Seasons in parenting: the teenage years (part 1)

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About Robin Dance

Married over half her life to her college sweetheart, Robin's guilty pleasure is Reddi Wip from the can. Mom to three, she's as Southern as sugar-shocked tea. Follow her on Twitter. Her beautiful new blog robindance.me is a must-see.

When Tsh approached me to write about teens in her Seasons of Parenting series,

• It was because my three teens are perfect.
• It was because she knows I’m a parenting expert.
• I twirled a little happy dance, thrilled for an opportunity to encourage you and share a few thoughts in a much LARGER space than my wee little corner of the Internets.

I kid! I kid! Clearly the above is the old game of “a truth and two lies.” No, my 13-, 16-, and 18-year-olds aren’t perfect; nor do I claim to know everything about parenting. But my children are turning into delightful human beings, and isn’t that qualification enough for sharing my best teen parenting tips with you?

Regardless of your child’s current age–older or younger–most of these suggestions can be incorporated into your parenting style now.

1. Give them permission to speak freely.

We’ve cultivated an environment where our children can say anything as long as they do so respectfully. They can disagree with our decisions, try to persuade us to change our minds, and ask questions sometimes we’d rather not answer.

Benefit:

You’ll diffuse their frustration from not having a “voice,” encourage the skills of debate, respectful confrontation and conversation, and model the worthy character trait of reasonableness.

2. Make your home a haven.

Be intentional about family times, even as your teens grow older and more active outside the homeEspecially now. Do whatever you have to do to eat dinner together at least a few times each week — it’s worth your effort.

Your children need you to care about the things that matter to them, so take time to get to know and engage their friends. Have plenty of inexpensive snacks on hand so when they have company, you’re ready (I stock up on “buy one, get one” sales).

Benefit:

Your kids will want to spend more time at home when it’s a welcome gathering spot; so will their friends. It’s better to be “inconvenienced” by playing host to a pack of hungry teenagers than wondering where they are at night.

3. Teach and talk consequences.

Suffering the consequences of their poor decisions is one of your child’s greatest life-lessons. Recently my daughter failed to sign up by the deadline for her youth group trip to Six Flags. Church van seats filled up quickly so latecomers were to arrange their own transportation. My daughter assumed we’d let her make the two-hour drive to Atlanta, so she purchased a ticket.

She was not happy when we informed her she was not allowed to drive, and to go, she’d have to find a ride with an adult. I debated driving a few late signer-uppers myself… until it hit me that was totally bailing them out! Their failure to respect the deadline and make plans in advance was not my problem. She ended up eating the price of the ticket herself…but not before learning an important lesson.

Benefit:

A victim mentality is unattractive and unproductive; children who learn that their choices have natural consequences are trained to make better decisions.


Photo by Izyan Yob

4. Don’t you dare shy away from discussing sex and marriage!

A lot of parents meet the minimum requirement of The Talk. Don’t stop there – please don’t let it be a one-time lecture; make it an ongoing conversation. Even if you’re cringing on the inside, maintain a casual posture.

Remind your children on occasion that: a) You know more than they do, b) You know more than their friends, c) You’ll tell them the truth, and d) You have the benefit of experience. Years after we had those initial talks, I’d continue to throw out topics that turned their faces red — but later, my kids have returned to me to ask specific questions.

You be the one to teach them correct, slang and even offensive words for their body. You inform their thinking about the beauty and significance of sex in marriage as designed by God. You be honest if you made choices you regret. You don’t have to be specific in some of those instances, and of course, consider your child’s maturity level.

They know more than you think they do, by the way.

From their middle-school years on, we’ve challenged our children to listen to us as they grow older regarding their choice for a mate. In the event we had strong reservations about whom they were dating, our hope is that this idea is so ingrained in their thinking, they’ll trust and believe our opinion.

Benefit:

Your children’s view of physical intimacy and marriage will be shaped through your perspective, not their friends. Plus, they’ll have accurate information.

5. The clock is ticking, so give them TIME.

When my oldest was ten, I could’ve maimed my friend who said, “She’s already lived half the amount of time she’s going to be with you….” I’m not suggesting you cling to your teen or live vicariously through him, but remember that eventually he’ll leave home after — high school? college? — and so you need to seize days and moments while he’s still home.

Your teens may seem like they don’t need you, but they still want you. And more important, they want you to want them.

Benefits:

Give your teen enough uninterrupted opportunities to talk, and you’ll get a glimpse into their inner life. Some of our best conversations have taken place in our garage after a drive home from a school activity. One on one, no interruption…and I got to hear their hearts.


Photo by Dan Foy

6. Don’t take it personally.

A healthy teen becomes more independent with each year; gradually, friends become more important to them than family. This is natural, and though it might sting a little (especially if you’ve always been close to your children), it doesn’t mean they love you any less.

Benefit:

Anticipating this phase will prevent your feelings from being hurt, and will prepare you better when your child leaves the nest.

Look for the next 6 words of wisdom next Friday. In the meantime — what are your biggest fears about one day raising teenagers? Or if you’re right in the thick of it, too, what are your nuggets of wisdom?

Join the Conversation

Comments

  1. I loved this, Robin! I’ve raised two teenagers so far, well one is still 19 so she is almost done :-) and I agree with your thoughts! The first one struck me because we encouraged our one of our daughters so much in speaking her mind that she became almost lawyer or politician like in her ability to debate all kind of issues with us :-)! It was amusing and awesome all at the same time. It was that skill of speaking her mind that actually helped her debate her future husband on matters of religion and helped him to find faith in God. :-) So glad we let her learn to speak her mind and gave her the confidence to do it!

    • You’re right, Melissa! This skill, taught at home, will serve them beyond. How funny that your daughter became quite the expert in her ability. But how beautiful the way God used it in the life of her husband :).

  2. I totally agree with everything you have written. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Thanks for these thoughts Robin. We are just at the beginning of the teen years, with a 13 and 11 yr old – it’s intense! A mother I worked for as a nanny before I had kids told me that children need you even more in their teens than they do when they’re little. I didn’t believe her then – but I’m starting to now :)

    • Have you heard the adage, “When your children are young, they step on your toes; when they get a bit older, they step on your heart”?

      Yeah…that :).

      They definitely need you, but it IS different than when they’re little. And don’t be surprised if they ACT like they don’t…they might just not know it ;).

  4. Oh how wonderful!!! So much of the blog world is about the little guys it is just great to find some truth about teens!!! We have just hit the teens with our oldest!!! And I have to say I wish folks would stop saying negative things about teenagers in front of him!!! We love and adore him, as we do all our children and yes all of them are bound to throw us curve balls… I am so aware of how little time we have left together, considering how fast time has flown since his birth, that I am very intentionally spending more time hanging out with him and it is lovely!!! But I will have to get back to you in a few years when I have a couple more teens underfoot!!!

    • You hit on a good point–that so many EXPECT teens to be hellions! While these years have presented their own challenges, it couldn’t be farther from the truth.

      Good for YOU to be so intentionally positive! That makes a huge difference imo.

  5. In a few months my boy/girl twins will turn into teens…and I’ve already seen a huge change in them both in the last year (when they started middle school) I’m bookmarking this to read again. I especially liked “Don’t take it Personally” :) I liked them all, and agree with you. Thanks for writing this!

    • Hi Jennifer, welcome to the Club :).

      I realize my thoughts won’t be for everybody, but hopefully they’re helpful to some :). Puberty is a CRAZY time! My son was more emotional than my daughter when it hit him! I was NOT expecting that! To me, it’s important to realize that hormonal changes DO come into play, and while it doesn’t excuse some of their behavior, it EXPLAINS it.

      It does calm down, though…so hang in there. It’s a bumpy ride for a while :).

  6. I am, very much so, looking forward to the second half… and maybe a book? My oldest is 10 so there’s time for you to put one together! :)

  7. p.s. Can I put my vote in for another sister site on teen life?! We could use the wisdom passed on and encouragement in not being alone. I’m a sponge ready to soak up! Most moms who even read these blogs are.

    • Rachel, starting in 2011, Simple Mom is adding more voices about parenting other ages and stages… Will that suffice for now? :)

  8. Wonderful article! I’d also add:

    Idea #N – Talk about bullying

    Lots of kids these days seem to have zero connection between the utter agonies bullying can inflict on a person’s self-esteem and confidence. Even worse is when you get the pack of hyena kids who thrive on making other kids cry. Teaching the “thinking ahead of the actio”n (ie, what would happen if I do xyz?) is a critical component of my parenting.

  9. Great post! My kids are far from being teenagers (though sometimes I think they are already acting like them), but it is SO good to get the big picture. The teen years rather terrify me — it seems like being a teenager has changed enormously in the past decade or two. I’ve read many books on the rise of peer culture as an all-pervasive influence, and so I heartily agree with family dinners, open conversations, and clearly-communicated love being the highest priorities.

    • I agree, Sarah. I know that in the 16 years since I’ve been in high school, it’s changed quite a bit. The thought of it sends me shivers, and points me more and more towards the homeschool camp. ;)

      That said, I adore my children, and it’s hard to think of them as not loving their mama publicly, agreeing with everything I say, thinking I’m the bee’s knees, etc. etc. I know that’ll change one day. So I’m doing my best to enjoy it now.

  10. This was so good to read. I don’t have teens yet and these years used to terrify me, shortly after coming out of my own and holding my own precious daughter in my arms. But they don’t any more. I’m excited about them!

    We have big goals and dreams as a family to see our children grow and shine during this time. We talk very often about our desire as parents to support THEIR dreams and goals. To help them discover who God made them to be and how to use their gifts. Giving them permission to grow in independence from our tightknit family. I’m just really excited about those years.

    Also we homeschool and currently there is very little peer influence on our children so we get to “set the stage”. I know friends will become more important as they grow but spending these years together is helping lay the foundation I hope for forming positive relationships outside our family during those years.

  11. Thanks for sharing this advice. My husband and I do not have kids yet, but part of this is because the whole idea that one day I will be raising a teenager scares the life out of me – not because some teenagers are difficult, but because it was the most impressionable time for me growing up. I think one of the best points you said here was to be open to listen to your child, with no interruptions. Just like with our adult friends, if we threw in our advice on everything they said, they would soon stop talking to our “know-it-all” selves. Offering advice when prompted creates respect, but giving it for every single experience tells your child that they are not mature enough to handle anything by themselves, and fosters them to shut down towards you emotionally.

    You make raising teenagers sound like it’s pretty simple, and that eases some of my fears.

  12. Robin, this post is fantastic. Thank you so much. I admit, I’m a bit daunted at the thought of parenting teens (and my son is turning 11 so it’s RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER!!) Your advice is practical and uncomplicated and exactly what I needed to hear. Love ya, girl!

  13. Wonderful post. I agree with everything said and am in the middle of this – my husband and I in the process of learning more and more how we want to be with/relate to our teens (our oldest is just 14). One very recent decision was to include some extra $ in our food budget so that we don’t feel stressed over my son and his (big eater) friends hanging out here lots. Honestly, I LOVE walking through these teen years with my son.

    I think that the open-communication part of this begins before the teen years. I regularly try and connect with my 11 yr old daughter on issues and remind her that we can talk about anything. If ever our kids think we’re too hard on them, or they disagree with something, they are free to come to us and discuss – respectfully, of course. I make it clear that I am human and make mistakes and am in the learning process just like them.

    Anyways, I’m thrilled to see posts relating to teens. Keep them coming!

  14. Robin, great post and every point hits the proverbial nail on the head! I’m saving this for my friends with younger kids – they always ask what it’s like to have teens!

  15. this was a fantastic and inspiring read! thank you!!!

    my children are only 4 and 6 but so much of what robin wrote really resonated and made SO much sense to me!!

  16. I am starting to feel quite overwhelmed. I’ve felt that way for the past few years actually. My daughter is 13. She has a good head on her shoulders, but I feel completely overwhelmed as a parent and the daunting task it is! Just this morning I had to sign her mid-term grades which included D’s! I am a single mom to three 13, 5, 22mo and the feelings like I’m failing miserably hit me more often than I thought they would. I don’t know if I’ll even be half as good a mom as some of the other readers, but the thing that this post reminded me to do is stop and listen to my daughter. Something that I probably have been falling short on for a while now. While I meet her physical needs and try to make time for her activities, I may not stop and listen to her as much as I should. I’m going to get through these years…somehow. God will bring us through. I thought I would be ready; but now…I’m scared!

  17. I would love to read more articles about raising teens. It’s interesting that there is always so much about raising young children (which is wonderful when you’re there) but topics about teens drops off. Thank you for this series!

  18. Loved this article. I want to second someone’s suggestion for a Teen site.

    I have a 13 year old and one thing I’m learning is not to assume they are living the values we taught. For example, we have same sex marriages in our family and circle of friends. I assumed this made my daughter aware of derogatory terms. Well, I recently overheard her and her friends joking about another friend calling him a “F*g”. I was appalled. I waited for a quiet time and talked to her about it. She wasn’t really aware that it was like using the “N” word. So, I learned that we actually have to take time to have these discussions and not assume they know such terms…this goes with some slang that is used for sexual innuendos.

    Looking forward to Monday’s words of wisdom

  19. I’ve got a 10 year old so we’re getting close to the teens. We have allowed our kids to speak their minds and our oldest is a great debater. She has an uncanny ability to pick apart conversation and get to the core of the issue or spot inconsistency. But then my wife is very good at that as well.

    I really appreciate your thoughts on consequences because it’ really how our kids learn how life works.

    Thank you for sharing these these great tips.

  20. Love this post! As a mom to 14, 16 and 19 year olds I completely agree that teens are delightful! Wonderful to see their development and capabilities, and help grow their ability to express and support their thoughts and opinions. Ours are excellent negotiators too, which helps negotiate now but also develops skills for their future.

    I’d also second the motion to increase the food budget! Ours eat astronomical amounts, and we do encourage having friends over at our house, so that we get to know them, and as a result, often feed extras. (And some of them are lost souls, who really need a 2nd family.)

    I’d just add–when disagreements or poor/unacceptable behavior comes up (and we had some very bad times with the eldest), I’d recommend being really clear that it’s the behavior, and CONSTANTLY reinforce “I love you”… “I’ll tell you things you don’t want to hear because I love you.”… “I love you enough to be a real pain about this…” They may have friends or acquaintances with permissive parents, and after a while they “get” it; it also feeds their self esteem for the hard times.

  21. great words of wisdom!

    i think #2 is an area where we come across some challenges. in our home, we have a HUGE gap between our oldest and the rest of our kids. our oldest is 13 while the other 2 or 4 and 1. this gap can be tricky when we try to work out family outings, and even having friends over. because the 2 youngest still take naps and goes to bed much earlier than our teen, it limits when (and sometimes how many) friends can come over. also, we try to teach our 2 youngest about respecting our teen’s space and time when friends are over, but it can be a little heartbreaking since the little ones enjoy being with their big brother.

  22. My oldest is 11 and delightful- I really think homeschooling and churchgoing helps a ton- but these tips will be put to use slowly but surely

  23. Robin this was awesome! I will keep all these pointers in mind as my little ones get older.

  24. loved this post! I have 3 boys. My oldest is on his way to being 15. Middle School was a little challenging. For some reason this year has been off to a pretty good start. I totally agree with you on all you said. I think we have been pretty open with Isaac (my son). We do talk about lots of the things needed like relationships, girls, sex, marriage, drugs, etc. We let him know he can come talk whenever he needs to or wants to. There are times when my feeling get a little hurt when he talks to others like my sister or sister in law…but i am grateful he has people to talk to…I grew up with strict parents who never talked to me about the importants stuff…so i try to do the things i wished they would have…anyway..great pointers!!

  25. I would add don’t be afraid to talk about drugs and alcohol along with sex and marriage.

  26. EXCELLENT advice! Mine are 21, almost 16 and 12, and I could not agree with you more. I see areas that I have believed and shared with others, and I see areas where I haven’t done so well, but have improved over time!
    Did I already say this is EXCELLENT advice? =)
    Really, really enjoyed this post!

  27. My biggest fear is different for each child. I fear my eldest (daughter) and I will continue and worsen at butting heads. We are so much alike and we both run one another the wrong way. My son, I already have to take lots of time to crack open his little heart and get him to share stuff that has him confused and frustrated… I am so scared he will stop talking as he gets older… I watch my youngest brother go through that and it was so scary for my folks.

  28. What a great post! My daughter is still a preschooler, but, you’re right: a lot of these ideas are helpful now. And thanks so much for encouraging parents to talk about sex and marriage. DH and I resolved pre-parenting days to follow the kind of path you describe, but it’s hard sometimes. It’s amazing how many of our friends and family (especially the Christian ones, unfortunately) are uncomfortable, passive-aggressive, or even openly hostile about the fact that our daughter knows correct names for ALL her body parts. It helps to know that there are other believing parents who share our desire to be our daughter’s primary source of information about her body and sexuality.

  29. WOW… you hit each point right on the nail. I have 4 teenages..my boy is 14 and my girls are 17, 18 & 19. I was able to totally relate to everything you said and I agree with absolutely everything you said! It was so nice to read something about teenagers because thats exactly where I am at. I am looking forward to the next post on Monday.

  30. EXCELLENT. We have three teenage sons (with five more to become teens) and this is right on the money!

  31. Wow! Great post. As a mom to a 13 (almost 14) year old I can totally agree with all that you mentioned in this post. I believe I am right now enjoying the fruit of most of these strategies. After doing much research before my daughter hit the preteen years I came away with one basic truth – it is all about communication. I really liked your first point about giving them a voice. It has reminded me of what I desire in our relationship and has made me ponder if lately I have been doing that for her. I am going to pay more attention during our upcoming conversations and also ask her what she thinks. I love most asking my kids questions. The answers so often surprise me. Thanks for the encouragement and inspiration.

  32. Great post, Robin. I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said. I’m in the thick of it right now, too, with three teenage (one is 3 months away) daughters. Whew! It is SO MUCH FUN!!! I absolutely love parenting teenagers so much more than the little ones. They actually talk and respond and have opinions. It’s awesome.

    I would add one piece of advice: Don’t make parenting decisions based on fear. Trust your kids (within reason) and trust God. All the time. Pray hard and follow His lead.

  33. Coming from a mother who is just entering this season of life with our oldest, I can appreciate the points you have made!! Looking forward to the next installment… And I’m not ashamed to say that I have printed out this post so I can read and re-read again in times of need! :)

  34. Yay! Finally something for mama’s of teenagers! Woohoo! The blog world seems to be more than adequately covered with “little” ones advice and goodies to buy/review. But….we parents of teens/college kids have minimal choices.
    Thank you Robin.

    I’m pretty wacky mad for my teens too. My oldest is now 20 and in college, my girls are 16 & 17 and are students at the high school where I work.
    I LOVE TEENS!!!
    My husband and I have tried to raise them to be amazing adults. From day one we focused on the qualities that we felt honored God the most. Then mixed in there tons of lovin, fun….and TIME!!

    Each of them are so unique. All three of them are strong leaders. I love so many things about each of them….but something that just squeezes my mom heart is–they will not waiver with their faith. They truly live out the “do not comform” thing. In the community, school/environment they live….it could be so easy to follow the crowd. But, they are not moved to be like anyone else around them. And….they are PICKY with who they hang out with!
    Halleluia!!!

    I <3 Teens!

  35. Great tips! I have a 14 year old daughter … and the last two years have been the hardest of my entire life. I have learned some of your tips the hard way, so those who don’t have teens yet would be wise to take your sage advice! ;0) Especially about one-on-one time and making your home a haven. I just made bacon, eggs and pancakes for a table full of teenage girls this morning!

  36. Great post. It’s so refreshing to hear from someone who thinks teenagers are great! Right now my 17-year-old is home from college on fall break, and with him always come his 2 best friends. As much as I’d like a little time alone just with him, I love knowing that OUR home is the haven—the one where everyone hangs out.

  37. Hey guys, I don’t mean to seem like a jerk for not replying to everyone (yet), but it’s Fall Break, my husband is off work for the week and we’ve got several college visits planned!

    But I HAD to pop in to THANK YOU for your overwhelming kind response to the beginning of this series! You’ve been wonderful and I’m grateful. I AM reading all comments via email and as soon as I have a block of time, I’ll get back to replying to you. In the meantime……….heartfelt thanks and prayers to YOU for your parenting journey!

    xo,

    ~ Robin @ PENSIEVE

  38. Tsh, I can understand why this needed no editing/shortening. It was a delicious read from beginning to end, and the photos were even terrific.

    Robin, your humor and insight was such fun to read. I had kept this post aside until I had quiet time to read it and I’m so thankful I did. It wasn’t the kind to skim over. Each part was good and something I could relate to, even though I don’t parent any teenagers just yet.

    Thank you. I hope you’re enjoying your family time during your college visits.

  39. Loved reading this. I’m in the middle of the early teenage years with our daughter and all I can say is wow, it’s challenging. Even if you have a “good” kid there are so many, many things in the culture and in the times that we live that are difficult and challenging to understand. I especially agree with the idea of uninterrupted time for the child to speak. They have so much swirling around inside. Home should be the haven, the parents’ the comforter, the soundboard, the friend.

  40. I have 4 kids under 5 y/o and expecting another. We have pretty conservative values, and I have this notion of not allowing/expecting “typical” (negative) teenage behavior… I’ve seen that it can be done as portrayed in some families around me, but I’m curious as to how that comes about!? I DO believe that teenagers can be compassionate, empathetic and responsible!
    One thing that I am pretty nervous about is facing the same situation I put my mom through: I did NOT care about having things/privileges taken away from me and totally hated her for a while. What do you DO about a kid who just doesn’t care?!

  41. Great post. I have a teen and a pre-teen and find this information really useful. I am already implementing most of these items, and it is encouraging to think that I am on the right track.

  42. I think you are spot on about teens. I have 2 adopted kids. Daughter 19 & son 15. My son is in an RTC in Utah & soon to come back home. I have been learning lots of ways to deal with him better & would like to recomend a great book on communicating with teens. Parenting Teens With Love & Logic by Foster Cline MD & Jim Fay. This is a must read book.

  43. It’s so difficult to not take it personally when they begin to grow up and become their own person. I have always been super close to both my kids now 16/g and 14/b. We have instilled how important family is, this becomes a huge factor being a military family with regular deployments for dad/husband. I suppose it’s my own fault for making my kids the center of my world, but I have been doing my best to not let my hurt feelings show. I realize they need to grow up and out from the nest, but that realization doesn’t make it hurt any less.

  44. Hey, Robin!
    I follow you on your Pensieve site and am a fellow Tennessean. I also am a monthly contributor to Internet Cafe site and write about parenting teens. (a couple of my posts are listed below). Thanks for sharing these 2 posts about parenting teens. It is refreshing for me to get another perspective and some helpful reminders!

    Blessings to you,

    Lisa

    http://internetcafedevotions.com/2010/09/parents-friends-or-foes/

    http://internetcafedevotions.com/2010/08/train-up-not-beat-upaugust-family-counter-edited-version-ready-to-schedule/

  45. avatar
    Kimberly Reed says:

    Robin, what astounding information here! I am a single mom with a 14 yr. old son. We left a severe domestic violence situation when he was just 3, but it’s devastating how much he remembers. He is in counseling, but he still deals with many emotional issues. He has been bullied severely, although that seems to have stopped now that he’s in high school, thank God. His dad is still only allowed supervised visits, but we’re so fortunate because he has multiple “good guys” to look up to. Still, they give and give to help my son, but they can never replace “Dad”. We have both struggled with this. His behavior has changed drastically since hitting puberty. I’m dropping the ball by trying to be both mom and dad to him. I do remind him DAILY that I am his #1 “go to” person if he needs to talk about anything. Then, I list all of the other awesome people who are also “go to” people in his life, that he can freely open up to. Some things are so much easier to discuss with a male! I think we have great communication, but sometimes, I have to pry things out of him because he tends to hold things in. He is such a great kid, and although this stage is challenging, I LOVE it! I cannot afford to live in a large apartment, so this always poses an issue as far as his friends hanging out here. I have also worked hard with him about talking with me about sex, drugs, peer pressure, and how to deal with bullying. Sometimes,his questions regarding sex blow my mind…that is NOT something he is uncomfortable speaking with me about. I am grateful for this though! I don’t like him hearing “second hand” information that is incorrect. I was fearful that his transition to high school would be extremely difficult for him. He struggles with change, and he also suffers from an anxiety disorder. Turns out that I was the one freaking out! He’s thriving academically, initiating more friendships, and his self-esteem is improving. We do butt heads sometimes because, as a result of his disorder, if he gets an idea stuck in his head, it is nearly impossible to talk him down. I will readily admit that I have become angry at times because he is now starting to “push my buttons”, be disrespectful to me at times, and recently started lying. Yelling back and forth is certainly no solution, so we have discussed TOGETHER more appropriate ways to deal with this,even if it means that I NEED a time out! I have to be very firm about disrespect toward me, and I do tell him that it is verbally abusive to do so. I want to teach him now how to respect a woman, and that lying can quickly become a habit, and it will negatively impact his life. We are Christians, and he still loves to be “tucked in” and share prayers. He is strong in his faith, even at school. He’s excellent at drawing in kids that feel left out because he knows how much that hurts. Often, he discovers that these kids are dealing with similar issues that he’s experienced. One final note that I think is SO important. One day he asked me if he would grow up to be a violent man like his father. I looked him straight in the eyes, and I said that he has attributes of his Heavenly Father. That incredible moment sunk in for him, and life changing for both of us! It removed that worry in the back of his head that has been festering for years, and now, he is free! I have a lot to learn, but I will continue to do my very best, and I believe firmly that God will take care of the rest!! Thank you so much. As many others have said, it’s not often that articles are directed toward raising teens. Thank you for this blessing, and thanks ladies, for sharing your honest feelings. I know I’m not alone in the land of teen-age “boydom”. : ) God bless you all!

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