trying their best. Pray, trust and believe. I still have to do that now because my son lives 6 hours away and my daughter lives In Alaska, I live in Kentucky. He has them in His hands, He really does. God bless and give you favor.
Thank you for your words and for sharing your heart, Debbie. xo
Thank goodness you spoke up. My sons are 15 and 13. It is harder to discuss teen concerns and advise is less frequent. My burden also feels heavier because I am single and there is no one to share this road. I have felt recently that I am not enough. I pray for godly men to influence them. Your post helps me see that it may be just this stage not my inadequacy?! I told a friend with an only child she will never try to teach how to drive to one with a younger brother in the backseat. Joyfully, Celeste
I think it’s definitely the stage that is making us feel inadequate — we are all trying our very best, you know? Peace to you, Celeste. xo
Get a copy of John Rosemond’s Teen Proofing book. Very grounded and useful as we try to teach them to become capable and resourceful and to exercise good judgement. Or look at LoveandLogic.com for another reality and natural consequences based approach.
Also get into a Moms in Prayer 9 formerly MIT- Moms in Touch) group so others are praying for your kids weekly along with you!
Thanks for the recommendations, Nan!
Girls, as a single mom of a 28 year old, I have to tell you that it is amazing to see all your hardwork, prayers, tears, mistakes, etc. transformed into a wonderful human being. I have raised my son on my own since his father walked out on us when he was two years old. I worked two jobs and put myself through college. There were many days that I thought I would not survive. I moved close to my brother (next door!) so that my son had his cousins and a male role model. The days when the boys picked on my niece and when they all fought were tough, but oh the memories. They are so close now and laugh and talk about all those days.
I want to encourage all,of you especially the moms of Tweens and teens, you will survive! Enjoy these times. My son just moved several states away and that my friends was the hardest day of my life. Putting him on the plane I thought my heart would break in two. I am slowly learning how to have time for me now. It is a joy to know that my son is a successful, happy, productive, God loving young man contributing in a positive way in this world.
Motherhood is a role that has been the greatest experience of my life. It has brought me so close to our Lord and has changed me in so many ways. Cherish these days both the good and difficult ones.
I am praying for you all!
Oh Kathy, thank you for sharing your story and what a heart tug reading about your boy moving away! I’m praying for you as you transition to this new season of life — that it would be SO abundant and wonderful! xo
Pray, pray, pray! As a mom of teens (and older) now, I can relate to the difficulty of going from “stage-to-stage” in your child-rearing. It’s tough! What “works” for one child may not necessarily “work” for another…they are all different. But God. I love those two little words. He knows. He formed them…and us…for His glory. We need to yield ourselves to Him and let Him do the work in our children’s lives. We need to lay the foundation for Him and trust Him to do the work in their hearts. The challenges and stages and trials we face with our children change as they get older, but God is unchangeable. The God Who enables the weary mother to lovingly nurse her child through sleepless nights is the same God Who strengthens the weary mother of toddlers and elementary children and preteens and teens. He gives us our children to raise for His glory and He’ll be with us through every stage of life. But God!!!
Wow, Karen. You just rocked my socks off. Such encouraging words, thank you so much!
As a mother to a 16 years old in August girl and a 12 and a half year old boy, I know the scared you’re feeling. I am loathe to ever give advice, because it supposes I know what I’m doing, but since you asked…
The absolute best advice I can give is to let them be. Just let them tell you each and every day, through words and deeds, who they are. That’s all most people on Earth want. To be seen and heard and loved for who they are.
You know you love your kids. So that’s the easy part. Now, just watch and listen. They’ll always be the children you love more than life itself, so don’t get thrown off by a temporary thing they say or do.
My daughter and I have not raised our voices to each other. Ever. We have disagreed. We have walked away. We have sucked it up. We have not been pleased. All is not always perfect. But, if on any given day, on any single solitary given second, I was given the choice to show her love or have her suffer, I wouldn’t have to choose. Fighting with your children causes them to suffer by feeling as though your love is distancing itself from them. That’s not what you want.
So just let them be. Watch and listen. And do the easiest thing of all. Love them.
Shelly, this was SO powerful. I love it so much. It changed me in just a few sentences. Thank you!
I told my mother,who has 7 children, “I am not ready to be a mother of a teenager”. Her wise reply was”No one is” Prayer is the most important part to parenting older children!
So true, thank you Barb!
Dear sisters –
Someone just asked me what book they should buy about raising a newborn. I gave her the same advice for your teen-aged children: Talk to a lot of parents, pray and go with with your gut tells you to do. You know your child better than anyone – other than his/her Creator. And hang tough. There were days that I didn’t think that my kids would speak to each other when they grew up, but they all get along great. Love them and lead them to the Lord.
Thank you for those encouraging words, Renee! xo
Dear Sisters in Christ,
I am the mother of a 22 and 20 year old. I have one boy and one girl. Parenting teenagers is hard work. My advice is that you should always remember that you are parenting the person they will BECOME and not just the person they are today. The person they are today may not like your decisions for them, and they may be angry with you about it, but the person they will become is so much more important than the person they are today. Don’t get me wrong – the person they are now is very important… but as parents, we are in this for the long haul. Our goal is to raise our children into God loving adults.
Be consistent. Be firm with what you believe to be true and right and just. Be the rock that they can cling to as they swing on hormones and attitudes. Don’t compromise on what is important – and let the not so important stuff go. Listen more than you speak. Let them make mistakes and learn from them. Don’t be in a hurry to rescue them from the consequences of their choices.
They are, after all, creating their conversion stories, their faith stories, their points in time when all they can do is cling to God and give thanks that He loves them through it all.
May God Bless you on the journey!!
“They are, after all, creating their conversion stories, their faith stories, their points in time when all they can do is cling to God and give thanks that He loves them through it all.”
I loved this, thank you Renee!
I have 2 daughters, ages 16 & 14. Wow….very challenging! I find it difficult to listen to “the news” of what goes on at school and getting them to tell me how they feel personally or how they fit into what is going on. And if they talk to me and share openly, it can be difficult to move from feeling kind of like a friend to being the responsible parent who has to say no and has to make unpopular & hard decisions. I also have a husband who is very involved, wants to communicate with me and with them about everything and he and I don’t always see eye to eye on what will work best for girls. Try your best to make sure you and your spouse are aligned in thoughts and decision-making. And although there are many days where you will get nothing but conflict with your kids, keep loving them anyway. Teens live in the minute they are in. Extremely intense emotion can be gone before you even have had a chance to process what happened. Long walks and exercise will help you persevere too!
“Teens live in the minute they are in. Extremely intense emotion can be gone before you even have had a chance to process what happened. ” Such great advice, thank you Wende!
I am a parent, not of little ones, or teens, or 20 somethings. My children are 40 somethings and I still feel ill-equipped and clueless as their mother. All the yucky stuff of diapers, diarrhea, spit-ups, etc. is done. I survived by the sheer Grace of God. Then we went through the “I’m too fat, I have nothing to wear, I don’t have any friends, and of course barely graduating, summer school, school suspensions, questionable friends, breaking curfew, etc. I survived by the sheer Grace of God. Now in the 40 somethings, the problems are bigger, more complex, and I can’t fix them like I fixed scraped knees and busted lips. It has been an excruciating journey through a son with alcoholism, now sober for 7 months, divorce, wayward grandson, and watching a daughter go through all the same struggles and concerns with her lovely 21 year old daughter, my granddaughter, that I did with her. But through it all, for 40 something years, my Loving Lord Jesus has been my Rock, my sanity’s saving Grace. And my children are beautiful, caring, loving, people today, not perfect, but good inside where it counts. My mantra has been for all these years is “Give them to God and hold on for the ride”. Blessings to all young mothers, have faith in yourself, do the very best you can, and trust our Lord for the rest.
“My mantra has been for all these years is “Give them to God and hold on for the ride”. Blessings to all young mothers, have faith in yourself, do the very best you can, and trust our Lord for the rest.”
Such beautiful and wise words — and I am praising God for your son’s sobriety! Hallelujah! xoxo
We are never finished being mothers, regardless of the age of our children. However, our roles change from centre stage when they are young to the periphery when they are “on their own”. I agree with the advice about knowing where teens are (cell phones are such a gift in this regard). I also agree, though, that in general the approach that works best is to trust your early training, just as you trust in God through prayer. Moving into adulthood is learning how to take responsibility for yourself and learning when to turn for help to parents or others. The temptation I often felt (and to which I sometimes inappropriately yielded) was to intervene when not asked to do so. Conflict resolution skills, such as teen squabbles, have to be learned. Stepping in often sends a message that there is no trust that the teen can learn from his or her mistakes. Love to all and deep appreciation for all the sharing.
Right back atcha, Jan, thank you for sharing! Such great advice.
Joanne Peterson says
I have grown children, and I have a 3 and 4 year old. I thought I knew a lot, but I’m realizing I don’t know very much. I have a grown daughter who is a prodigal and I have a grown son who is following hard after Jesus, both raised in the same home. It is just plain hard work, and we are all ill equipped. And then again we are not doing this alone because we do have Christ and He equips us as we seek Him. We need Him all of the time. This is still just as much how you are going to grow just like when your kids were small.
I have learned and am learning different lessons with each of my children. I’ve that Christ is ultimately in control of their lives, and I need to trust Him that He has a future and a hope for them and for me at the same time.
Because He is sovereign, He allows their lives to teach our children and is part of His plan to move forward in their lives, everything is used.
What I can say is pray, pray, pray, pray, and fast for them and be in the Word to hear from the Lord. Turn their lives over to God because He is just lending them to us. Ask to hear His voice throughout the day to tell you what to do to parent your children.
I have learned that because I love my children, and honestly try to do my best, that is what makes me a good parent. If my children make choices that are very poor, it is not a reflection on me. It is a reflection of their choices and need direction.
I for so long thought I was a bad parent, and parented in fear. I did not understand what was my role and what was the Lord’s role. So, I prayed, but took all of the responsibility. I now have learned that you can’t make a child do something. But, Jesus can make things happen that I can’t.
I now know my role is to love them, and make sure they know I love them, and to obey what I hear Jesus telling me to do, and pray for a change of heart, and breakthrough if this is stubborn behavior.
Asking other parents to come on board to pray and to ask for direction is definitely a gift for you.
Having your husband and you on the same page is important, actually vital and necessary in these teenage years. They need to know they are loved, and the parents are in this together.
Have an open door to talk and teach good communication skills and how to express what they are feeling. This is a very difficult time for them too. Show them you are on their side too and in this with them too.
I loved all your words, Joanne. Especially these:
“I for so long thought I was a bad parent, and parented in fear. I did not understand what was my role and what was the Lord’s role. So, I prayed, but took all of the responsibility. I now have learned that you can’t make a child do something. But, Jesus can make things happen that I can’t.”
hi..yes I have a 20 year old and now have a 10 year old..so I have seen these years straight up..i think its truthfully sharing what we believe with our children that helps raise them..and in that I mean religiously and personally…I have wept infront of my oldest son and he has come to hold me.i had no words but asked him if he could pray with me..he stepped up like a grown man with deep love for his mom.my ten year old comes to me seeing that I have lived many more years then him and asks me “what to do..” its refreshing as a mom to have these moments but no..no one ever has all the answers and every mom messes up when trying to help our kids..thats life.
my advice..guide them in the person Jesus was..humble,kind and be quick to tell the children “hey wait a minute that’s not right..” many parents sluff off a lot of negative attitudes or sarcastic attitude from their kids at any age and that just leads to more issues down the road.nip comments and attitudes quickly and they will turn out great and be great..thats my two cents
Thank you, great advice!
Oh, gosh, I am so with you and I have a toddler, two preteens AND a teenager. I am exhausted. You’re right – despite the incredible intensity of toddler tantrums, parenting a two year old is much more straightforward than parenting a ten and twelve year old. Plus, he naps. I can tell you this – one day you will wake up and realize that you aren’t pulling your hair out as much anymore over this new teen, that s/he is beginning to display the beautiful attributes of God you know were hiding in there when preteen hormones were king. And you even like them. I still have moments with our daughter where I look at her like she’s a total alien and she looks at me like I’m totally crazy, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel where she and I will be good friends one day. And it helps me get through the day. (Also, I’m pretty sure I’ve used a similar analogy of heaping coals with my 12 year old in regards to her 10 year old brother. Like I said, right there with you, sister!)
Haha! I’m glad you could relate to that coal analogy… I didn’t know if I should cringe at myself or give myself a high five. Our four kids seem to be spaced out the same as yours – it’s exhausting but crazy fun, and I so appreciate you speaking to me from a couple years down the road and telling me it’s going to be ok! Thank you Andrea!
I needed this post today! With an eleven and six year old, it’s harder- it feels harder- at this stage. And, knowing that I can’t as easily spill it out and work it through on the page because of privacy issues for a budding preteen, make it harder for me to work through. But God is awfully gracious to give us this community to learn from each other in.
Nodding my head, it’s so true! Thanks for adding your voice to the conversation, Missy! xo
Kate @ Songs Kate Sang says
I absolutely relate to this! (my oldest in 14). I also live in the Phoenix area 🙂 Maybe someday we will get to hug!
Beth WIlliams says
I feel clueless in most areas of life–especially the type of work I do! 🙁
I don’t have children, try dealing with aging parents. It can be quite difficult when one day they want this and the next day that. They think they want to move into assisted living and it is ok for a while, but then they hate it and turn on you. They say “you” made the wrong decision–the decision was entirely theirs. Getting medications straightened out can also be a hassle. In the end it is worth it to have peace of mind and know that you tried your best to shower them with the love they put into raising you!
Mary-Ann Winslow says
I am a mother of 4 adult children. Two boys & two girls ages 36,29,26,24. I had my first child at 16 years old and my 2nd child from a second marriage and #’s 3 & 4 from my 3rd marriage. Which, I am happy to say, has lasted for 27 years ONLY by the Grace of God! So, with those dynamics there has been lots of bickering, fighting, jealousy and hurts to deal with.
I basically grew up with my kids and the “season of personal growth” you speak of was not so personal because my kids had to watch helplessly as their mother transitioned from a major paradigm shift and an extremely painful season of life. This time profoundly affected our family and church community and should have destroyed us; but for God’s intervention. I say this to tell you no matter how bad we mess it up God uses it for good.
I have been doing lay counseling for 20 years mostly out of a need for it myself. LOL As a result of my many, many struggles, I have learned some answers to the struggles my kids face. The punch line is they think I’m the smartest person in the world! LOL
As helpless as you may feel, my bet is’ you have the answers they need because of God’s grace in your life! Be confident in His truth! It really is the wisdom the world and our kids are seeking.
One little thing that I attribute to the closeness and unbreakable bond that my 4 kids have now, is in a saying passed down and modeled by my parents. When my siblings and I or my kids were fighting my Mom passed on a saying that profoundly affected us all. It goes something like this; “you 4 have got to learn to get along because when your father and I are gone, all you will have is each other.”
There was an unspoken rule lived out in our family that said, you can fight and cry and get hurt and forgive because; “family is family and it’s all you have for better or worse.” For some reason this truth penetrated our hearts and the heart of my children, in a life changing way. Friends and acquaintances have commented on the closeness of our family for many years now and this bond came from those simple but true statements!
Blessings to you and your family,
Ginny Kubitz Moyer says
I can so relate to this. My oldest is seven now and over the last year or so, I’ve started to be much more conscious about the stories I share. Maybe it’s because he has a social network now that has a staying power beyond what he had in preschool, and I don’t want any really embarrassing stories to follow him through junior high and beyond. I don’t want him to have cause to say, “Mom, you totally ruined my social capital with that poop blog post.”
Interestingly enough, one of the biggest parenting challenges I’m finding now is the lack of time. It’s crazy to say that given that I am no longer dealing with wacky newborn schedules, but the swim lessons and school homework and birthday parties keep me hopping. I sometimes get nostalgic remembering the two-and-a-half hour naps my sons used to take.
Ginny Kubitz Moyer says
Oops, forgot my last point — which is what happens when my kids are chasing each other around the house as I attempt to type coherent thoughts! I do feel like every stage of parenting has its challenges and just when you think you’ve mastered one stage, you’re on to the next. Maybe this is the gift of the second child, and all subsequent children — you can keep using the knowledge you’ve gained, even if the child who taught it to you is no longer in the place where he/she needs it.
Anyhow, thanks for these raw and powerful and honest thoughts.
My children are now adults and looking back I think one of the most important things for me as a parent was making sure I spent time with my children and that our home was a fun place to be. Part of that thought process was if my home is not a fun place to be now, then when they got older and left they wouldn’t want to come home because it wasn’t enjoyable or fun. The most important thing was making sure my children knew I loved them unconditionally. I wanted them to know that I had made some very poor choices growing up and that they would probably make some poor choices too (which they did) but, those choices would not change my love for them. I might not approve of the choices they were making and the way they were living their life (they knew I didn’t approve of some of their choices) but, I LOVED THEM NO MATTER WHAT! My kids knew that and believed in my love and God’s love and that got us through some very difficult years. God gave your kids to you and He chose you to be their parents. He will equip you to be the best parent to them you can be!
I love this post, and I appreciate your honesty. We have 4 children, and when they were younger, there were many, MANY days when I felt just like you…ill-equipped and clueless. How do any of us even make it without the Lord? He provided some great friends along the way…every move, every stage. Some were just there for a season, and some have been there for the long haul. They were such great support and encouragement to us, so my suggestion is to seek out like-minded moms/families. You won’t do everything just like they do, bc all children are so different, and everyone parents differently. Our first child was born with Down Syndrome., and didn’t fit any examples in the parenting books I was given before his birth. So right away, our lives were very different from everyone else’s, and we parented differently. Our children are older now…late teens and early 20’s. I have never prayed so hard in my life. When they were younger, I prayed for strength, wisdom, discernment. Now that they are older, I pray for strength, wisdom, discernment. All the stuff we went through when they were tweens and teens, seemed so important…AND IT WAS, at the time. It’s just that now, the decisions that they are making seem way more weighty…college, choosing a mate, finding a career…decisions that can affect the course of their lives. Hang in there. Know that your feelings are very normal. As much as we try to teach our kids about God, I believe that God uses our children to teach US about HIM. I read the Bible differently, now that I’m a parent. I see God differently, because I have children. When He calls me His child, the way He guides, directs, disciplines, cares for and LOVES me…that’s just how we do with our kids. I “get” it, because of my kids. I can’t remember who said it, but there’s a quote that states: “God doesn’t call the equipped…He equips those He calls.” Even when you feel like you are messing up, keep on. God is making something beautiful out of it all, I just know it.
Angela Parlin says
Oh girl, I’m feeling a deep sisterhood here. My heart has been in this place so often lately as my oldest just turned 11, and his little brother’s only a year behind him, and I’m feeling like motherhood has changed DRASTICALLY in the last 2 years with these 2 pre-teens and have been trying to find the words to express what I’m working through.
I still have a 3 and 6 year old as well, and I’m familiar with the swing of things with these 2. It’s these uncharted territories that are far more complicated… For me it comes down to control. They are so much easier to control at 3 and even 6. I had no idea!!! I thought those were the tough ones to keep under control. 🙂 But this comment you mentioned said it all: “how hard it is to parent kids when they start having real MINDS in the game”. Oh, I love that! And KNOW it. 🙂 And need the advice of all these Mamas who have gone before. So thank you for writing this!
Parenting is full of stages since we are always changing and so are other people. As I deal with my mostly grown children it is “interesting”. One of the things I have learned is that we fool ourselves into thinking we’re in control when they’re little, only to wake up and realize it Aint’ So as they age. Never forget that your children have minds no matter How young. At they same time, know that they’re malleable no matter how Old, it just isn’t obvious. We are growing and changing, your marriage is growing, the way you relate is growing and it is All in flux. I’ve been told the 2 most impt things are to be flexible and teachable. Good advice and good characteristics to instill in the people you’re loving and doing life with.
On a practical note, for tweens Always try to keep those communication lines open. You do NOT want a sullen, uncommunicative teenager or twenty something. Keep loving, keep Asking and being interested in their world. Find out what/who they are and give them Some freedoms to find themselves. Do stuff with them, fishing, making bread, painting, all sorts of things so that they get to try lots of stuff, fail at lots of stuff, and learn what they like. Learn that “failure” is okay, learn that they can laugh it off and either try again or walk away. As they see you laughing and learning, they will learn to laugh and learn. The one thing I wish I’d “gotten” as a teen/tween is that we are all goofy, some people just hide it better than others. The “tween” years are all about their finding themselves. Help them with that and Help them Serve others, make dinner for the widow next door, serve at the food pantry together, whatever it takes to get them seeing beyond the end of their adorable noses.
I would love to just bring back the early years. The fun times – making salt dough, painting, coloring, going to the park for playdates and the zoo. Traveling when she was young. Now she is 23. Lives on welfare, married to a man from another culture. She came from God – as if he sent her with special blessings and wisdom to share with her clueless parents. Being an older parent did not give us any extra wisdom.
We do know we can Trust God. We cannot trust even ourselves. We all ultimately chose who we will follow in this world. I choose God. She chooses the culture and the world. Even at such a young age, her life has been brutal. Her choices; her anger; her rejection of the God who once spilled forth kindness…a friend to all. Parenting. I’m road weary. As harsh as this sounds, if I could just shut her completely out of my mind and heart, I would. Gone are the days of giggling and discovery. My husband and I keep putting one foot in front of the other – putting a smile on our faces. Shattered inside and out.
My oldest is 14 and I wrote just last week about being in the “weeds” of parenting. Funny that you used that term! God showed me so clearly that all the years of “gardening” and carefully tending to the hearts of our children DO bear fruit. In these tumultuous and often difficult teen years He gives us blooms to encourage us. The little years seem so easy now when I look back, but the fruit of all that labor is coming…even though the labor is very, very exhausting at times! The glimpses of the “adults” that my kids will become help me keep going and not lose the vision He has given me for their lives.