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...
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.)
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.