November 17, 2017

Dear Mom of Teens: it’s time we start talking about this

Nov11

Dear Moms of Teens - scoot up close and join me.



Dear Mom of Teens:

I am so glad you’re here.  I invite you to scoot up close and take a deep breath.

We are in this together. You know that right?

You know that there are millions of moms around the world loving, crying, yelling, hugging, encouraging, giving up, picking up, hurrying up, shutting up, hoping grades are up, and all around hoping they haven’t messed up those wonderfully, crazy, hormonal wonders we call our teens.

Because no one else quite understands how all those emotions can swirl around simultaneously in less than 24 hours, but I do.

I get it.

We get it. We understand. Moms of teens understand.

Dear Mom of Teens

We’re a unique group that needs to band together, cheer other on, and encourage one another to be honest on this journey of ours, but instead, we’re quiet. 

We keep this vast range of emotions to ourselves. Fear of judgement. Fear of being misunderstood.

We’re afraid to share about the real heart struggles because this parenting thing is harder than we imagined, with so many of their choices out of our control. We feel helpless at times and the mistakes our kids might be making have much more drastic consequences than a time out in the corner.

What happens when we admit all that and no one else understands or acknowledges? How do we know if we’re on the right track?

We long for the days when we were up all night with a baby who won’t sleep because at least we knew where they were. Now, we’re up all night because we have a teen who broke curfew or is at the prom or at a party and we pray they’re making wise choices.

Dear Mom of Teens - we are in this together. Raising Teenagers

One day our momma heart bursts with pride as we see glimpses of the amazing young adult they are becoming. We share long and reflective conversations about life, world views, and even witness remarkable critical thinking skills.  We celebrate their accomplishment and watch these grandiose steps towards maturity and realize that this is finally their defining moment.

We feel they’ve finally rounded the corner and arrived, but the next day, they’re calling their friends into the bathroom to see how long of a log they’ve just laid. We stand back, dumbfounded, wondering how those two distinct dichotomies took place in one day. (I’m just saying. Boys will be boys, no matter what they age.)

So why aren’t more moms of teens sharing?

Why aren’t we talking about the intermingling of challenges that include both unspeakable joy and sorrow?

Here’s where I lay out my credentials to speak about this topic.

My undergraduate degree is in Christian Education with an emphasis in Psychology, focusing on the Junior and Senior High ages. For years, I worked as a Youth Director for teens and thought I knew everything there was to know about them…until I had them myself, or even more accurately, until our eldest turned 16 1/2. (Yes, he made the first three years pretty easy, as written about in one of my very first posts, until he decided to not make it so easy. ;))

So any previous “credentials” or classes on the subject of teens, just disregard because PHEW, there’s nothing those textbooks teach you.

taylor david

Now I speak only from experience.

Life lessons learned through the nitty gritty, get down and dirty, grab hold of the heart of my child and never ever let go, kind of experience.

The kind of experience that says just because they can feed, clothe and even drive themselves, doesn’t mean they need you any less. This kind of experience says, “BUCKLE UP and get ready for a ride, because they need you now more than ever.” They need you at midnight when you are tucked in bed, exhausted, but they’ve gotten a second wind and are finally ready to talk.

The kind of experience that prays for them to fly and soar and impact their generation for good, but also the kind of experience that prays for failures to occur while still under our roof, so that when they do (and they will fail, repeatedly and you’ll survive), we are there to guide them, walk along side them and love them unconditionally through it.

Raising Teenagers

The kind of experience that embraces the old adage, “This too shall pass.” but sometimes, you don’t want it to pass because the sweet and the sour mixture often creates the most amazing moments.

The kind of experience that says, YOU ARE NOT DEFINED BY YOUR CHILDREN!!

No matter how much it feels that way, their successes and their failures do not determine your worth.

Listen up on this one!!

Their successes do not make you a better mom and their failures do not make you less than. 

You have been given this child for a reason and you are the BEST MOM for that teen. Your value is not determined by what others think of you or even what you think of yourself. You have been uniquely chosen by God to mother this child and He does NOT make any mistakes.

Oh my, I’m reminding myself of this importance too, so we might need to pour ourselves some coffee.

I’ve been a mom of teens for nearly nine years, nine glorious, tiring, mystifying, exhilarating years. Yes, we had four teens in the house at the same time. Right now my husband and I have a 20, 19, 17, 15 and 11 year old, so I have 9 more years left of the teenage years and just typing that completely exhausts me. I’m exhausted, but I’m also incredibly fulfilled.

Raising teens

It’s an honor, a joy and a privilege to be a small part in molding, shaping and walking along side these amazing kids as they grow, make mistakes, learn from those challenges and begin to take flight.

To think we are raising the next generation of world changers  causes me to pause. I reminded that these children are true gifts that  we’ve been given to steward for a short time. Reality hits;  that clock is ticking and the moments are rushing by quicker than I’d ever imagined.

While I wouldn’t wish these years away for anything; they are beautiful in so many ways, it’s more challenging and humbling than I ever thought possible, yet more fulfilling as well. Those three feelings just don’t tend to hit all on the same day.

Terrible Teen years? Never!! Terrible teen moments sprinkled here and there? Definitely.

These are all things that are important to talk about and there needs to be a safe space to hash out the more difficult topics. If the only moms of teens you’re hearing from are those whose child got a high score on the SAT and declaring it all over facebook, please know there are FAR more moms  just hoping their child knows what the past tense of SAT really is and that they’re picking the underwear up off the floor.

family photo furman

Moms of Teens, remember, we are in this together, even if at times you feel so very alone with your struggles.

I can guarantee you when you’re feeling alone and unsure, navigating that dark alley blindfolded,  there is a beautiful light at the end of that tunnel. In the midst of the exhaustion, just keep traipsing through because it’s going to be SO worth the sacrifice.

And I can’t wait to celebrate with you!!

Is any of this resonating? Do we need a place to talk?

Slowly, I’m warming up to the idea of spending more time tackling motherhood from a raising teen perspective because these years are so critical and believe it or not, also some of my favorite.

It’s a vulnerable place to be for all of us because, at least in our home, there are so many celebratory moments of growth and maturity, side by side with difficult ones.  I’ve promised our kids that there’s nothing I would ever write or post about on social media that they aren’t comfortable with me sharing, so they’d have to sign off on topics.

While I’m still in the thick of raising teens for many more years, we do have two thriving in college, so I feel as if I’ve just jumped that first hurdle and can start writing about this a bit more.

But trust me, I know now that our parenting never stops because just when I closed the chapter on our eldest’s teen years and I thought everything was smooth sailing, I encountered a story so crazy, so hard to wrap my brain around that it’s quite clearly a reality TV show, so of course, I wrote the trilogy, I JUST CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP.

Trust me, you’ll want to read it!

(For more topics on parenting and motherhood, browse my 31 Days with a Mentor Mom series.)


Comments

  1. After spending the last 5 days off with my 17,15,13,13 year olds..I really needed to hear this tonight. Thank you!

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  2. Love this! Thank you for sharing it. Everyone shares all the cute toddler and baby stuff, but rarely do you see posts like this that keep it real. Thanks for keeping it real!

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  3. “Their successes do not make you a better mom and their failures do not make you less than.” Thank you – I needed to hear that. Looking forward to hearing more about your life with teens as I will next month become the mother of a teenager!

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    Jen Reply:

    you are so welcome!! I continually need to remind myself of that as well. xoxo

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  4. Thank you, I really needed this tonight! I have 4 teens & last week included a few of those “rough teen moments”. And I began to listen to those lies saying what a failure of a mom I am. But I am thankful that God broke through that & showed me truth!
    I am really looking forward to hearing more from your experience! Thanks again for the encouragement!

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  5. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this! I’m a new college graduate, a twenty-something dorm mom to thirteen teenagers in middle-of-nowhere-Montana. It can be SO HARD, and I’ve failed a lot, but I love these kids.

    Thanks for reminding me that my worth is not in them. Thanks for reminding me of the importance of sacrifice. Thank you so much for writing this! I appreciate you!

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  6. Yes, please keep the encouragement coming! From one hour to the next, you don’t really know what’s coming around the emotional bend. Who would have thought we might envy those midnight feeding days!

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  7. Just last night I had a rare girls night out with 6 other wonderful ladies. Only two of us are in the throws of raising teens. I made the comment to the other mom of teens, that parents of teens are some of the loneliest people. Your post nailed it. Thank you for reminding this mother’s heart that we are in this together.

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  8. Great post! You are so right, you can’t make this stuff up! As I reading your trilogy, I just kept thinking that this sounds like something that would happen to my oldest!

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  9. Laurie Harris says:

    This post shares what I have thought about a lot in the last few months. Most Mom groups are for new moms and moms of younger children, and we seem to forget that moms of teens struggle just as much, if not more sometimes, with what is going on with their teens. As a mother of 2 beautiful girls, 21 and 17, I am awed, dumbfounded, excited, scared, worried, etc., etc, etc., by what is happening in their lives from day to day. My girls both have struggles in different areas, but we talk, and for that I am blessed. We talk about everything (sometimes I wish we didn’t), but it has kept them, and me, honest, and accountable. Their friends are amazed that they tell me EVERYTHING, good or bad, but I hope that is also setting examples for their friends that it’s ok to talk about things with their parents.

    Thank you so much for writing this post. We as Moms of Teens should stick together, share our ups and downs, triumphs and trials. I really enjoy your posts.

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    Jen Reply:

    It sounds like you have raised some Truth Tellers. 🙂 Our eldest is the same way and I have echoed often your sentiments that he tells it all (and often things I didn’t want to know). I tell him often that I’d rather have him tell me everything than be a hypocrite.

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  10. So I am considering being a bit more vulnerable on my blog about some of the issues we have dealt with in autism land/ parenting/ teens etc– but I have always hesitated because I never know where the line should be drawn with regards to privacy issues for my kids. There have been things I have blogged about that while they were about my kids or affected my kids (like school or our vaccine schedule etc) were never really about the KIDS exactly—but there have also been some more difficult situations that I would love to have the cathartic release of journaling and sharing with others that either GET it and just are also too tired or too shy to share or with those that have been there done that and have hope to share or with those that have not yet crossed into those same realms as a way to say—if you can implement things NOW to avoid THIS later please do….

    So what are some guidelines in how I could best go about this?

    Don’t be afraid to say “just don’t” if you think that is the answer too. I am just curious as to if it has the potential to do more harm than good-

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  11. THANK YOU!!!!!
    I so needed to hear this. Right now I have 14 1/2 yr old twins ((boy/girl) and a 11 yr old boy and with the start of high school this year, it seems we’ve hit this teenager thing head-on. As a single mama to these three, there are days that I struggle to keep my head above water. And honestly there are many more days that I just want to stick my fingers in my ears, sing La, La, La while rocking back and forth hoping it all just goes away. 🙂 This stage of parenting is hard but I am finding so much joy at times. They’re becoming actual people that on good days i can converse with and that excites me for the future when we can be best friends. But for now, I’m the mom that will not always be ‘cool’ or fun but by the grace of God I will be fully present and always there.
    But you are so right, it’s lonely at times. Many people in my social circle have small children or grown children and sometimes it’s just hard to connect and understand each other.

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  12. This is so true! I have 2 teens ages 19 (will be 20 in a few weeks) and 16. Last year my then 18 year old got a DUI and wrecked his vehicle away at college. Thankfully, no one was hurt or in the car with him. We raised him “right” by being involved in church, good friends, etc. After his wreck I felt so alone and like a failure as a mom or parent. I felt like I had some a large target on my chest that read “parent failure” at church and among my friends. It was so disheartening because I really had no one to talk to about these struggles. All other parents were bragging on their child doing so well at school, on scholarship, etc. while we were struggling to just wake up the next morning. No one wanted to hear or be involved with our “legal issues” – it was almost like they were afraid they would catch it themselves. It is hilarious now as I look back on it. My children aren’t perfect and they make mistakes, just like I do, but it would have been nice to have someone there as support. Our church staff refused to reach out to my son, other than pray for him 2.5 hours away. Pray for him, not with him on the phone, etc. My son was lost and in a deep depression (we had just lost my dad suddenly 2 weeks prior to his DUI/accident) and to see his friends and those parents step away and pretty much turn their heads was eye opening. I wish us moms did support each other better!

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    Christine Wright Reply:

    Paige, sending a huge hug.

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  13. Amen! Yes, more on teens PLEASE!

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  14. Sweet Jen, love you for posting this (and the ladies who commented). So enjoyed our honest talk in the last few minutes of Allume. Grateful for mamas who bravely step out first…

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  15. Would love to read more about your mothering journey! I have one teenage daughter and one pre-teen daughter – and there are delightful days as well as hard ones. Thanks for your encouragement here!!

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  16. I hear what you are saying and yes, it needs to be said more. We raised 15 children, all of whom are adults now, and we went through a lot over the years with no support. 13 of them were special needs adopted and came with a whole set of crazy behavior that no one knew how to handle, no matter who we asked! I do my best to support other families because I don’t want to see another family going it alone like we did. Isolation is not our friend and families need support. They need to find others who “get it.” Here is my family blog that kept me sane through the years – a kind of free therapy! http://www.momofmany,wordpress.com. Here is my present blog, the one I do for fun and where I flaunt my freedom. (Empty nesting is such fun!) http://www.lovemydiyhome.com. Blessings to you and I’m glad you are reaching out to other families.

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  17. I want to kiss your feet and buy you a giant Starbucks coffee. I needed this post SO BADLY! I’ve felt like an island. Many days I feel like a failure and emotions seem to get the best of me. Add two teen girls to the mix and it’s the perfect storm. There are days that I raise my fist (not really, but you know what I mean…) and say to myself, “I did everything thing I was “supposed” to do and THIS is what I get?!” So ashamedly selfish, I know. But it is how I feel at times. I’m so glad you addressed the crazy roller coaster that can dip and turn in less than 24 hours. I’ve said “I love having teens in the house” and then within 12 hours I’m guiltily thinking, “If we can just make it five more years…” To any other human, besides a fellow mother of teens, it sounds insane. But we are here, in the trenches and I am SO incredibly thankful for your honesty, transparency, and willingness to broach this almost taboo topic. It IS wonderful and painful and exciting and exhausting all rolled into one. Bless you, dear friend! xoxoxo

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    Jen Reply:

    oh friend – we are truly in it together, aren’t we? The next post though needs to focus on how Raising Teens in general is a challenge, but raising them with a biblical world view? That’s whole different level of needing to be transparent, right?

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  18. Two girls, 17 and 15. And they are my greatest joy and my greatest heartache. I find myself questioning now more than ever if I have taught them all they need to know or enough of what they need to know. My oldest will head to college next year- so scary. Neither one really believes in God, despite my beliefs and example. I definitely feel like a failure in that respect even though I know their journey is not mine. Guilt is a terrible-useless- emotion.

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  19. Hope you don’t mind me jumping in as I have young adult children. Your words of loneliness ring a bell. We have had our challenges. Moms (friends?) avoided our family.

    One thing that truly helped me was a woman 10 years older who befriended me. She had been through it all. Her children were now settled, married and working. It was reassuring to hear her words of wisdom. Another thing that helped was turning inward and preparing the empty nest for my husband and myself. I prayed that God would intervene and forced myself to beleive that He would do so. He has been faithful in filling in the blanks for those things we felt we did not prepare them for.

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  20. Thank goodness I found Joanie Geltman parenting blog, she lays it all out about struggles with teens in today’s crazy world. Yes she is upfront, and yes it is sometimes racy or seems out there, but that is the world our teens are exposed today. Her latest book on Amazon is excellent. I do think mom bloggers should not lay out their kids mistakes…let Joanie do it, then read her professional advice on what to do and say next. Congrats on making it through all those teen years Jen! I like the last response that said she is praying for preparation for the empty nest years. Smart!

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  21. I want you to know the timing on this post is of the Lord. Thank you!

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    Jen Reply:

    You are so welcome!! (hugs)

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  22. Linda Bird says:

    Having survived the teen years of daughters I am living proof that every mother can get through them. They were not always easy, sometimes gut wrenching hard, but in the end we all grew. They are young adults now who I am proud to be called their mother. I wish some people (I will not name) understood moms aren’t identified by how their children do. We are not measured by their successes nor can we relive our childhood vicariously through them.

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  23. This is exactly why I started a private Facebook page called “Moms of Teenage Daughters Connect”. Yes it is more focused for moms with teen daughters because I have a 14 year old but for the same reason, to have a safe place to connect with other Moms who know exactly what I am going through & can relate! Thanks for sharing!

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    Jen Reply:

    That’s wonderful, Stacy. It’s such a unique stage of life and each child is SO very different. It’s important to have that safe place, for sure.

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  24. Thank you for the encouragement! Stumbled across this post at the opportune moment. ❤️

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    Jen Reply:

    You are so welcome. I am so glad it was timely.

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  25. You just made my hearts frown turn upside down. I always know we will get through it but I also always forget, her issues are not reflecting anything I did wrong. We just begun our journey with teens i have a 14 1/2 year old son and a 13 1/2 year old daughter, two more younger daughter’s and I just sat here crying how i dont know that i can do this two more times. But after reading your post i know its not that bad and i will make it. My difficult child will find her way soon.

    Thanks for this!
    Jem

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    Jen Reply:

    Yes, yes, yes…she will find her way. Unfortunately, that’s not always in our timing. We are still pushing through with ours, but you’ll get there (she’ll get there)….press on. 🙂 xoxox We are in this together.

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  26. God has used you tonight to comfort me. I feel truly blessed to have happened upon this. I mirror Gretchen’s comments, except I have boys. One in college, but number two is in his Senior year. 24 hour roller coaster… Spot on! Thanks for your wonderful words. Keep it up, please!

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    Jen Reply:

    oh Debbie – I am so glad to hear that. It is such a roller coaster, but we will hang in there knowing that He is in control and nothing is beyond His hand. Praying for all of us in the midst of raising these blessings. xoxox

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  27. Wow. This made me cry. My oldest of 6 (14 yo boy) is already testing me. We’ve had a rough week and I’m struggling. This was exactly what I needed to read to help me understand. Just… thank you a million times over.

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    Jen Reply:

    You are so welcome!! I wish I could tell you the days will get easier, but they will probably get tougher, yet its worth every minute.:) Hang in there because there are so many sweet moments in between. xoxox

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  28. I really loved what you shared-thank you for your honest, loving post. I have a 20 year old and an 18 year old and it is my experience as well that although moms of babies talk endlessly about sleep and other challenges, moms of teens don’t-it is so hard and so painful at times and the mistakes they make are so challenging like drugs, etc. that I think parents don’t want to share because they feel so vulnerable and they don’t want to reveal their teens difficulties which I can understand in order to protect them.
    Much love and light,
    Abriete

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