When your teenager makes you angry

Alright my dear friends, I have stepped over the edge of raising little people, into the unchartered waters of teens. Let me start by acknowledging that teenagers can bring a brand new set of triggers. Shoot! TEENAGERS CAN BE TRIGGERS! Strength cased in flesh, pushing for independence, sure they know more than we do and fast to tell us so... Of course, they are also WONDERFUL: interesting, thoughtful, and surprisingly unique. But what's a mom and dad to do...


When Teenagers


Here's our story:

It really began in those pre-teen years for us, when emotions flared (whether sad or angry or overwhelmed) and he turned suddenly to his room and tears flowed. I was thankful then that I had read books and blogs beforehand to prepare me for this sudden shift. Simply knowing it was coming helped prepare me for some of the changes. Not that I had all the answers, but I knew that my battle wasn't with my emotionally explosive / fragile boy; this battle was to be fought at his side, teenager and parent.

He needs me on his team, sometimes even holding his hand, as we walk through this transition into manhood together.

As for the most practical advice I can give: When his moods swing and his demands are unrealistic, I remember what it's like to have hormones shifting and shooting through my own body on a monthly bases. Sometimes I feel (and even act) like a crazy woman! Taking a look at my own hormonal tendencies helps me to parent form a place of grace. Of course, this is what the Christian life is like in all our relationships, inside and outside of our family. We've been forgiven much, and so we are quick to forgive. God has been long-suffering with us, and so we must suffer-long with others. God has been just and required righteousness from us, training us through His Word, and now we have the privilege to walk alongside our children as they grow up, pointing them to righteous choices and behavior... even when they are overcome by moodiness and anger.

Grace, long-suffering, and on-going discipleship will look different for each one of us - and different for mothers and fathers and daughter and sons. Ask the Lord to give you insight into what this will look like in your brand of family. For us, my husband has started getting away one-on-one with our boys for "man time." I have friends with girls where the father's have taken to "dating his daughters."

As a mom of boys I bring the Word with me to the breakfast table, over pancakes on Saturday mornings. We still read good literature aloud around the dinner table too. And I still flop down on the bed at night with my oldest, and make myself available to hear his heart.

There are plenty of nights I tickle my man-child's broad back or rub his gangly, hairy legs, and explain to him that just as his body is changing, so are his hormones. "Your voice is getting lower.. your smell is getting stinker.... your emotions are shifting from little boy emotions to man emotions."

Sometimes he wants to talk, other times he just needs me near - not judging or lecturing or nagging about the emotional melt-down he'd just had.

Now that we've made the leap into teenager-dom, these hormonal shifts have come more regularly. And sometimes I forget what is happening in his body and respond in a primal, quick-tempered, knee-jerk sort of way to the behavior that is annoying and obnoxious! But the truths about gentleness we learned when they were young still apply today... perhaps now more than ever!

Ladies, whether your kid is 8, and working through angst going to school; or 3 and figuring out his place in this family with a new baby stealing the show; or 14 and transitioning into high school, finding his own two feet to stand on amidst peer pressure and a heavy school load... whatever they are going through and however they are acting out, our kids need us to slow down and remember that their behavior is just the branches of a great big tree, waving in the tempest storms of present circumstances. Of course we see the leaves falling and the branches whipping in the wind... but God is calling us as parents to look deeper - perceive what is happening down in the root system of our children's lives.

And if you still can't get a grapple on your short tempered emotions, you must take a look at the roots going down into the soil of your own life. Are we planted steadfastly by streams of living water, drinking deeply from God's transforming Word? Or are we on social media complaining with our girlfriends about our teenager's (or whatever age) behavior? Where are we drinking from? Where are we turning to for wisdom? Where are we going for discernment each mothering day, each mothering stage?

I feel so honored that many of you come to this place for encouragement and wisdom. I pray that I use every opportunity to turn your attention to the One who gives all wisdom when we ask; provides all strength when we are weak; and gave us His Holy Spirit to counsel and guide us through each life season (ours and our children's.)

Ladies, today, take your questions and your burdens to God; ask Him for insight in whatever it is you need right now.

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2, NASB)




For more encouragement each triggered mothering day, sign up to receive email updates. And if you would like to delve deeper into God's transforming love, trusting Him to help you through your angry-mom tendencies, I suggest you grab a copy of Triggers: Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses. By the sheer grace of God, hearts and homes are being transformed through the pages of this book (beginning with mine.)


Additional Resources

For those of you who would like to understand what is happening in your teen's developing brain, Your Teenager is Not Crazy, by Jerusha and Jeremy Clark, is a wonderful, educational read!

Parenting Teens with Love and Logic, by Foster Cline and Jim Fay, is an exceptional resource when trying to understand and apply real life, natural consiquences that will help teenagers prepare for adulthood.




affiliate links were included in this post.

When Mom Needs a Good Cry... CRY OUT!


I drove clear across town multiple times yesterday, back and forth between homeschooling one and shuttling two. Wednesday's are long. At day's end we made it home and I made dinner, then we made our way out into the dark night for youth groups at church. Hours later, when the kids were finally tucked in bed, I turned my attention to the kitchen sink, piled high with dinner dishes, and I felt an old familiar pang. I felt like a victim again.  


It's been a while since I added to our ongoing "You are not a victim, you're a mom" series. If the term resonates with you on a gut level, you may want to start here at the beginning of our journey out of the pit of a victim mentality and on to the high places of sweet surrender in this sacrificial role of motherhood.

Ladies, God did a good job when he made you mom to your specific kids and placed you in your specific set of circumstances. Though the dishes and the laundry and the bills all pile up... your family needs you to keep putting one graceful foot in front of the other. As you plunge your hands into scourging sink water, remember your own hot refining and lean into the heat. When the suds rise up, remember the cleansing God offered 2,000 years ago, once for all. For you and me and our complaining hearts. Lean into the purity that belongs to you, clean and covered. Don't fall into the mud again, dear mom; the mud of bitterness, of harsh nagging and complaints.

I've no doubt you get weary. Sister, so do I. But God isn't calling us in our weakness to do anything He can't muscle with His strength, so bring it to Him - morning, noon, and nighttime too.

[Tweet "God isn't calling us in our weakness to do anything He can't muscle with His strength"]

There's nothing wrong with a good old fashioned cry session. Let the kiddos hop out of the minivan as you go ahead and lay your head on the steering wheel for a bit and cry. Tell Him all about your weak and weary places. However, if you truly want to see the power of God flow into your powerlessness, don't just cry... CRY OUT. "Lord, I need You. I need You to show yourself mighty and strong today."

Bring your burdens to Him, without ceasing. Siphon His strength by grabbing hard to the hem of his holiness.

Like the woman with the issue of blood, who dared take hold of the frayed corners of Jesus's cloak... come to Him in faith, with all your own issues. What's issuing forth from your life right now? Issuing out of your mouth - out of your heart and into your home. Perhaps it's been an issue for years - exasperated sighs and unholy thoughts, words that tear down and hands that have lost all gentleness.

Reach out and cry out, and press into the hot water of refinement, remembering that the cleansing has already been done on your behalf and mine. He has healed every disease threatening to issue out of us again. Believe it, when you're tired. Believe it when your children continue to struggle with issues of their own. Believe it and cry out:

I love the LORD, because He hears My voice and my supplications.Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.

For You have rescued my soul from death, My eyes from tears, My feet from stumbling.

I shall walk before the LORD In the land of the living.

(Psalm 116:1, 8-9, NASB)

Reach out and cry out, yes, but also keep walking it out. Walk it out before the Lord in the land of the living, in the midst of the people you are living with.

They need you to keep doing your job, day after day.

When there are dishes, do them.

When there is homework, help them.

When there are fears, quiet them.

When there are growing pains, rub them.

When there are dirty clothes, clean them.

When there is sin, recognize that your job is to correct, and then correct.

When there is joy, recognize that your job is to celebrate, and celebrate.

When they are melting down from too much sugar, recognize it is your job to help them eat healthy. And you do that too.

And when they are tired, whining at the end of another long day, recognize it is your job to help usher them to bed. And you grab a few winks yourself.

It is so easy to feel the victim each mothering day, but they are simply children being children, and they need you to keep on being mom.

One foot in front of the graceful other.

Keep walking it out, taking your issues to Him. Remembering, He didn't make us victims in our weakness, He made us victorious by HIs strength. He didn't make us victims, He made us moms!


If you don't miss any future posts from our on-going "You are not a victim, you're a mom" series, sign up to have them delivered straight to your email inbox.

It's common to find yourself overwhelmed by your children's wrong behavior in this intense season of mothering. However, if you are exploding in inappropriate ways toward your loved ones, I encourage you to grab a copy of Triggers: Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses today.

What to do with parenting stress - Triggers Study Guide

Perhaps your summer was hectic, running back and forth between their sun-soaked sprinkler play and afternoon bike rides, the umpteenth reapplication of sunscreen and popsicle parties, followed by last minute barbecues and late night movies on the couch! But now there's school and packing lunches and matching socks, sorting through newsletters and keeping track of class parties, making it to soccer practice on time, keeping the baby from falling asleep in the car, and helping with homework... not to mention fitting dinner into the evening routine. It's a different sort of stress. But there's aways stress. Whether you're a stay at home mom, a work at home mom, a traditional working mom, a single mom, or a married mom. There's always stress.

As far as my stress levels are concerned, I've been under the gun these past few weeks, with a crazy twitchy trigger finger.

Why? You may ask. Well, it's had a lot to do with the launch of the new Triggers Study Guide - which released today!

(insert confetti)

(insert sweeping confetti up quickly, because sometimes a mess can make me stressed. It's one of my triggers.)

Speaking of my own personal triggers... as Amber Lia and I wrote the triggers study guide we discovered that there's lots of stress bound up in the writing of a book and sharing it with our people online. What with all of our little people (seven boys between our two families!) continually wanting our attention, adamant that they're hungry... and out of clean underwear... in need of another glass of water before bed.

(insert scream)

(insert cool water to the face)

In case you didn't know it... writing Triggers was a great big trigger for me!


(I'm not a good multi-tasker)

(see chapter 27)

But I digress. Here's what I think: Chasing any dream beyond the dream-come-true of motherhood can bring on crazy amounts of stress - even when it's ministry! Especially when it's ministry related! After all, we've got an enemy who would love to rip all of us ministering mamas apart with stress, so that our stressed out nerves come undone and we blow like a left-over 4th of July bottle-rocket, one week into the school year! Nothing makes us feel less qualified as a mom than getting inappropriately angry with our kids.

Can I get an Amen?

Remember the ole adage, "The devil made me do it."

But you and I both know, as sure as we have an enemy up to no good, we have an advocate who can see us straight through the stress!



That quote above, ^^^ that there's my most favorite quote from the brand new Triggers Study Guide! I speak it over myself regularly, believing it's true.


[Tweet "When you're too stressed to see straight, He'll see you straight through the stress. #triggersbook "]


Yes. He. Will. It's a promise.


"When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD; he brought me into a spacious place. The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid." (Psalm 118:5-6, NIV)


Sweet friends, His ongoing, saving presence is promised to every man, woman, boy, and girl who puts their faith in His redeeming right arm! If you are a believing mama who is so used to fighting stress you start fighting your loved ones... God wants to see you through your stress better.

Though Satan loves to keep us distracted, toy with our feelings, and stir up the stress and the strife with his twisted little finger, God says, "This one's mine."

So we keep our eyes on Him, and He leads us safely through.

No matter the trigger. No matter the stress.



Summertime Parenting - parenting right when our kids keep doing wrong


Before we focus on any one trigger (what they do incessantly that causes us to explode like a midsummer bottle rocket) let's simply remember what is true: Though they act childish, we're still the adults. (winter, spring, summer, fall...)


[Tweet "When our kids do wrong, it's our job to keep parenting right."]


I know this is true, because I get to practice it each and every summer day. You see, there's still a lot of conflict in my home  between my boys. Sometimes I indulge, feeling like a victim, and respond in exasperated anger, but then I remember... Triggers are merely opportunities to keep doing the good parenting! Even in the summertime.

Especially in the summertime, with all that concentrated togetherness.

So... who needs to keep doing some good parenting this week? If you're worn out, halfway through summer, and they're whining and complaining... you don't get to. No you don't. Their whining is simply an invitation for you to keep parenting well. And if they're fighting with one another and fighting with you? Again, it's not your job to fight back. You're the adult.

"Let us not grow weary in doing good for in due season (whether winter, spring, summer or fall) we will reap if we do not lose heart!" (Galatians 6:9)

Press on in the good parenting. It's your job! Of course they have a job too... It's their job to push against your boundaries - begging for more screen time, begging for cookies all afternoon - it's how they learn to make good choices for themselves on the other side of growing up. It's how they come to find their own power, by leaning into yours - pushing up and rubbing hard against your boundaries, your power. It's good and normal. Hold firm to what's best for them, though it wearies you something awful; hold onto your boundaries. Let me affirm you! This is hard stuff, but you don't have to fight your kids. Let them ask for the moon, but give them only what you can - what is good for them -  and say no to what they can't have.

Will they keep fighting? Perhaps... but you don't have to fight back.




Use a soft voice and remember that God did a good job when He made you their mom. If the kids are talking nasty, don't you join them. Excuse them to their rooms and remind them that no one in the family is allowed to talk nasty.

"Encourage one another and build each other up." (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Make sure you're getting some exercise and drinking plenty of water (you and the kids.) Watch your sugar intake too, and set some boundaries around other coping mechanisms that can become idols in a mom's life. Alcohol in the afternoon, and time on your phone pulling away from the chaos as you smooth your angst-y nerves.

Summertime triggers are opportunities to parent, not excuses to pull away, slack off, and play the victim.

How do I know this? Because I'd like to pull away more afternoons than I care to admit! I'd absolutely like to pull away to lick my wounds... but most summer days there isn't space for that. So let's press into summer and press into Christ and press on into the good parenting. Grace and good parenting (and a popsicle or two) will get you through.


[Tweet "This summer... let's press on into the good parenting. "]



A very sincerely thank you to Amber Lia, my dear friend and co-author of our book Triggers: Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses, for coining the phrase, "Keep doing the good parenting."

It is my own personal mantra, every single day!


To receive the rest of our SUMMERTIME TRIGGERS series directly to your email inbox, sign up here.


Summertime Blues - an open letter to summer



Dear Summer,

You started off strong, with lemonade stands and trips to the zoo. You showed off your stuff with perfect temperatures, plenty of playdates and poolside popsicles. The kids all passed out early, drained from long, fun days.

Well done, Summer!  You. Owned. June.  

Then along came July, with your soaring temperatures… and my short fuse got lit right about the fourth of July.

What happened to this laid-back pool-side mama? What have you done to me? And why can’t I find anyone’s bathing suit bottoms and swim goggles? And why are the children fighting one another and why am I fighting everyone back? And “No you can’t have another popsicle!”

Dear, sweet, much anticipated Summer, you’ve got to know what happens to us when you turn it up past 100 degrees, with 98% humidity! The children wake up disgruntled, begging to watch “one more movie” before 8am. The kiddie pool pops from the heat. THE HEAT alone does it! And the house is in a constant state of awful.



[Tweet "Sometimes a messy hot house makes a hot mess out of a mom! #triggersbook http://amzn.to/29PA04M"]


And the slip-n-slide has all but killed our grass. My husband dragged it out to the garbage can last Wednesday, with a train of crying kids in his wake.

We’re halfway through the summer, but I’m singing The Summertime Blues because it’s only 11am here and they’re all begging for an indoor playground - what with the slip-n-slide in the trash. Honestly, I thought long and hard about the indoor playground idea, but that costs $50 for 90 minutes of air conditioned fun, and with juice boxes at $4 a pop there’s no way I can say yes! Except the sound of them whining at me and fighting each other makes me think taking out a second mortgage to pay for some chilly recycled air may be worth it after all!

So here I am, Summer, standing at the sink, trying to get myself motivated to tackle these breakfast dishes before the lunchtime rush, where every one of my miniature people calls for me like a short-order cook. What’s a mom to do, Summer, answer me that!


summertimeblues graphic


Just this morning I got a text from a mom-friend of mine who typed out her own summertime lament!

“It’s only July and I'm already twitchy. The boys got up this morning and emptied our entire cupboard of craft supplies onto the living room floor! Content, they colored there for approximately three and a half minutes, before leaving the wreckage behind with the promise they’d “be right back.” Of course they took their creativity out onto the apartment balcony to play with chalk. Needless to say, they covered the entire patio surface with one solid piece of chalk art, then traipsed chalk foot prints all the way to the bathroom, where they swam in the tub to wash it off - because some of them looked like Braveheart with chalk on their faces! Then when I thought I could escape to my own bathroom for a moment, I tripped over the art supplies they’d left on the floor and banged my knee something awful. I went for a bag of frozen peas to help with the swelling, when I heard them yelling over an itty-bitty lego.... one tiny 4x4 Lego! I'm one eye twitch away from the crazy house people.”

You hear that, Summer? Mamas get twitchy eyes and twitchy trigger fingers too! In the heat of the moment, in the heat of the day, moms tend to explode at their kids. Complaints about boredom, incessant cries for more screentime, and their dissatisfied eye rolls cause us to react in anger rather than respond - and the guilt we feel as we lecture our way home from the beach is what we hate most of all!

We don’t mean to be mean, if you know what I mean… we’re just hot and bothered.

We started the summer with a heartfelt Halleluiah, one short month ago, and we love these little people something fierce… but we’re out of ideas, out of money, and out of patience.


One Hot Mess


Are you struggling to keep cool and keep calm this summer? Join me for a SUMMERTIME TRIGGERS parenting series! Over the course of the next week I'll post three Summertimes Triggers and what we can do to keep our cool when the temperatures rise... when our temperatures rise!

I'll share my biggest summertime triggers - the things they do that make me explode like a midsummer bottle rocket! Take the challenge - and take your summer back! Sign up here to get each new article delivered directly to your email inbox.


[Tweet "Summertime Boredom, Screen-time Battles, and a new way to view all the other Summertime Triggers!"]


“Sometimes I wonder what I’m-a-gonna-do… cause there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.”


1454673261503Triggers are the things our kids do that cause us to react in anger rather than respond Gently. Instead of focusing on getting our kids' behavior under control, our focus must first be on controlling our own behavior. Just because our kids behave wrong, we must keep on doing right! Order your copy of Triggers: Exchanging Parents' Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses today.