Parenting Teenagers

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Jon and I just got back from a trip to Mexico.  This is a yearly trip that we take, one that I look forward to for months.  It always has a time of needed relaxation, marriage connection, and learning– in my bag I have my required reading of  a “fun book” and an “educational read.”  This year, however, was a little tougher for me to disconnect and settle into vacation mode.  This possibly happened for a couple of reasons, one of them being I just missed the kids, a lot.  They are getting older now, and although one would think it would get easier to leave them, it seems harder for me.

Our relationships with our children have moved from meeting their basic survival needs (goldfish crackers, stuffed animals, bedtime stories, clean diapers) to trying to build solid, loving, trust-filled relationships with them–in the midst of great swells of emotion–elation (a boy likes me!), sadness (I’m being picked on) disappointment (I didn’t do well on a test), jealousy (my friends got invited but I didn’t).  Then there is the challenge of  the testing of bigger boundaries, reactions to our “no,” and knowing how much independence allowed to them is just enough.

As a parent I’m always asking, “What is working?  What isn’t?”  My two older children bring the burdens of the day home, and then in the whirlwind of carpools and dinner and homework somewhere a word or sentence is thrown out in an unattractive tone returned by a sharp response from us.  It sometimes spirals into conflict and tears, sometimes we’re able to keep it from escalating.  Other times, they are just sad.  Their feelings have been hurt at school, or they are upset at themselves for handling things badly.  I want to fix it but I can’t.  I can just hug–which is sometimes wanted and sometimes not.  I heard a phrase recently that just spoke truth to me, “Moms are only as happy as their saddest child.”  Gosh, that just resonates with me sometimes.

As the plane took off, heading to another country, I sat and thought, gazing out at the miles separating me from my children, like a ball of string unraveling.  I felt like I wanted to fly back to them and hug them all, even if they wouldn’t hug back.

Instead, I stayed in my seat (really didn’t have a choice about that) and flew to our destination, where Jon and I soaked up some warmth. I spent the next 5 days reading The Five Languages of Love for your Teenager, by Gary Chapman.

9780802473134It was excellent.  I learned so much about why parenting teenagers can be so emotionally draining.  The author explained my children to me, and taught me how to respond to the feelings my kids are having at this stage of their lives.  Gary states that our kids have five languages (as do you and I) that speak “love” to us:

Words Of Affirmation

Quality Time

Acts of Service

Gifts

Physical Touch

If we are not speaking our kids’ primary love languages, then their cup is not filled, meaning they may be feeling “unloved” or lonely, even though we think we are showering them with love!  It is important for us to learn to speak our child’s love language.  There is a quiz in the back of the book for your child to take, and it gives us a great insight into what their love language may be.

Jon and I spent a good amount of time taking about what this book was teaching us, and how we could do a better job with our kids.
As we flew home, each mile bringing us closer to reuniting as a family, I was so thankful for the time away to reflect, process and read about how I can be a better mom.  I feel a little more prepared for each day, and hope to be loving my children the way they need.

Even though it was hard to leave my kids, it was probably the best thing I could do to gain some perspective and return with a little more understanding of who they are and my role in their lives,

and sporting a little tan too :).

Blessings,

Amy

 

 

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