I remember it like it was yesterday. My mom had bought a television… FOR MY ROOM! That was a really big deal in 1976 and I was one excited teenage girl! But Mom had become a busy working woman whose priorities had changed.
Not long after that gracious gift assumed its rightful place in the corner of my room, my mom and I had a big blow out. In the midst of the mayhem my sweet mom looked me in the eye and cried out, “Good grief, Stephanie! We bought you a television for your room! What more do you want?”
As a tear fell from my eye, I blurted out, “I WANT YOU!”
You see, my 14 year old frame may have made me look like I was all grown up, but my 14 year old heart still needed my mommy.
I was blessed with a good mom, but even good moms often get so busy they forget that just because a teenager looks like an adult… and just because a teenager THINKS she’s an adult, she’s still growing up and she still needs her mommy.
Studies have shown that the human brain continues to develop well into into the twenties. And while teenagers have the potential to learn oodles of information, the part of their brain that relates to emotions and decision-making is still developing.
That may explain why teenagers often think they call leap tall buildings in a single bound or why they just don’t seem to process life the way an adult does.
The powder-keg combination of a developing brain and raging hormones may explain their unexplainable behavior but it also is an important indication that they’re still growing up and you aren’t finished being Mom.
Children need their parents. They need their time. They need their attention. They need their instruction. They need their wisdom. They need their love. Even when they are teenagers. Often, especially while they are teenagers.
While it’s easy to mistake a grown-up body and an independent attitude for an adult, she really isn’t an adult yet. She needs her mommy…. still!
Here are 5 ways a mom can parent her teenager well:
1. Be present when you are present. In this world of technology social media and crazy-busy lifestyles many moms are simply so distracted when they are with their children that they don’t even make eye contact when they’re talking. It’s easy to let life get so hectic that you miss opportunities to speak truth and encouragement into your teens life. Turn the phones on silent and tune the world out – and tune your kids in. When you’re present with your kids, be present.
2. Keep your eyes open and your heart ready. A good conversation with your teen isn’t as easy to come by as it was when they were younger. They’re not little sponges anymore and they don’t just sit there and absorb your carefully doled out words of wisdom. So you have to diligently watch for those sparse opportunities when they are open for and in need of a conversation
3. Listen well. Sometimes you never speak louder than when you listen. Your willingness to not only hear their words but hear their heart will break down walls that threaten to divide – and build the foundation for future conversations. When you sincerely listen without interrupting them with what you know they need to hear, you open the door to freely share it later in the conversation.
4. Have fun with your teens. Tension levels are often at an all-time high when you’re parenting a teen. Moms who intentionally and spontaneously have fun with their teens create an atmosphere where conversation comes more easily. Laughter is an important aspect of any relationship, but it’s a bridge-builder for a parent’s relationship with their teen.
5. Pray with, for and in front of your teens. There is no greater work than that of prayer. Your teens need to know you pray for them. Teens are faced with challenges and temptations we never even had to consider. When they hear you pray for them about those things, they know you know how they feel… they see that you see what they’re going through… and in the midst of it all, they learn how to pray.
Parenting a teen isn’t easy but don’t let their adult bodies and independent attitudes fool you – they still need their mommy.
Are you struggling in your relationship with your teen? What advice would you give the parent of a teenage?