8 Things Our Teenagers Want Us to Know About Them

For me, it seems, this responsibility we’ve been given as parents only proves to become harder and harder as our children get older. To be quite honest, there are some times when I wish I could trade some of these tough moments with my teenagers for the hours I spent trying to get them to eat their vegetables as toddlers, or the long afternoons of potty training, or even the sleepless nights with them as newborns. With teenagers come a greater need for wisdom and understanding, grace to navigate the deep conversations and topics with them, and a willingness to truly listen to them.

I say all this in the wake of some pretty big conversations we have had with our teenagers. As they get older, we are no longer able to dictate what they do every waking moment, how they are to express their feelings, what to think, or with whom they interact. They have thoughts and opinions of their own, and I know that mine are not afraid to discuss them with us. Recognizing that our teenagers’ thoughts and opinions will sometimes differ from our own is part of the battle I face as their mother.

There have been many things I have learned from my children these past 15 years, but none seem as important as what I have learned about my older children this past week. I’m sure if you were to ask your teenagers, they may say the same. I can be certain, as my younger children grow, they will want for me to understand these things about them, as well.

8 Things Our Teenagers Want Us to Know About Them

1. They want to talk about the major stuff
Sex, drugs, religion, politics – these are the topics they want to discuss. They are curious about sex and drugs, They are eager to formulate their own thoughts about religion and politics. They are researching on their own, talking about these topics with friends and peers, and developing opinions based on their findings. They want to have conversations with us, too. As parents, we can only hope and pray that they will be just as receptive to our influence. After all, they truly want to know what we think, how we feel, and why we believe what we believe.

2. They want to be heard
Just as they desire to know our thoughts, opinions, and feelings, they want us to hear theirs. They want us to really listen to them. Close the laptop, put down the phone, turn off the radio, and really and truly listen. Don’t argue with them or belittle them; no insinuating that their opinions don’t matter; but hear them out.

3. They want us to be honest with them
My kids have always asked lots of questions, but as they get older the answers to their questions become less black and white. They don’t want cookie cutter answers, or answers that may make the conversation more comfortable for you; they want real and honest answers. And, boy, is that hard!

4. They want us to set boundaries and give consequences
Kids thrive best in environments that limit their freedom. They don’t want to have to keep themselves in check and create boundaries for themselves yet, no matter what they say. If all teenagers were honest with themselves (as mine were with me), they would recognize that rules are good for them. Among others, they need to know when and how it is appropriate to make plans, when they are to be home or check in, how they are to talk to us, and how they are to treat their siblings. They also need to be given proper consequences when they get out of line.

5. They want independence and freedom
On the flip side, and in appropriate circumstances, they do desire freedom. Freedom to make their own choices. Freedom to express themselves. Freedom to grow and mature. Independence should be allowed gradually and appropriately. This is certainly not easy, but if teens are treated like children as they grow and mature, they will act like children. Begin treating them like little adults, slowly and gradually, with appropriate responsibilities, and they will begin acting like adults.

6. They want our approval and praise
It is so easy to badger and nag our teens. Harping on them when they don’t do or act as expected can only alienate them. Alternately, if we praise them when they have exceeded our expectations – or even just done what was expected – will drive them to do more. They desire to be appreciated just as we do. Our approval and praise will go a long way to motivate excellence.

7. They want us to respect their privacy
As their bodies and minds grow and mature, so does their desire for privacy, both physically and emotionally.  Sometimes they just want to retreat and spend some time alone and they desire for us to understand that it is not personal. They also want to be able to have private conversations with each other and their friends. There are some things we are better off not knowing anyway!

8. They want us to be careful not to jump to conclusions and assume the worst
It is so easy to jump to the worst possible conclusion when you come across information, informed or discovered, that you were not expected to come across. My teens have always been very honest when approached with questionable information. They are more than willing to explain, discuss, or defend their actions, knowing there may be consequences. All they ask is that we keep a cool head and not assume the worst, but always ask before jumping to conclusions.

In short, our teenagers are growing up and deserve to be treated like the little adults they are becoming. Of course, they are still developing and growing, so they need us to continue guiding them, with a loving hand and a strong grip, ever so slowly releasing them so they may begin navigate this great big world on their own.

“Being a good wife will make me a bad mom.” {7 Lies Moms Believe}

As moms, we tend to hold ourselves to a pretty high standard. If we are completely honest, we expect too much of ourselves as we constantly believe the lies that we are told about having to be perfect, make our kids our whole world, and forsake all other parts of life because you became a mom.

With seven kiddos under my wings, and 14 years under my belt, I can assure you that there are some lies we believe that prevent us from being the best mom we can be. I’d like to try to help you realize that these lies only hold us back; they prevent us from being all that we need to be to raise well-rounded and happy children, without driving ourself insane.

Don’t listen to these lies. Instead, embrace the truth.

7 Lies We Believe As Moms  From Dates to Diapers

Lie – My world has to revolve around my kids.

Truth It doesn’t have to. It really is okay to let your little one skip a nap, so you can meet your sister and nephews at the park. It’s okay to have a few friends over after your babies are in bed, even if y’all aren’t quiet. (Yes, it really IS okay if you aren’t tiptoeing around when he’s sleeping.) Junior will get used to the noise or minor disruption in his schedule. I promise. You, sweet mama, can still have a life. A life that is only more full with your children in it.

Lie – There is never any time for me.

TruthYou must MAKE time for you. Even when your babies are teeny. I know, new moms, you don’t believe me, but Junior really will be okay if you swaddle him and place him in the bassinet just outside of your bathroom door. Take that long, hot shower and shave your legs. Or, pour yourself a cup of coffee and spend some alone time with the Lord. Junior can’t go anywhere and it really is okay if he whimpers for a few minutes before you tend to him. You MUST take time for yourself each day, at the beginning, without guilt.

As baby gets older, have a trusted friend or family member tend to Junior for a few hours each week. Meet a friend for coffee, have a dinner date with your husband, get your nails done, read your Bible at a local coffee shop. And remember  – no guilt. You MUST take care of you.

Lie – I can’t have real friends.

TruthFriendships seem to change as you start a family, but just because you have babies doesn’t mean you need to give up on friendships. When I was pregnant with Ben, I felt isolated. After all, I had four kiddos, 4 years old and under, and I rarely left the house. I turned to the internet and saw an incredible opportunity to connect with the online mom community. My online friends became my “real” friends and are still some of my best friends to this day. Being a mom doesn’t mean you can’t have friends; it just means your friendships change.

Lie – Imperfection is not an option.

TruthNo one is expected to be perfect, so stop expecting yourself to be. Moms get frustrated and yell. We forget to pick up our kids on time from soccer practice. We let crumbs stay on the floor and clean laundry in the washer for hours, sometimes days. We all have shortcomings and disappoint. What’s most important is how you deal with those shortcomings. Apologize, make plans to be better, move on, and try. Do your best, but don’t beat yourself up.

Lie – Happiness is being a mom.

TruthBeing a mom is hard, y’all. You will have challenging days. You will have bad days. In fact, some days you may even wish that you didn’t have the responsibility that children bring. That certainly doesn’t make you a bad mom and it’s completely normal. If these “bad” days are more often than not, however, please talk to a friend or even your doctor. You may have symptoms of depression that need to be addressed.

Lie – I must make every day fun for my kids.

Truth – Life is meant to be lived. Life is not always fun. It is not our job, as parents, to make life fun or to entertain our children 24/7. It is our job to teach and train them to be responsible, respectful, and God-honoring individuals. The best way we teach is by example.

And, last but not least, my favorite lie to bring to truth… 

Lie – Being a good wife will make me a bad mom.

Truth – You can make your husband a priority without compromising your ability to be a good mom. In fact, making time for your spouse will, in fact, make you an even better mom. Trust me. You and your spouse will have a deeper connection and will be better able to parent. It’s only when the two of you are connected – emotionally, physically and spiritually – that you will have the energy and emotional capacity to be the best mom you can be.

What’s more, your husband will thank you for making him a priority. And, when all of your kiddos fly away, you will not have to get to know the one you devoted to love and cherish all over again. So, make plans to go out on a date once a month. If it truly is impossible to have a trusted friend or family member watch the kiddos, put them to bed early one night and have a candlelit dinner. Talk about life, without bringing up the kids. Or just enjoy each other’s company.

The simple act of making your husband number one in your life will make you a better mom. Trust me.

What would you add to the list of lies we believe?

Discussing Bullying With Our Kids

As National Bullying Prevention Month comes to an end, discussion and awareness never should. Bullying has become more than pushing and shoving on the playground, and we can teach our kids to make a difference. Showing our kids, by example, how to treat others with kindness and respect, and to stand up for themselves and others is a daily occurance. Most times it is even happening without much thought or intention on our parts.

As parents, we must take a long hard look at what we are modeling to our children. We can only expect them to behave as we behave. We are their first teachers and the people they trust the most to steer them in the right direction.

Often I have to stop and ask myself the following questions —

  • How am I talking to others?
  • How am I talking about others?
  • Am I using innapropriate language or calling others names?
  • Am I “bullying” people in to doing things my way?
  • Do I intentionally intimidate those who are weaker, either with my words or my actions?
  • Am I allowing others to intimidate me or destroy my confidence?
  • How am I building my own confidence and the confidence of my children?

Having an open line of communication with our kiddos is also key to preventing bullying. Talk to your kiddos about what is going on at the park, at school, at church, and on social media. Discussing with them the differences between real bullying and typical immature behavior is also important. Too many times, these days, are normal kids being labeled as bullies. Of course, with kiddos of varying ages, it’s important to have age appropriate conversations. 

We can also use movies and television shows to help illustarte the importance of leadership, kindness, being a hero, and fighting back. Netflix has put together a list of age-appriate shows to help facilitate the discussion with your children —

netflix anti-bully

netflix anti-bully 2

Big Kids
1. Bully
2.The War
3.Billy Elliott
4.The Fat Boy Chronicles
5.Cyber Bully
Little Kids
1. Hercules
2.Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
3.Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
4.Spy Kids: All the Time in the World
5.Justice League Unlimited
6.Ben 10: Alien Force

How do you broach the topic of bulltying with your kids?
Do they know how to stand up to bullies?

Disclosure: I am a part of the Netflix Stream Team. I have received product and services in exchange for my participation. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

Raising Independent and Responsible Children

I recently saw a meme making it’s way through Facebook recently that basically illustrated how children are constantly asking for things to be done for them. Children who are capable, physically and mentally, to know where and how to dispose of their own garbage, and perform other simple tasks on their own.

I totally relate to the idea that our small children are very dependent on us, but it got me thinking – Are we raising a generation of dependence? Little people who, even now, have their own thoughts and emotions, and their own drive and will. People who will one day, sooner than I’d like to imagine, be on their own. Will they know what to do? Will they be responsible and independent adults?

Certainly, in early development, your children count on you. As infants, they rely on you for nourishment, cleaning, and mobility. As your children grow, they become more independent in these basic areas of living, but still depend on you for love, protection, guidance, and support. As your children reach adolescence and move toward adulthood, they become less reliant on you and gain greater independence in all aspects of their lives. This process of separation prepares your children for the demands of adulthood. But this progression toward adulthood is not inevitable.

We live in a time when so much is being handed to our children. We do everything for them, much to their detriment. Heck, we even try to think for our children and make their decisions for them. As we teach and train our children, I believe it is very important to teach them practical skills they are able to perform on their own – how to solve a problem and formulate opinions, how to create and expand on an idea, how to combat “boredom”, and how to get along with and serve others.

These precious little ones are only in our care for a short time before they must spread their wings and fly. It’s our job to teach them how to spread their wings, so they can fly on their own.

independent and responsible kids

Here are ten ways to encourage independence and responsibility in your children, from the simple to the more complex ::

  1. Allow your children pick out their clothes and dress themselves at an early age. For us this meant that we sometimes went out in public with mismatched and backward clothes, and shoes on the wrong feet. You know what? They don’t care and neither should you.
  2. Middle school age children are old enough to set their alarm and get out of bed on their own on school days. They should also make their own breakfast AND pack their own lunch. Oh, and do their homework without any reminders.
  3. Have a list of daily chores for each of your children, with clear guidelines. Ours receive an allowance for completing chores ,only if they are not reminded constantly to do said chores. Not only does this show the value of hard work, but it also is a good lesson in self government.
  4. Limit media time. Often do our kiddos tell us they are bored, but then they must find something to do to occupy their time, otherwise they are given extra chores to complete with no additional pay.
  5. Follow through on your word. We show by example that when one makes a promise one assumes the responsibilty to follow through on that promise. We make no promise we can not keep.
  6. Encourage questions. While none of children are allowed to argue with us, or ask why, when given a task, they are encouraged to come to us and discuss their thoughts on any situation after they display obedience. We feel this encourages open communication and an environment that allows for them to feel safe even when they disagree.
  7. Give opportunity for open discussion. We talk about an assortment of topics with our children. We share our thoughts and opinions and allow for our children’s opinions to be expressed, without shaming or the pressure to conform to our opinions. In our house there is a clear line between fact and opinion.
  8. Stress the importance of thinking through any ideas or decisions before action is taken. Are my thoughts and intentions pure? Will this be acceptable speech or behavior? There are certainly consequences for all of our decisions, whether good or bad.
  9. No punishment or discipline takes place without discussing the offense in question. Why did you make the decision to call your brother names? Why were you disobedient? 
  10.  Give your children age-appropriate freedom so they can make their own decisions and learn from their mistakes. I am no helicopter mom. I don’t hold my toddler’s hand as he climbs the steps to the slide. I let my older children ride their bikes to the basketball court, and my little guys play out back without me.

 How do you encourage independence and responsibilty in your children as they grow and mature?

Advice From My Daughter :: 10 Things to Do to Be a Better Mom {#BlogEveryDayinMay}

I was talking to my mom and she said she was doing a thing called #BlogEveryDayInMay. Today’s assignment is to “give your advice about anything” so I hacked her blog and want to give you advice on how to be a greater mom than you already are now!

1. Always listen to your kids. If you don’t, they think you don’t care. And they’ll most likely get upset.

2. Play with them. Go outside and explore with them.

3. Teach them things. Like how to bake a cake, or how to ride a bike. Basic things like that.

4. Talk to them. Ask them how their day was at school. ( They’ll tell you mostly everything, if they’re like me. )

5. Take them to fun places. Like the pool or the park. And do it often. They’ll enjoy it.

6. Let them go places by themselves. They won’t be a baby forever, you know!

7. Give your kids chores. They need to learn responsibility for their older years.

8. Tell your kids you love them. Say it often. And make sure they know that you do.

9. Let them know you trust them. If they know you do they will use that trust more carefully.

10. Give them ice cream!!!!! They’ll love you forever. I’m not even joking.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad