Sunday, September 26, 2010

How to love your teenager

First off, I am no expert at this. I am muddling through the teenage years, always questioning myself and never knowing the "right" way to do things. But I do know how to love my teen. That is what this is about.

1. Give them lots of space. To think, to fail, to dream, to figure out things on their own. Soon my teen will not be living with me full time. I want to be there when she fails, when she dreams, when she needs help. I want to help guide her through life while she still lives with me.

2. Laugh. A lot. My teen can be very moody. It might be partly heightened because of hormones, but she has also been like that her whole life. =) I try to not let her moods get to me. I laugh. I poke her. I sing funny songs to her. I make jokes to her. I try to make her laugh. The world is mean. I want to teach her to lighten up and let go. That it is not all serious stuff. That there is lots of grace. Laughing helps a lot of things.

3. Remember? The world is mean. I want her to want to be home. I hug her, I give her physical affection. Often we forget our older ones need that. It takes focused attention for me to do that. I want her to know I'm excited to see her. That I want her home. That home is a place for rest and rejuvenation

4. I close my mouth. I try hard to just listen. I make gentle suggestions to her. I don't tell her what she "should" do. If I preach to her, it will just shut her up. I look for ways to creatively get across my opinion to her. It works sometimes. =)

5. We "greenhouse parent" her. We let her out of the "greenhouse" as she is nearing maturity. The final goal is to have a mature plant that will thrive outside the greenhouse. Letting go is not easy, but needed.

6. I pray. Oh, lordy, I pray. =) It really is the best thing we can do for her. God only knows those deep deep parts that I could never reach.

Like I said, I'm muddling through. I'm praying. And all my efforts won't produce a "perfect" child. In fact, I am not looking to do that. I want a child who learns to lean on the Lord when she is hurt, confused, disappointed, makes mistakes...for anything. I want a child who loves Him. Simple as that. So I do what I think He has called me to do and then I just let go and trust Him.


Stacy said...

These sound like such wise ideas, Andrea. (Not that I'll be parenting any teens soon, but...)

I've heard that a lot about affection: how it's still so important but harder to remember to do.

Good job, Andrea!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. I remember a while ago you mentioned treating her to Starbucks after school; that $3 is really a cheap price for good conversation...that really hit home as my teenage boys ALWAYS talk more if they have food in front of them. I started running thru whatever drive thru is open after I pick them up from sports, or other functions...I so much appreciate your wisdom on this and it has made a great difference!


children of eve said...

Very wise words, Andrea. I should print this, put it in an envelope to read again in a couple of years.

Alejandra said...

I definitely agree with your first point. Leaving room for self growth is important during the teen years. I was actually just listening to a similar note in a broadcast from Mark Gregston, "Getting Out of the Way" about it. He makes the same point about not holding such a tight grip in their lives.

~nanashouse~ said...

We are on our last teen; the other four are now older and on their own. I can't agree more with your advice. It is right on, especially the greenhouse parenting. Thank you for your tender heart.

Andrea said...

Alejandra--that broadcast looks great! I will check it out.
Nanashouse- wow, thanks for your encouragement. It's nice to know I am headed in the right direction and my intentions are right! thanks.