Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Teens and needs

My oldest is thirteen. Yesterday I had my trusty babysitter come over and watch the littles for a few hours while I got my hair cut, (she got her eyebrows waxed) went school supply shopping, and went to the grocery store. Being that she is 7 years older than her next sibling, these kind of days do not happen very frequently. I have three preschoolers, and life is busy. But I try to make time for her. I think it's important.

There is a tendency for parents, I think, as children get older, to quit serving them. I have fallen into that trap many times, and this should not be. Of course, they are older, and have more responsibilities, but that doesn't mean they don't have needs.

As Tonia says in her post "Emerging thoughts on Adolescents" :

We need to find ways to serve them. It's strangely popular in Christian circles to punish kids for every disobedience, but that is not how our heavenly Father treats us. When we were rebellious, flagrant sinners, He came and washed our feet and then paid for our sins. Nothing diffuses anger like unconditional love. We can serve our children as Christ serves us.

*Do their chores for them now and then, make them brownies, put away the shoes they left in the middle of the floor. And do it quietly. We don't need to spoil things by looking for their appreciation and thanks.

Am I anticipating her needs? Am I looking at her as if she has needs? She might like her bed made up by me, she might like if I do something for her that she normally does. How can I bless her? There is that tendency to think that if you give, give, give, then "they" will expect more. But bathed in prayer, and with a servant's heart, I think the perspective changes. It's all for the Lord, anyway.

If you are a mother of teens, how do you serve your child? With a sense of duty, or a heart of love? What practical ideas can you offer? How do you find that balance of serving and making sure they are responsible. I'd love to hear.


Katherine@Raising Five said...

Oh, I am in there with you on this one. Making time for them - not just telling them what to do all the time - is my number one challenge, especially with a large family.

With regard to serving and them coming to expect it, I think we need to set aside the expectation that they will "get it" while they are at home. That may or may not be the case. I didn't appreciate all my mother did (sadly) until I was a mother myself. Now I realize her heart of love - selflessly giving herself to a selfish teen, just as Christ Himself would have done.

Love to you!

Jana said...

This is an excellent point, and I think it really applies to every age - even infants. We so easily get consumed with the "basic needs" of feeding, bathing, etc. our children, that we forget about the emotional needs, or even CREATIVE needs. I love taking my 5-year-old out for coffee. She is the child I have the hardest time relating to, and also the most challenging to "train", yet our coffee times are always meaningful and pleasant. It makes a WORLD of difference.

Mary Brooke said...

Andrea, really wonderful post. I've enjoyed reading this as well as Katherine's post about anticipating needs.
Mary Brooke

Anonymous said...

I love this post. It really makes one think about how while our older kids are becoming their own person and in a way pushing us farther away, at the same time how much they still need us in so many ways. From time to time I will go to my 12 year old son and 10 year old daughter and just hug and hold them for a time. With two little ones under 4 years old sometimes little things like that aren't done enough cause so much of our nurturing goes to the little ones. But yes, even the big ones need it and they also love it when we do something for them that is usually a chore that they do.
It's been a while since I've visited your blog Andrea and I must say that I really like the new look.
Take care,

Jess said...

What an excellent point! We don't get "punished" for every wrong, do we? It's hard because so many people SCREAM consistency, consistency, consistency- and while that's important, GRACE is important too.

Like you said, the special time spent together "just because", or the ice cream cone that's undeserved. What an encouraging, thought-provoking post! Thanks, Andrea!


Jill said...

I found you through Katherine's site. I am so glad I did. I love finding a new blogger that spurs me on to be something more. I look forwrd to coming back and reading again.

Anonymous said...

Your older children never get tired of the unexpected hug or kiss or praise. I do it and you'all still appreciate it.

The older child needs the same attention the others do, but in a different way. Just keep the communication line open.

Love you,

Beverly said...

Very good post! I don't have older kids yet, but I do remember how loved I felt as even a young adult when my mom did something special for me. She was also always willing to talk with me into the wee hours of the morning if I needed it!

Ginnie said...

Excellent post! I enjoy reading your blog. It spurs me on each time I read it.

You are right, we need to serve our children. What a wonderful way for them to learn to serve others and it doesn't have to be the big things. Simple things such as putting away their laundry, ironing their school clothes, offering to take their school books to the car as your leaving for school, or as someone else mentioned making their bed. Also making a point to ask about each of their days and spending time with them alone to pray about struggles and praising God for answered prayer.

heather said...

What a great post-it is something that has been on my mind lately, but your words brought it all together. My 12 year old daughter and I had a rare afternoon out (we too have three younger ones, besides my 12 year old)this week and it was so good. She is starting to get so moody and it is challenging and inconvenient, but she needs love now as much as ever. Just because she does not need me to dress her, feed her...does not mean that her needs are not just as valid and real!

Ann V.@HolyExperience said...

Tonia, Katherine, you... I am sitting here, learning, praying, thankful.

Father, make my mothering like Yours. You anticipated all my needs, from the foundation of the Earth. And planted a Cross in the middle of history and the middle of my mess. You met me where I was at. Yes, make me a Mother like You.

In Jesus name....

Grafted Branch @ Restoring the Years said...

So true! In these older and more capable years, there is a temptation to rely on them for more and more service. But we must keep the giving sweet. I love to find an opportunity to make my oldest's bed--especially true because she usually beats me to it (and her sisters' on "new linens" day).

A generous servant's heart should be modeled. And the attitude that is reaped from that is beautiful!