Friday, August 1, 2014

Past Fears of The Teen Years

When my kids were age 7 and under, I feared the teenage years.  Dreaded them.  Mainly because I reflected on what I saw as a Jr. High teacher, what I heard from teens I knew, or recalled my own past behavior.  It did not help matters that whenever the 'teen years' were mentioned, there always followed a roll of the eyes and the phrase "just you wait" from parents of teens.  I had to learn to put those fears to rest, or at least, keep them on a short leash.

Containing those fears came easier than I thought.  About eight years ago,  I approached the subject  with a  friend, (Brenna) a home school mother of six children ranging in age from 6 - 22.  After witnessing over the course of a few years how polite and well-mannered all her children were, (particularly the teens), how respectful they treated their parents as well as others, I wanted to ask her how she and her husband did it.  (And that is NOT to say her kids were perfect, they weren't.  They just didn't fit the typical out-of-control stereotype.)

Brenna's response to my questions::  "The teenage years are amazing, fantastic, adventurous, tough, and some of the hardest work you will have, but totally worth it!  It's about how you approach it."

Our approach was to pass along our faith and explain the why's behind it as thoroughly as we could, seek advice from like-minded parents, (there are a lot of great people out there who are parents, but that does not mean their idea of parental guidelines are on the same page as your own), not to worry about what the rest of society thought of your parental decisions, and finally, not to cave to  society's standards.

It took releasing a lot of pre-ill conceived notions, but David and I have learned to feel encouraged and optimistic about these teen years.  I say this acknowledging that even though we have a 10th and 8th grader, we are still NEWBIES at this role.  We certainly have so much to learn, since we have already met up with some epic-fail, teen parenting moments.  The fear that was so worrisome years ago, well, it does not need to be.

In addition to reflecting on our parents and taking advice from like-minded veterans, we have found so many resources available to us.  Off the top of my head, I can list these authors that have encouraged parenting through the teenage year:  Dr. Ray Guarendi, Dr. Meg Meeker, MD, Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak...we have read multiple books from each.

Through the blog world, I  have also found some aMAZing moms  who inspire me every day.  Just to name a few, there's Tiffany, at Family at the Foot of the Cross...Laurie, at Keeping It Simple....Kathy, at 9Peas....all moms who have  at least one child currently in or through college.  I love the grace and wisdom that they bring to parenting teenagers/ young adults.  They are so encouraging.

Technology, specifically the Internet, was a game changer in our society.  When we introduced cell phones, (we have not had a land line for almost 8 years), I found the author to Smart Martha's Catholic Guide for Busy Moms so incredibly helpful in the technology department.  Her common sense approach to parenting with technology was a gem to find!  In fact, it is the second chapter of her book, The Media Monster.


There are so many resources to help parents find their way through the maze of teen topics, from technology to sex, from social media to self esteem.  I just want younger parents to know that the teen age years do not have to be so dreaded as David and I thought they were.

Coming full circle, David has taught me that wringing my hands while worrying about if our kids will make poor choices is pointless.  Instead, continue to strive in teaching them their faith, explain the why's, and fill our parental arsenal with good and holy remedies to help our teens when "our kids will make those poor choices."  In other words, be well-prepared instead of living in denial. There's no drama-free family.

~  Patty  ~

11 comments:

  1. Patty, you are so kind for the shout-out! What a great post with encouragement for others. We need more of that to spread around:) Love Dr. Ray! Your friend Brenna had some valuable things to share too, what a blessing. It can be difficult when you have good Catholic friends who permit their teens "to date" or do other things that you do not. That's been a bit tough for us but we do the best to explain why do or do not permit certain things. Keeping our older boys busy with positive and productive "male" activities as helped...Idle time is the devil. Haven't had a girl teen yet! lol (1 more year:) I have to share a story where our 2nd son (age 15) was spending a few hours at a childhood friend's house this summer. (We know and trust the family quite well) The "friend" decided to try drinking. Our son actually called us to come pick him up instead of being pressured into the whole thing. We were so proud of him! I share this to let other parents know that temptations happen everywhere, even in good places where you are comfortable. But teens CAN do the right thing. The difficult part is where we go from here with "that friend." We've been doing a lot of talking and praying around here. It can be exhausting but God's grace comes when we need it most! I still want to read Smart Martha!

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    1. What a great story to share and how strong your son was. Peer pressure is so strong and hard to combat. As I said, there are NO perfect families...everyone has drama. Dating...I forgot to mention, Smart Martha has a chapter dedicated to that as well. One I plan to follow up on (insert a thumbs up sign!)

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  2. When CH & I got married, I was quite a worrier, but he showed me to worry was useless. It's hard knowing/trusting that things you've instilled in your children will guide them when they're out on their own. And, it's hard to not worry at the decisions they're making. You just have to trust, and let them make their own mistakes. Eventually they'll come back around!

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    1. Worrying is useless, isn't it. But I don't think (most) parents never ever really stop worrying, do they. As parents, we just want the souls of our children to go to heaven. Adulthood. Now that's where I'm going to worry because my children will be on their own. I made my BIGGEST mistakes as a young adult out on my own.

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  3. I'm going to keep this post in my favorites file to come back to. While were are not quite there, we're getting closer every day. It's interesting how even my kids' interpretations of the teen years have already been formed. Perhaps it was from what was overheard from us or what they've seen. I've already heard many times "when I'm a teenager, I'm going to be like all the teenagers and do...(xyz)....." While many of those things they perceive are stereotypes or are based on how they seen teens act, most often they are identified by us as rude or disrespectful behavior or entitlement type actions. On this side of the teen years we sit her saying 'our kids better not be like that or do (xyz)' and sometimes hope for the best.
    Your post was insightful and helpful and has given me more perspective in our approach. Thank you. I'll be passing this one on to hubby and we can have further discussion on it.

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    1. You made a very interesting point, Sarah, when you talked about how your kids have formed their opinions already (perhaps) on what teenage years are like. And those opinions could be bad and good. I think my kids have done that in the past as well. I know I had. I think I have looked at my life up through turning 40 with rose colored glasses! Ha ha ha. Now I'm 45 and I'm like, whoa! When did this happen and where in the heck was I?! Instead of looking forward, I'm wishing for some do-overs! LOL

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  4. I love the resources that you mentioned and the blogs too! I just finished reading a book called Raising God First Kids in a Me First World by Barbara Curtis. Not necessarily anything earth shattering new, but very good common sense advice about raising our children. I think attitude is everything and you are right, so is our approach. You and David are doing a great job!! http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/161636534X/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=161636534X&linkCode=as2&tag=fofoalnomawh-20&linkId=U6IUMR7SLDKFLXU5

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  6. My kids' teen years were actually pretty good ones :) !

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  7. Thanks, Patty!! I had an interesting run-in with our pediatrician years ago. In telling him that we had just had our daughter's 16th birthday at our house with about 50 teens, he kept interrupting my story with negative comments. I countered his comments with what great kids they are and how wonderful the teen years are and how much fun we all had... he never did seem to believe me (even though his kids were not yet teens). Sadly, "teen" has become a dirty word- in reality, I think it the teen years are when our children reach an age that we are most able to connect and enjoy their company. After teen years comes the "going away" years. While those have there blessings, I much prefer the "teen years"!! :)

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  8. Thanks for this post! My daughter is creeping towards these teen years...already shows a lot of the symptoms ;o) that people warn me about. But I have confidence that it won't be that bad, and that we will actually have a lot of fun in this next stage! I'm looking forward to developing more of a friendship with her, while continuing to be "mom" of course.... :o) Becky

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