It’s hitting me lately in waves.
Maybe it’s the fact that I can’t keep ANY snacks in the house for longer than 24 hours. Or it could be that it’s after 8am and my kids are still out cold.
It could be that morning showers have become mandatory, rather than optional. Or maybe it’s the fact that I am patted on top of my head at least once a day and my 11 year old calls me the “little Mommy”.
I am the mother of two teens.
Now technically, one is only 11, but the kid is 5’8”, sounds like a man, and looks 15. I think he still qualifies.
How does this happen? Or when?!
It just does. I mean did.
With our Round 1 kids, I was so scared to teach junior high and high school subjects. I caved in when then hormone waves began to roll and I sent the girls to school. I won’t go into that whole situation but suffice it to say that it wasn’t our best decision ever. And I just realized I’m here again, but it’s not the same this time.
Yes there are hormones rolling—but they’re not GIRL hormones—which are vastly different, as any mother of both teen girls and boys will tell you. And I’m not afraid of teaching those subjects any more. Well, not very. I am ready to take them on, and much more. We learned so MUCH parenting the first four teens. These boys don’t stand a chance! We’re prepared. We know their tricks. We are battle-scarred parents who know better now. 😉
I think it all hit me the other night, as I was up very late working on a friend’s website (you have to go check it out) and D1 was sitting on the couch next to me, watching me create 120 hyperlinks. (Yes I really did that.) We were talking and he was asking me about Autism, since he recently learned he has “a mild case, just mild” of it himself.
His thoughts were so… grown up. His questions were so mature. I could tell he was really thinking about it. He asked me “What grade am I really in? 8th?” I had to say yes, 8th grade is technically what he’s in. But he’s still operating about a year behind, which is why I decided to call him a 7th grader this year. That’s not going over so well any more, since he started thinking about things.
So I told him “Yes, you’re an 8th grader. You just struggle a little bit in math so we’re working on that. It doesn’t matter what grade you’re in because math just progresses on and on.” He was okay with that. And I am the mother of a soon to be 9th grader. Lord help me.
1. Realistic Expectations
Don’t overwhelm them with a long list of expectations, even if you do want them to hit them all. You’ve still got a few years left. Pace yourself. You may want her to take PSAT study courses (and then take and pass the PSAT, and go to college). You may want him to go into his Dad’s trade. You may want a whole lot of things for your kids but keep in mind their hopes and dreams too, and don’t keep the list so long and detailed that there’s no room for natural growth.
Yes, really. Don’t buy the homeschool “expert” advice that the only people your teens need in their lives are you and your spouse and their siblings. That’s a line of BS. Sorry, just calling it like it is. They really do need friends. Just like all of us, they need peers they can hang out and be themselves with, to explore the way the world works, keep each other’s secrets, and build each other up in their faith. Yes, teenagers can really do all of these things together.
It’s what all teenagers look for and as a result, some make some really crazy (or downright stupid and dangerous) choices. Help your teens find purpose and you’ve got half the battle won right there. A teen who feels a purpose in life will also begin to create goals and put things in place to attain them. Give them something to believe in that they can act on.
As an aside, having a teen who believes in God and is seeking Him is wonderful, but if that’s all you get you still may end up very disappointed. Teach him how to be the hands of Christ extended, and to DO something with his faith. This gives him purpose. Playing the church game is too easy for most teens. They’d never admit it to you, but we have learned the hard way.
4. Responsibility and Accountability
I put these together because they really do go hand in hand. Give your teens responsibility with realistic expectations, and then hold them accountable. Set guidelines, goals, and a measurable way to see that they meet them. Let them know where the lines are and don’t be surprised if they go all the way up to them. That’s okay. It’s part of learning how the world works. Hold them accountable for their choices.
5. To Accept Natural Consequences
We live in a society that wants instant gratification. We turn on the computer and don’t wait for the dial up internet to connect. Our kids have meals on demand, tv on demand (Netflix anyone?), games on demand, rides on demand, activities on demand… And much of the demand falls squarely on top of Mom and Dad’s shoulders.
Help your teens to see that things don’t always need to happen “NOW” and that their own lack of planning does not constitute an emergency for you. A kid who misses the bus for school or an activity is capable of finding another way to get there. It may mean she has to take a bus 20 minutes later, or that she calls a friend for a ride. Contrary to popular belief, there are not kidnappers on every corner, and walking a mile or two does not put them at risk for anything more than a little bit of good exercise. If he forgets his homework (for school, co-op, or whatever) then he forgets his homework. Expecting Mom to bring it is more than a little bit unrealistic, considering it wasn’t her homework and therefore isn’t her responsibility. Life lessons are sometimes hard and often make us uncomfortable.
Being a parent can be tough, and raising teens can be a challenge, but if you prepare yourself you’ll be up for the challenge and you’ll have some great memories with them too!