Teenagers… What can I say about raising a teenager, a pre-teen, and a tween? Take me back to when I had 3 under 4, for I do believe those were the underappreciated days of my life. Although now that I have typed those words, I have a feeling that I will one day say those words about today as well, but I can’t quite imagine that. I read somewhere once that raising teenagers is like trying to nail Jello to a tree. Guys, I’m struggling!!!
I truly want to just sit here today and reminisce about the infant and toddler years. The days of putting my babies in cute clothes(they were babies so everything was cute), loading them into wagons, double strollers, baby bjorns, and taking them to the park for hours, having picnics, reading endless stories, going to the library for story time every Wednesday morning, playdates, PBS shows…
Now life looks like food and friends. When my teenager and pre-teen leave the house, I tell them 3 things, “I love you, make good choices, be nice.” LETTING GO IS HARD. I think it is so hard for me because I remember those teenage years so vividly. In my quiet rebellion I had no boundaries. I knew very clearly what was right and wrong and I was a shy goody-goody for a long time. Until I felt like nobody cared. And when I felt like nobody cared, I didn’t care either, and I made a lot of bad choices. For those of you who knew me then, I see you nodding your heads. For those of you who know me now, I can testify to that last statement and I would be an open book if you have any questions. But not only is letting go hard, being a teenager is hard. I tell me kids to be nice and make good choices and that I love them, but before they even wake up I am praying for them. I am praying for them to be a good friend. I am praying for them to have good friends. I am praying for their friends. Sometimes I am praying for them to make new friends.
My hubby and I are working hard on boundaries. As we let our kids learn to navigate this world, they need boundaries in place for when they slip, for when they fall. I could have used some boundaries big time. I remember one time I was going out to play with the neighborhood kids at night and I asked my mom or dad when I should be home and truthfully never got an answer. I never had a curfew or anyone to answer to about what I was doing for the entirety of my teenage years. So as I look at my almost 15 year old, I almost feel a sense of panic and urgency like, I want to do this right, but I’m not sure how. He tells us we are too strict or that everyone else is allowed to ____ (fill in the blanks). But alas, we are not raising our kids to fit in. We are trying to raise our kids to be good human beings. We want them to learn from mistakes but we don’t want to set them up for failure. It is all such a fine line! We want to encourage them and equip them. We want to give them wings so that one day they will fly and succeed. We want them to have boundaries and to obey authority-that is real world stuff, stuff that we have as adults, stuff that if not taught as a child, they will struggle with as adults. We want them to serve others, to love others, to be kind, to do good things, and to love the Lord.
So, yeah, raising teenagers is like nailing Jello to a tree. Their emotions are all over the place, their priorities are wacky, they are learning and growing, and their brains aren’t even fully developed yet so they are impulsive and indecisive among other things. Parenting is hard. Setting boundaries is hard. Saying what you mean and meaning what you say is hard. Follow through is hard. Loving the unlovable is hard. Having your kids be mad at you is hard. Truth be told, I’m not sure I will survive these teen years. Hubby reminded me the other day that in a few years they will ALL be teenagers. How are we going to make it through? Prayer, prayer, and more prayer.
Do you have teens? I would love to hear about your current situation. Or maybe you have raised teens already? I’d love to hear how you survived. Please comment below.