Three Things That Are Working In Parenting Your Teen That Have Nothing To Do With Your Child
I know it’s a New Year and I should probably be talking about all things resolutions, goals and creating your best life. And sometimes I do. But today deserves to be set apart from the regular dialogue that typically happens in the first week of every year. Today is my daughter’s sixteenth birthday. In the United States, the 16th birthday is a mark that a girl has come of age. She is not a legal adult yet, but 16 is when many girls learn to drive, can get jobs and assume other adult responsibilities. For many people, the 16th birthday is a celebration of womanhood and marks the end of a girl's childhood. In other words, it’s kind of a big deal. And it was definitely a big deal in our home.
For a few months prior to her birthday, my girl began talking about what she wanted to do for her sweet 16. We trolled Pinterest and brainstormed ideas. She was unclear on exactly what she wanted but definite with expectation. She isn’t the kid who asks for much so it made me pause as to the deeper reason why this was so important to her. I did some digging on Google, where all accurate information comes from, and I learned about the value connected to her party and perhaps why this was so important.
“The highlight of every girl's sweet 16th birthday is the party. Often, a girl has been planning her 16th birthday for years and has a very specific idea about what she wants and who she wants to invite. There are many theories about how the sweet 16 birthday originated…No matter where the party began, it is agreed that it originated as an important mark of adulthood and maturity.”
This little fun fact got me thinking about way more than the color palette of her party and reminded me a whole lot about the importance of my stage of parenting and how incredible my responsibility is to steward this season well.
I don’t know what God is asking you to do in your health (though we can talk more about that, ALWAYS). I don’t know what next step you need to take in your career or ministry adventure (although I’d love to hear more over at my sisterhood). I do know that, if you are a mom, your greatest impact is in your home. Maybe this is the year we live with great intention and steward the gift of children, creating our best life inside our four walls. I don’t have all the answers or the perfect picture of what that might look like for you and your children, but I want to share three things that are working for us as I parent a sixteen year old budding adult.
1. I lecture less and listen more:
Deliberately deciding to listen, to stay focused on what my teen is saying without interjecting my own ideas and solutions, has been powerful. Asking questions instead of giving answers has actually enabled a safer space for her to share. Regardless if I think the situation makes sense or is rational is actually irrelevant. Trying to see the world from where she sits, validating how it impacts her and listening to what she might think is a good idea or a way to move through it has sometimes been hard. Controlling my impulse to speak and exercising discernment in how to respond has been worth it.
2. I say I’m sorry (a lot.):
It’s been fascinating to watch the sixteen year old in me rise up on occasion when dealing with my teens. Sometimes I see my kids lack of reasoning or emotional tendencies as personal. It’s not. I’ve come to understand that I can expect it from time to time as they are developing. Also, remembering I am fully grown and my outbursts still occur on occasion without reason. And so I have surrendered my need to always be right, take a deep breath and apologize. My offense may not always be severe, but modeling humility and saying sorry creates an environment of repentance and forgiveness that we all could use a little more of.
3. I’m often uncomfortable:
My teen doesn’t make me uncomfortable. Not feeling in full control always does. We have incredible influence over our teenagers. But influence is a privilege, not an entitlement. According to Philippians 3:21 only God has “power that enables everything under his control.” I choose to submit to the authority of Christ to bring all things, including my parenting in process. I have decided to join Him in the work He is doing in my daughter. Surrender brings discomfort. Often. It goes against the grain of my will. But yielding the power I never really had over my teen’s life is the only way to gain the influence I desperately desire and we both need.
For a deeper dive on the mind of your teen, I encourage picking up the book,"Your Teenager Is Not Crazy."
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