I am officially a teenager mom. Not a mom who is a teenager, but a mom to a teenager!
Well I was offically one of those back in August. I must say that it took me by surprise. I really thought that life would go along like it always had. What I failed to learn from mommy college 101 was that as soon as they turn 13; the teenager switch is turned on.
I didn’t realize that overnight, being with friends would be more important than family.
A phone would be an extension of their arm.
Their appearance would be more important than life itself.
…and they have the ability to argue on any subject.
(please don’t take this the wrong way, I think he is the most adorable, lovable teenager out there. I just wasn’t ready for what 13 year olds had to offer)
I wish I would have been more prepared.
I am learning along the way. By the time I make it to Tessa; I will rock this teenager thing.
In an attempt to draw closer to my teenager, I have been looking for ideas and methods that will help me draw closer to all the kids.
Over the last few months, I have come up with 6 ways that have proven to work pretty well in our home.
I thought you might enjoy hearing what I have come up with.
6 ways to draw closer to your children.
1. Pray for them.
Jonathan and I pray for each of our children specifically each and every day. We talk to God about them by name, and I always ask for guidance. I am surprised by how many times an idea to draw near to them pops into my head after I pray for them. Remember that these kids were his first. They are just on loan to us, and he knows them better than we do. He wants to help us raise them.
2. Make time for a daily devotional with your kids.
Each morning, before the kids leave for school we have a daily devotional.
Now, instead of praying for the kids, I am making time to pray with them.
We take about 15 minutes to go over some scriptures, pray, and even sing a gospel song. We pick a song that they are learning at church. This gives them an opportunity to know it even better. I used to lay out the devotionals myself. Then I found this book, and it has changed everything for me. It is all laid out for you. Each week has a specific topic. For example, this week we talked about integrity. Then everyday of the week has a scripture to read that discusses the topic. Included is a quote, questions to ask, and a talk given by a leader from the church I belong to; to read and discuss. Yes, this book is designed for Mormon families. Do I think that you could use it if you are not a Mormon? Yes, I do. Included in it are scriptures from the bible each week, which any family could share. Plus, the questions and talks included are valuable for any family working on character building.
I love that my family is learning topics each week that build character, and we are using scripture to back it up. After we sing, read from our devotional book, then we pray together. It is a great way to start the day. It makes me feel better to know I am sending my kids off into the world with a prayer. We take turns saying the prayer. My favorite part is listening to my kids pray. This draws me closer to them.
Jex doesn’t get to participate in our devotional every morning because he leaves for school so early. We decided when he went off to middle school that we would have him come into our room before he leaves, and we would pray together. It is so nice to share a prayer with Jex each morning. Once again, I love listening to him pray.
3. Send your kids a daily text, or leave them a note every now and again.
This one mostly pertains to Jex, my adorable teenager. This has probably been the most effective thing I have done to get closer to him. When he couldn’t be a part of our devotional anymore I was really sad. So, when we decided to get him a phone; I decided to use it to my advantage. Every morning, right after the devotional that I have with the kids; I send the devotional to Jex via text. I take a picture of the scripture and topic we discussed that day out of the book. Then I share a little thought about it. I always end the text with some form of recognition or praise for him. Sometimes, our kids just need to hear that we love them. I don’t want to preach to my kids, but I do want them to know that I have a testimony, and that I love them no matter what.
I am also working hard to leave hand written notes laying around. Just the other day, I noticed that Jex had worked hard before school to make sure that his room was cleaned. I left him a note on his bed thanking him for that. I made sure he knew that I noticed and that I appreciated it. That day when he came home from school, he came over to me and said, “thanks for the note, you’re the best mom ever.”
I don’t think this approach works only for teenagers. I think that all my kids have benefited from little notes of kindness.
Each one of our kids have an old phone or device of mine or Jonathan’s. They have figured out that they can text us while they are at home using our wifi. It has been so fun to text love notes back and forth with Isaac.
Stella also sends me kind thoughts, and then I can share kind thoughts back. I think sometimes it is easier for them to open up a little this way.
No! I don’t allow our only form of affection to be thru mobile devices, but it has been one way that has worked. These kids seem to be reached well through technology. Let’s use that to our advantage.
4. Let them do something that you might otherwise have said No to. It will surprise them.
For Jex, this has been saying Yes to him hanging out with friends late at night. This is a change for me. I am used to having my kids home in bed, but he is growing up. With that growing up, I have to say Yes to more. I have also been saying yes more when he wants to have friends tag along with us. When I say yes, he knows that I trust him and that I understand him. I understand what it is like to be 13. I understand how friends used to be everything to me too.
It’s important to be discernable. We can’t say yes to everything. We shouldn’t say yes to everything, but we should say yes to somethings.
For the younger kids, it is as easy as saying yes to something that you might otherwise say no to just because it isn’t convient, or it might make a mess. One of my kids favorite things for me to say yes to; is allowing them to put makeup on me. The first time I said yes, it surprised them. They said, “Really?” But, Really? what is it going to hurt? Even Isaac thinks this is hilarious. I let them get in my makeup and get creative on my face. You know what, it all washes off. We share a lot of laughs together, it’s quality time, and we build a trust relationship. I am trusting them with my makeup and my face.
5. Teach them something.
I think it is so important that our kids learn from us. God gave them to us so we could instruct them. It’s important that they can come to us when they have important questions. I think it’s important to instruct them in the small things too.
Jonathan teaches our boys how to play ball and golf.
(Jex 18 mo. old golfing with his dad)
He takes all the kids skiing and instructs them.
I have been working with Tess on her reading. I have even been teaching Isaac how to braid. It really can be the littlest things.
I recently spent the morning teaching Tess the basics of baking.
Watching my kids learn something has been some of my proudest moments as a mom.
6. Make time to listen.
Sometimes listening isn’t convienent. We all know the mom trick of, “uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, I see”, all the while finishing whatever it is that is important to us at the moment.
It is so important that we take the time to really listen at times. I’m not talking about the times that they are telling us the 43 steps that it takes to build an airplane out of legos. I am saying that there are times that we need to really listen when they are trying to tell us something.
This past Halloween, I was up until 2am just listening to my sweet Stella tell my everything and anything that was in her heart.
Stella doesn’t always open up, so when she does start talking it is important to recognize that I really need to listen. We had a great conversation, and we became just that much closer.
Yes! I think that listening about 43 steps of lego building can draw me closer to my son too. It’s important to him, but what I am talking about are those moments when they share what’s inside their heads and hearts.
I know that when I am working through something in my own head that I love to have someone to bounce those thoughts off of. I think it’s important that we are the person they want to bounce the ideas off.
I’m not at all a perfect parent. In fact, I have so much to work on. I am also not an expert in the dos and don’ts of raising kids, but I am in the trenches of it. I do know that I will do anything and everything I can to find ways to stay close to these kids. I want my kids to feel loved and valued for the rest of their lives.
That means there will be adapting, changing, and adding to the list for the rest of their lives.
We can’t stop trying to draw close to our kids, even when they have kids of their own.
The list will be different then. Right now, I’m just going to focus on getting through these teenage years.