for all you young mamas, i will tell you, that toddler who is wearing you out and is learning to
shout say sweetly ” NO, I do it!”. well. that sorta comes back around again circa age 16. i’m sorry. true story. i realize you know this in theory. however, that cognitive developmental stage piaget believes occurs from birth until 24 months. ish. well it sorta rings true for teenagers. take a look.
“During the early stages, infants are only aware of what is immediately in front of them. They focus on what they see, what they are doing, and physical interactions with their immediate environment.
Because they don’t yet know how things react, they’re constantly experimenting with activities such as shaking or throwing things, putting things in their mouths, and learning about the world through trial and error. The later stages include goal-oriented behavior which brings about a desired result.”
umm hello? sound like an average day with a teenager right?
in all honesty i will readily admit we have had an easy-ish time raising our girls. we have not had any major dramas. and i realize that what has worked for me might not work for every teen. i do.
i won’t list the “oh my gosh,surely my child would never” type things because we all know them. and honestly i think we each assume, if we’re honest, that our child will…well….never do many of the things on the list. but i’ll be honest. i’m not a helicopter mom. i’m not one to micromanage my girls. i extend trust to them and give them freedom ( before they actually “earn it”)…because i trust them and i want them to feel that i trust them.. if they prove me wrong, i take away the privilege. and i don’t think i’m stupid either. and i was 16 once too. and “there but by the grace of god go i….”. so i’m aware what’s going on out there. my husband is a principal in a large public school. we’re not sitting here with our heads deep in the sand.
do you understand what i’m trying to say?
for example, if i make my girls call & text me from every event. if i drive by and scope out the scene. if i send out “spies”. if i follow their ever loving words, tweet after tweet, at what point will they think that i think they make good choices?
i’ll tell you when— like never.
do i expect them to be perfect? well of course not.
do i expect them to never break any rules or act differently than i’ve raised them? get real.
do i expect that they’ll believe everything i believe and always say “yes ma’am, let me get the door for you, and have a great day” and “no thank you, i don’t smoke weed”…well i’d like to think so…i hope so…but who i am to sit here at my little desk and think that. do i blindly think that they’ll never do anything wrong…that i define as wrong? no ma’am.
what do i want? i want my girls to know- that they know- that they know- that i believe in them. i believe they’re good. i know they’re trying. i know they live in a generation much tougher than anything i grew up in. i want to gift them the glorious freedom that is the benefit of the doubt. i want them to be proud of their decisions. i want them to have priorities and convictions. that their mom and dad think the good of them.
your kiddos want the benefit of the doubt. they want to know that you believe in them. not doubt them. they want you to actually respect them. or at least they do in our home. it seems the more we try to dominate their every thought & every decision the more they need to pull away & thus shut down…and not talk. and friends, if you have a teenager in your home, you want them to talk to you. they’ll spend hours and hours on that little iphone. they’ll spend hours & hours on facebook….when they plunk down beside your bed when you can barely keep your eyes open another moment, you want them to talk to you. ( oh and another free tip for you. don’t over react or freak out when they share something with you that deserves a jaw drop. you know, sorta like that commercial about ‘never let them see you sweat’?—yes. so when you want to over react and freak out. please don’t. thank me later)
you might call me naive? i beg to differ. and honestly, i’m 2.5 years shy of 50 so at this point, if you send me a “are you stupid” email or comment, i won’t reply. that’s the beauty of old age. ha! you might say ‘this won’t work with my child’. i’m not a child psychologist nor am i licensed therapist, i’m simply sharing how i do what i do, on most days.
i want my girls to be in the world and experience the world-this beautiful diversified world that is sometimes messy and scary and different. i don’t want them to grow up and never know what it’s like to communicate with someone who’s religion is different from their own. i am not shielding them from the cussing and the drinking that goes on at the age. that is not the same as raising them with convictions and beliefs…beliefs that become their own…not just mama and daddy’s. i want them to not want to drink underage ( and all the problems that follow along with that choice). i want them to WANT to be christ to their friends–of all races. i want them to be HOPE and GRACE to a world that needs it, not sheltered away from the world. i want them to WAIT until marriage. blah blah blah.
i want them to learn how to navigate relationships…..they’ll learn while they live under our roof and then the confidence that they develop ( while under our roof) will hopefully send them out into the world, equipped and with a love and mercy and genuine interest in those around them.
my emi girl. smile. she is gentle and loving and finds fault in like…you know… no one. she’s happy and silly and has some serious school spirit. she loves big & deep and wide. she wants to be a school teacher or maybe a missionary. she’s wonderful with little ones and has always had a maternal spirit. she has huge brown eyes that see the good. she has a heart that genuinely loves. and loves well.
when i read those words by piaget– i’m just kidding about emi. she’s not internally focused. not at all. she has a heart for the world. for real. so much so that i’m sorta worried she’s going to leave atlanta & be a missionary…in another country! ( i kid. sorta. my mama heart would be nothing short of PROUD…but ya’ll know i want my girlies close by!)
she’s making good choices. in the last week alone, i have had FIVE –(actually, this post was in my drafts & last night i had one more, so SIX ) adults reach out to me ( all from different areas of her life) and share something they see in emi. what a great example to younger girls she is. what good choices she’s making. how she’s always loving and kind. i haven’t had six people tell me anything consistent in the last week other than that. how cool is that?
sometimes with teenagers its hard to share all about their world on a blog where their friends actually drop in and read, but emi girl, i’m so proud of you. we bang heads because…well, you’re 17 and that’s just part of growing up….but i love you dearly & will always be proud to be your mama…even if you move
far far away to peru and become a missionary!
( let me insert here for those of you who just made it through an epic long post. i do NOT share these type things to bring any light on me. or dan. i whole-heartedly believe our kids deal with non-stop pressure. non-stop “you’re not enoughs” in their life. i am using this as a platform to encourage them. this is also not any verbal condemnation on parenting styles that are different than mine. i pinkie promise. )
go forth and gift your teenager with the benefit of the doubt. it may not change the very next thing ya’ll are going to go through, but i fully believe it will bring change. it will.