We hit a landmark moment in our household next week. Well, you can sort of say it is a landmark.
Next Tuesday we will be the official parents of a teenager.
Frightening, I know.
You can pray for us right now because I can say that when it comes to parenting a teen, I am completely out of my realm. Give me a baby, a toddler, or a preschooler and I would like to think that I know what I’m doing by now. Heck, give me an elementary aged child and I feel like I’ve hit my groove.
But give me a teenager to parent? And parent successfully? Lord help us.
I had a wake-up call one day a couple months ago when we sat down at the dinner table to pray. Normally we all hold hands, but my oldest usually doesn’t sit next to me. For some reason this particular day he did. The hand that reached out and grabbed mine did not belong to a little boy anymore. It most definitely belonged to a young man and I was shocked at how much that hand that I could once enclose in mine had grown.
Fast forward to a couple weeks later and my son was walking around the yard. I happened to catch a quick glimpse of him out the window as he passed by and for a second I thought his dad had gotten home from work early. I couldn’t help but be downright startled again at how much he had grown over the last 13 years.
Yes, that tiny baby that entered the world fighting six weeks too early quickly grew into a fussy little toddler.
While praising God for the gift of his life, we prayed for things like healthy growth and extra doses of patience on our part.
In a flash this little guy became a preschooler, a big brother to 4 additional siblings, then my first to go to kindergarten.
The miniature hand that I once cradled in mine I now held to walk to the bus every day. We now prayed for spiritual growth and things like safety while at school.
Soon enough he was joined by one sibling after another at that bus stop and was excelling in school. At the same time our Daniel, aptly named after the Old Testament Daniel, became quite a little missionary and made no bones about what he believed and Who he believed in.
That same little hand had grown and now held things like chapter books, pocket knives, and army men.
Fast forward to now. My boy is now a man-child and I no longer have to look down to talk to him. He’s had a full year at middle school and absolutely loves it. The little boy voice that I was so familiar with now creaks and cracks with the changes of adolescence. He rarely ever holds my hand, but I do get some great bear hugs (when his peers aren’t looking, of course) on occasion.
I don’t know much about raising teens, but I do know how to unconditionally love my child.
For all the areas I’m sure I will absolutely flounder on, there’s other things that I plan on (hopefully) doing okay at:
*Pray, pray, pray. Any child of any age needs covered in prayer and so do their parents! As my boy gets more independent and will be more and more exposed to the world at large, I just have to entrust him to God. I will never forget what another Mom said to me years ago when becoming anxious at the thought of her baby driving a car one day: “As much as we love our kids, we have to remember that God loves them even more.”
*Being available. Yes, I know there will be days that he doesn’t feel like talking much or wants to pull away from us. However, I think it is still important that they know you are THERE for them. At Daniel’s middle school orientation the principal said something that resonated with me. It was something like, “at this age you may think you are no longer needed, but this is the age when they need you more than ever.”
*Being firm. “Mom can be tough but she’s not mean.” This is an actual quote from my husband, talking to our kids just recently about us and discipline. There are SO many permissive parents out there, it makes me want to shake them!! Yes, I love my kids and want them to be “in this world but not of this world.” However, just because “everyone’s” parents let them do _____________ or have a ________________ doesn’t mean I will allow you to do it or have one! We haven’t had to encounter this much yet with our own kids, but I’m sure the day will come. Thankfully we have some like-minded parents in our community so we can hopefully back each other up.
*Not doing it alone. Thank the Good Lord we don’t have to do this parenting thing alone. I have a loving husband who is an amazing Dad. As our boys get older, he invests lots of time into taking them to do guy things and teach them some manly stuff that I would just make a mess of. We also have awesome parents who love to spend quality time with each of their grandchildren and reinforce what we believe. In addition, we have a solid church family, good teachers, and others who have invested in our kids’ lives. For that we are very blessed and grateful.
So, basically this may be a giant learning curve, but we have a firm foundation on which to rest in.
Please pray for us as we enter this all-new stage of parenting……and if you have any words of wisdom, please let me know!