3 Efforts I'm Making With My Teens In The New Year(and No--They're Not Resolutions)
Many years ago I resolved against setting New Year’s resolutions. Though I know not everyone feels the same, for me they seem like desperate declarations made at midnight while sitting on my couch watching people freeze in Times Square.
Of course this is the week when a million articles and suggestions for how to take on 2016 with vigor will flood the Internet, including advice for making goals, and (SO) many health-focused articles on losing weight.
However, what I don't see are ideas and resolutions for raising adolescents in the new year.
Recently I came upon an article about how no one wants to blog when they have children older than 10-years-old. The author, also a mom, talked about how much she needs these articles. I totally get it, though I'm afraid every single post would have titles like, “Raising A Teenager Is Hard Work,” and “Have I Mentioned Just How Hard It Is To Raise Teens?” and “Living With An Adolescent--What To Do?”
The truth is that parents of teens feel inadequate ALL. THE. TIME. We can't control our kids, and feel helpless frequently. It's for this reason that I'm refusing to set a resolution regarding my parenting; anything I can’t control in my home for the upcoming year just sets me up to fail. However, it doesn’t mean that I can't refocus and double-down my efforts with my kids.
3 Efforts I'm Making With My Teens In The New Year (and No--They're Not Resolutions)
- I'm Showing Them Love Even On The Days I Don’t Like Them: When I was in high school my mom would say, “I always love you, but I don’t always like you.” I hated it because I thought she should always like me. Yet now as a mom of teens, I understand exactly what she meant. The reality is that sometimes my teens are on a roller coaster of emotions; I don't know if I'm talking to Jekyll or Hyde in a given moment. In other words, I don’t always like the reactions and interactions I have with them. It can be easy for me to get hurt, defensive, and angry. Measuring my words carefully, staying the course, and letting them know even in these moments when we are toe-to-toe that I love them will continue to be invaluable.
- I'm Speaking Life Into Their Souls When I Would Rather Walk Away: There is SO much insecurity involved in adolescence and our teens often only show their true colors of anxiety in the safety of home. Everyone else sees confidence, humor, athleticism, and intelligence. As parents we get all the rest. So much of my time is spent telling them their hair looks great, their outfit doesn't make them look fat, that they're brilliant, wonderful, and amazing. I have the same conversations every day (it gets old), but they need me to keep speaking truth into their souls. They need to hear for the millionth time how amazing God made them to be, the reality of their strengths, and that they will indeed make it through these years.
- I'm Going To Keep Showing Up: I experience a constant tug-of-war when raising teens. On their end of the rope, they need me but act like they don’t want me. On my end, I feel like I'm either overly engaged or totally disconnected as a parent. This constant tension makes me want to loosen my grip and just leave them alone. I resist the temptation, though, because my children need me to keep showing up. They need me to teach them how to be an adult while at the same time embracing them as my child. So in 2016, on the days when I want to give up, I will instead press in and keep showing up in the lives of my kids.
When the ball drops in Times Square this year, instead of setting resolutions I'll remind myself that a fresh perspective makes a clean slate. And I'll be looking to January 1st as a new day to know my kids will one day be beyond this, and it will be beautiful.