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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The best people on the planet

I've been thinking a lot these days about what it means to parent teenagers the best way possible.
This is where we are these days.
Knee deep.
Well actually neck deep and trying to keep our heads above water.
It's a fine line to walk with our teens. A line of confidant and authoritarian. Enforcer and safe house. Protector and independence encourager. Loving and letting go.

When I add up all our kiddo's teen years, we now have 12 years under our belt of parenting teenagers, and I totally feel like I'm still wingin' it All. The. Time. Just when I feel like I've got something down, God throws another wrench in my monkey barrel, and I start from scratch again with the what if's and how to's
{Really God? You thought I am strong enough to handle all this? You're sure I can do this?  And that I was perfectly selected to be a mama to this child? Okay, I'll give 'er my best shot since You say so.}
It's a pleasure and a gift to be the mama to these 3 amazing teens. When I say I love them it doesn't even come close to the depth of my pride and love that I feel for them. They are absolutely the among the most amazing, wonderful, unique, and best, teenagers people on the entire planet.
But wowzers.
Parenting them is it the hardest work I have ever done! And I really mean that!
Harder than parenting infants.
Harder than parenting toddlers.
Harder than parenting children.
Harder than parenting tweens.
Papa and I have always said that we'd prefer that our children make a series of small to medium mistakes while they were under our roof and still under our supervision and guidance. I mean we all make mistakes and learn from them right?  And mistakes are a tool used to improve character, right? That's what growing up is all about, and we'd much rather teach them now while they are still under our roof, then leave them floundering on their own after they move out.  Right? Someone in the divine oh-so-that's-what-you-think-you-want department, must have heard us say this because that's exactly what it has been. A seemingly endless string of corrections and guidance and teaching and training for for what seems like far longer than I can handle. And the diversity and extent of the "issues" we have dealt with is mind blowing. Some classic. Some obscure. Much of it scary.
In hind sight, I keep thinking, what was I thinking when I thought parenting toddlers was tough?! When they were little it was so cut and dry, and I was all Say please and thank you. Eat broccoli. Share. and Don't stick those tweezers in that light socket! All the issues were so black and white when they were younger   And although it was often hard to implement with a baby on my hip and supper burning on the stove, the answers were simple for the most part.
But as they've gotten older, the parenting has gotten harder.  Somewhere around the tween years, the black and white started to blend.  Now the teen years are upon us and hard parenting is in full force. The teens under our roof are currently 18, 16 and 14, there is a lot of grey going on.  And ya, I referring to both the abundance of grey sprouting on my head and the grey in the guidance I'm trying to give. I live in a sea of grey and doubt. I'm not sure of the right way to handle anything any more. I find myself reaching out to my support system quite often and asking for advice and reassuring answers to Am I doing this okay? And most importantly I'm not damaging them forever, am I?  The issues are often huge-o-mungo and potentially life altering.
Such if the life of a parent of any teenager.
So we just keep winging it.
And loving on them.
And trying continually not to loose our marbles in the process.
I often find myself repeating the same mottos I had when they were babes.
Do the best you can at the time with the tools you have, and give the rest to God. 
When I know better, I'll do better. 
'Cause after all, that's all I've got.


  1. You have beautiful kids! You must be doing something right:) I always kid when I feel like I have made a mistake parenting that "the darn hospital forget to send the manual home with this child!" We are entering tween in a house full of girls! I know it will be hard and am bracing myself! Great post! Thank you!

  2. I only have one child and she will be 16 this month.. I always say that God blessed me with an incredibly easy teen because he knew I couldn't handle a difficult one!

  3. Uh oh. :) I don't have teens yet. But I do see glimpses of grey sometimes, at my SIX AND A HALF YEARS OLD. And it's a bit scary. :P Time flies by sooo fast! Today she is six and tomorrow she'll be twelve and the fun will begin. Grrrreat photos, by the way. The forth is my favoured.

  4. Wow, I feel like you wrote exactly how I feel. I have 3 girls - 21, 19, and 16 and 1 amazing 13 son who has Down syndrome. This is a tough world and it will only be by God's daily grace that we all get through it. Thanks for putting words to my feelings!

  5. I love your blog and enjoy all your photography info! This post is so beautifully said, and true! I've had the exact same thoughts about parenting toddlers compared to parenting teens.

  6. New follower here and am SOOO happy to have found your blog from 1001 Tears! I am a Mom to a fresh (and by that I mean new, ha) teenager and tweens, as well as an adoptive Mom, and I really appreciated reading this post! I can't wait to read more!

    Have a super night!

  7. Love the pictures!! Teen years are supposed to be tough. At least that's what "they" say.

  8. Sometime in my mid-twenties, Mom confided that she felt she had made a number of mistakes in raising me... which led to her making a number of totally new mistakes (she felt) raising my sister as she scrupulously, sometimes without success, tried to avoid repeating what she thought were her mistakes with me. I may be on the inside looking out, but neither AJ nor I have turned out too terribly awful, and as we ourselves have grown we've come to realize just how useful, educational, and helpful those loving "mistakes" were in molding us & preparing us for our own adulthood. Hang in there, you've got great kids and they'll not only forgive your "mistakes," they'll profit from them in the future. (Somewhere in the back of my mind is a small, still voice saying, "It wouldn't work if it was easy.")


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