Category Archives: motherhood

Top 10 Ways to Parent a Teenager

Top 10 Ways to Parent a Teenager

my gangAfter parenting 4 amazing kids, for almost 30 years, I thought I would share some of the toughest things I’ve had to learn (and am still learning) through the process…

Top 10 Ways to Parent a Teenager

  1. LISTEN and ASK questionsChill questions. Casual. Don’t act like Sherlock. The point is to ask questions that usually require something more than a grunt, and hopefully you’ve been listening and can come up with one that they will want to answer. A great place to attempt this, is at the dinner table or while they are trapped in the car with you. (This is tricky, and requires much effort and patience on your part.  Don’t get discouraged, it will get easier)
  2. Set guardrails a/k/a boundaries and rules with set consequences.  Rules or, as I like to call them, non-negotiables; such as lying, cheating, disrespecting you, getting a zero on a report card… I don’t know what yours would be, but I’m talking about the issues you will fight to the death for.  Those are in stone and set your family’s standards.  Everything else is a guardrail, which you discuss, explain and can possibly  alter under circumstances.  If these are in place, then you are parenting  proactively instead of reactively. (much easier for day to day drama) Really.
  3. Hang out with them.  Have a date night. A shopping trip or, a breakfast out.  Something my gangthat you regularly do with your kid – that’s different than the daily grind.  Be intentional.
  4.  Know your Social Media.  No excuses.  If your young person has any kind of an internet identity, then you better know what it is and how it works.  Period.  Take a class if you have to, but it’s the INTERNET. The ENTIRE world in the palm of their hands.
  5.  Know your kids internet passwords.  They don’t have a right to internet privacy. Seriously.  If the government and all the interfaces they are using, know their passwords, and activity, so should you – you, the parent and the person that is supplying all of that electricity, wifi and phone service.  If you both understand the internet, this point is valid.  Check their social media. Now that you know it, and have the passwords, every now and then, do a check.  Kids need parents and accountability.  Otherwise they wouldn’t be kids.  Man up and just do it.  It’s not invading their privacy.  Now reading their diary/journal is a completely different story. Leave that alone.
  6.  Make your home a place they want to be… and their friends.  Find a used ping-pong table or a basketball hoop.  Always have snacks in the pantry and something to drink in the fridge other than milk and water.  (Please don’t think I mean you should have all the latest video games, and let them do whatever they want)
  7.  Say, “I’m Sorry.”  Be an example of learning from your mistakes.  Especially when you lose your temper with them! Even if they have pushed you over the edge, freaking out is never a good idea. So, when you do freak out, (assuming you’re like me) be sure to tell them you’re sorry.
  8.  Encourage them.  They need it. A lot.  Encourage without sounding like you are babying them. Avoid pinching the cheeks and telling them how cute they are… especially in front of their friends.
  9.  When (not if) they mess up, and come to you, or even if they don’t come to you, never motmobsay, “I told you so.” Don’t even say, “I was afraid that would happen.” Consequences will be hard enough when they hit the wall.  Having you there to listen and love will be much better, and will set the foundations for the impending friendship that you just might have with them someday.  I’m not saying save them from consequences – Don’t do that.  That’s how they learn and grow. I’m saying to love them through it.  They already know they messed up. They don’t need us pointing that out again and again, or telling them what they should’ve done.  This would be a great time to implement #1 …
  10.  Pray with them. Pray for them. Share the Word of God with them in a real way.  It’s not the Churches job to train your kids up in the Lord.  It’s yours.  You can’t be too busy.  You can’t put busyness before that.  If you do, don’t be surprised when they grow up and are too busy for the things of God.  What you make priorities in your life, will probably be theirs.  I know… Ouch.

Parenting teens is hard.  They are emotionally driven, hormonal, men/women children under our stewardship! Thank God we have all of those sweet memories of their first steps and loose teeth to remind us how much we love them!  They are not always going to like us, and will most likely even tell us that they hate us.  (which usually means you’re doing something right) They are full of passion, ideas, hope and energy.  God help us.

This list is far from complete.  I could have made this a “Top 100”.  These are just the ones that were the hardest for me to learn.   I didn’t even address dating! That’s a blog post all unto itself. Really.

What would you add to this list?

 

Growing then Going…

Growing then Going…

Having a baby right before my sweet sixteen was traumatic at the least.

I remember thinking I could handle anything – even a baby… until labor.   I had to be induced, since I was 3 weeks passed my due date and the baby was already over 8 pounds!  I headed to the hospital, stopping for some McDonalds french-fries and a hot fudge sundae (because they go together), I checked in and was prepped for giving birth… I remember being so embarrassed in that little hospital gown, and having the nurses just poke and prod where they needed to.  I was scared out of my mind.  I ended up going through induction all day, to only have an emergency c-section by dinnertime.  I was lucky to be my doctor’s very first horizontal incision…  15 staples across my abdomen… whoo hoo!  Back then you did not go home after 24 or 48 hours. I was in for over a week.  I also shared a room with 5 other new moms.  Visiting hours were the law, and no one could spend the night with you – not even the baby.

My biggest concerns back then were not about how to raise my beautiful baby boy, but more about how much pain I was in, and how long was it going to last… I worried about the scar it would leave, and if the daddy would still love me.  I had no thoughts about the future of this little boy, just thoughts of love… I loved him more than I could have even imagined.  I just knew that Love was all I needed to be the best mama ever, and with my heart just bursting with it – I knew everything would be ok.  That was over 28 years ago, and I remember it like yesterday…

Well, I wish I could say that just loving your child was that simple.  I soon learned that love was more than a feeling.  It was sacrifice.  It was putting your own desires aside for the sake of another.  It was about protecting and even discipline.  Oh how I hated putting him in time-out!

As he grew, I grew.  We experienced a lot back then.  Some things I would like to forget altogether, but I know that the sum of my life now, is the addition of all the experiences I’ve had, both good, and bad, and I am kind of OK with how that turned out…

I am still considered pretty “young” most of the time. Especially in groups of women who have adult children.  I know I still have much to learn… but I can tell you what the hardest part of parenting as been so far… It’s letting go.  It’s having all of those mommy moments and then letting your kids go and just be who they will be.

I love being a mom, even when my heartbreaks, or I am frustrated beyond words.  Nothing I have ever experienced has brought me closer to God, or more dependent on Him than parenting.

Oh, to parent an infant or a toddler once again…. Sigh.

Don’t rush it folks… it will be gone sooner than you think. Really.

 

Tattoo? Really?

Tattoo? Really?

Last week another one of my children informed me that he got a tattoo.  I mentioned the last tattoo milestone in my post “A Week in the Life” awhile ago.  This now makes three of my four kids permanently decorated.  What does this say about my parenting, considering I told all three of them not to? Really?

Now, I’m not a prude, nor am I stranger to the skin ink.  My ex husband has a creepy snake thing on his shoulder and both of my sisters have something, although I don’t remember what.  My beautiful niece and her husband actually own a professional tattoo parlor.  Her husband is a remarkable artist, and I am always amazed at the work  he does.

Many young adults that I know, have recently made the commitment to this art and I’m amazed.   I just don’t understand I guess.  I am not one who believes it is a “sin”, although the famous OT verse, Leviticus 19:28

, is referring to not behaving as the pagans do… so you can take that for what it’s worth…I don’t think having a tattoo makes you any less of a person either, but I personally would just never do it.

Here are my top ten reasons why…

  1. I’m over 40 and I think about my commitments very carefully.
  2. I’ve seen what gravity can do to a body, and sagging art work doesn’t help it.
  3. It hurts.
  4. I’d only be copying my kids…
  5. I don’t want to explain it to my grandkids.
  6. I’m OCD and ADD… I would loose my mind if I couldn’t erase it when I decided I didn’t like it anymore, which I would, and I hear removal hurts even more.
  7. WWJD… Really.  He wouldn’t, cause he was Jewish.
  8. My husband doesn’t like them. (I know this should be reason enough…)
  9. I don’t need to prove, show or remember anything that bad.  That’s what scrapbooks and blogs are for.
  10. I worry enough about moles and freckles…the more I care for my aging skin, the better.

No matter how many people are walking works of art, the stigma will remain, and it’s one I don’t have to worry about.  Am I mad or disappointed with my kids? No.  But I wish they had left their beautiful young skin alone.  It’s a blessing that won’t last, but that tattoo will…Really.

Do you have a tattoo?  If so, I’d love to hear your story.

Africa…Really?

Africa…Really?

My college student, and only daughter, will not be coming home this summer.   She has applied, and has been accepted, into a program through Adventures in Missions.  She will leave the first of June, for a 2-month mission trip in Swaziland, Africa.  Really…

My kids are all service oriented, and have experienced missions on local and national levels, and one of them has served in Mexico for 2 weeks… but none have ever traveled so far and for so long.  It is giving new meaning to “letting go” for me.   I thought sending her to a dorm was hard!  I think my, “Top Ten Ways You Know You Have a Child Going to College” list applies here for the most part… just substitute “college” for “Africa”, although I would add just a few…You know you have a kid going to Africa when…

  1. You dream of fund raising techniques …
  2. You spend excessive amounts of time googling common illnesses of the region. (not recommended)
  3. You get your own passport…just in case.
  4. Praying for safety has taken on a whole new meaning.
  5. You have mixed emotions of pride, humbleness, fear, and faith churning in your heart.

We have had a few folks ask why?  Why Africa?  There is so much need right here!  Spending lots of money and time to travel to a place that has no hope seems crazy!  The governments are never going to allow for real change, so why bother?  Well, that’s all true, but the people suffering in those places with no hope are still people.  One person can make a difference.  One life can be changed and we believe that one life is worth it.  Our faith tells us that Christ instructed his followers to take His message to the ends of the earth, even to the places that seem hopeless.  So, those that are called, go… My daughter has been called, and wild horses couldn’t stop her.

I share this with you for a few reasons; first, I covet your prayers.  For her, and those she will be ministering to…  Then, for her step-dad, and me, but especially for her father.  He carries enough worry for everyone.  Secondly, I want to share this experience with you, because that’s what good bloggers do… and last, but not least, I want to give you the opportunity to support her financially. (Refer to item 1 of my list)

You can click here to donate through Adventures in Missions.  She is going on the “Passport” mission and be sure to put Katie Moberly in the “Participant Full Name” space.

If you would like to know more about her, before you support her, here is her story in her own words…

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope you are all doing well.

 I am writing you this letter to share what has been going on in my life, and the new adventure that God has laid before me.

 Many of you know, two summers ago I went a mission trip to Charlotte, NC. I had several opportunities that summer to travel abroad, in which I was most excited, but as the time came for me to make my decision, I prayed that God would show me where He wanted me to go that summer and my friend invited me to spend a month in North Carolina. My heart was in Africa, so I wasn’t even worried about going to NC but God works in mysterious ways, and all of the doors leading me abroad shut, right in my face. So Charlotte was where I went. And that summer was the one that changed my life.

 Walking along side the children I helped there made me realize my passion is in showing the unloved, that they are loved, and not only by me, but by the Creator.

Now, I have started my first year in college and have been given the opportunity to, once again, go to Africa, and more specifically Swaziland.  And this time, the Lord as opened the door wider than ever. An organization called Adventures in Missions has welcomed me on a team traveling to South Africa, to help in an orphanage this summer for the months of June and July.

 I applied for the program, had an interview, was accepted, paid my commitment fee, and now I am in need of your help.

 First and foremost, your support in prayers is what I desire the most, but I am also in need of a little financial help. The total cost of my trip is $4,985. If you would like to support me, you can make a tax-deductible donation through the mail at: Adventures In Missions, PO Box 534470, Atlanta, GA  30353-447 and be sure put my name in the memo.               

 Thank you so much for your support, and I’m really excited to bring you along this new journey I’m stepping into!

 Swaziland Bound,

Katie Moberly

Acts 1:8

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (NIV)

Have you had a child go off to Africa?  How did you do?

3 Empty Rooms

3 Empty Rooms

I’ve been a bad/sad mood lately.  Well, I guess I should say that I’ve been fighting off a bad/sad mood.   I’m normally a pretty happy kind of girl.  My standard mode of operation when something troubling happens, is to get upset, vent, vent again, pray, repent, and then I’m usually over it.  Just like that.  I don’t dwell or ponder like I used to. (although Rob doesn’t always agree with this statement, so I might be in denial)  It makes for a happier home when I don’t freak out on unsuspecting family members too, and I prefer a happy home… and denial.

So, I was trying to figure out where this bad/sad mood is coming from and I had few ideas.  First and foremost, it’s the devil.  He’s always to blame, so I will give him the credit where it’s due. I also think life as a Mother of four, self-employment, home-schooling, and being involved in youth sports, give ample opportunities for stress.  Plus, I haven’t been to an all you can eat pizza buffet in 11 weeks…Seriously.  With all of that driving me nuts regularly, I think I’ve narrowed it down to one new thing that has happened recently.

My second son moved out last weekend.  I was pretty neutral about it, so I thought.  Don’t get me wrong, I am very proud of him, and I know he can manage out in the world.  He’s twenty-one years young and extremely responsible, for the most part.  The thing is though, this is the third adult kid to go and do things their way, contrary to my recommendations.  Really.  I would think that sooner or later even one of my kids would go, “huh… wow… Mom is almost always right about stuff…  Maybe I should try it the way she suggested?… Hmmmm. Yea!… I’m going to listen to my Mom!”  (Sorry, I really walked down that dream road for a second…)

The funny thing about that is, I am the same way.  I never listened.  I did everything the hard way and it sucked.  Life was hard and it didn’t have to be.  That’s one of the downsides to being strong-willed.  Do I have regrets?  Well, no.  I can’t, because then I wouldn’t be the person I am today.  I am a living testimony of what God can do with a strong-willed life. (can I get an AMEN?)

It’s wanting that testimony for our own kids wherein the problem lies.  The trials we go through is where our growth and character comes from. (Rom.:5:3-4) It’s usually when we are in the middle of a mess, that we cling to God the most.  We are real quick to realize our need for Him at those times, instead of the times when life is all peachy and we are feeling self fulfilled. So, I’ve prayed every day for my kids to walk with God.  I pray for them to have a love and desire for Him that exceeds all else in their lives.  Even when we are the cause of our mess, can we truly appreciate a Savior, if we never feel the need for one?  Can that come without trials?  I don’t know.  I really hope so.

I’m a big talker of faith, and I’ll be the first to share how God has worked things for good in my own life.  I do live in grateful awe every single day that I am forgiven.  It’s walking all of that out as a Mama where I trip sometimes.  It makes the Word so real for me, as God tells us His way, out of His love for us, we continually do things our own way anyway.

Letting go, and having faith in God over our kids lives is not the easiest thing to do.  I know He loves them even more than I can imange.  I hate that God has no grand-children, but then on the other hand, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

If you have any advice for this mom with 3 empty bedrooms…. Please share.

Where am I From?

Where am I From?

I went to a blogging conference last weekend. http://www.thesitsgirls.com/ It was a little overwhelming, and exciting hanging out with a hundred other bloggers, and learning about things I didn’t even know existed. I had to really define my goal and reasons behind blabbering to all of you on a regular basis, and I think I did.  I definitely have my work cut out for me if I truly desire to share my life, help others, and point toward God with my stories and experiences.

One of the break out sessions focused on writing.  They gave us a template of the poem by George Ella Lyon, Where am I From.  Wow.  Several of the ladies filled theirs out in no time, and then shared them with us!  I was only on line three by the time we were supposed to be done.  I don’t know what that says about my creativity, but I was truly intimidated.  Being the good mom that I am, I printed a copy of the template and gave it to my son to fill in as a writing assignment.  He did it faster than me too.  Really.

The session leaders suggested that we put our poems in our next blog, so, now that I finally finished mine, I am sharing.  I asked my son if I could share his too, and he said, “I don’t care.” So here you go. A two for one from the Motmob.

From me:

I am from homemade clothes, from gardening, canning and religion.
I am from the single family home with the mattress, blankets & cuddles in front of the fireplace and corelle dishes that really do break.
I am from the strawberries that hide in the weeds, till my fingers ache.
I am from creativeness, sarcasm and the wringing of hands from Mom and Dad and Mommom Ruth.
I am from do it yourselves, the strong willed and the always right.
From Heaven is real and there’s never enough money.
I’m from Philadelphia and Ireland, beanie weenies, PB&J and mashed potatoes.
From the 500 Ford Galaxy that got pushed up the street at midnight for a moon lit drive on the beach and from being grounded for sneaking out and stealing the car.
From the ship yard, the seamstress, the lawyer and sunday school teacher.
I am from memories stored in boxes and albums, of every scrap of paper and photo from the past, that will be moved from attic to attic until there is nowhere left for them to go.  I am Jennifer.

From our 13 year old son:

I am from blenders and cereal bowls from Imacs and Bibles.
I am from every kind of ball there is.
The cinnamon stick in every room.
I am from the 18 rose bushes.  The cherry blossom tree whom long gone limbs I remember as if they were my own.
I’m from 3 gifts on Christmas and going out to lunch after church. I’m from Mom & Dad.
I’m from cleaning up a mess and leaving the dogs outside and from sneaking a cookie.
I’m from not wanting a gift from Santa, but from my parents and never swallowing my greens with water.
I’m from Jesus loves me this I know and from getting a back scratch.
I’m from Atlanta, Italy and Ireland, chicken puffs, green beans and Friday night pizza.
From my Dad getting hit with a high heel by his mom because he broke a china glass.
The bunny ears behind the head, the box of toys under my bed.
I’m from a great family who loves me and I love them, from baseball to ballet, my family is awesome.

After all my thinking about my life, I think this was a fun exercise after all.  If you would like to do one yourself, here’s a link to a blank template: http://www.swva.net/fred1st/wif.htm and here’s a good one for your kids: http://www.scholastic.com/content/collateral_resources/pdf/t/Target_I_am_from%20poem.pdf  OR you can share some of yourself on the comment section below…. I would love to see where you are from.

Revisiting the College Preparation Blog…

Revisiting the College Preparation Blog…

Back in June, I blogged about helping my daughter prepare for college.  I re-visited that post this evening,  to see if I was still feeling the same, and if my Top 10 list held true through-out the summer.  I can testify that it did.  It is all true…every last one.

Tomorrow morning, we will unload my little girl, with a truck full of boxes, in the middle of a big city, and leave her there to start a new chapter in her life.   It will also be a new chapter in mine.

I’m sure I will cry, but that’s OK…Really.

Below is my blog from June… enjoy.

Yesterday, I took my only daughter shopping for dorm supplies.  She will be heading to college in August.  She is not my oldest, but she’s my first to go, and live on campus at a university, so this is new territory for me.

We had the 10 hour orientation last week – It was brutal.  I didn’t cry, and she didn’t pretend not to know me, so I think it was a win win.  It did however, make this all a tad bit more real for me.  She seemed totally chill with everything. She told me she wasn’t nervous at all!  It was all just too exciting for her.

I know she’s a great student.  She’s pretty responsible with things that matter… to her anyway. She has a relationship with Christ, and a heart to help others.  She knows what she wants, and she’s never been afraid to go for it.  She’s a leader, and knows how to follow when she has to – something that took her mama a while to learn… I know she will be OK, and I know she will miss me, eventually.  I must admit though, I will be anxiously awaiting that first phone call.  The one where she calls just to chat and hear my voice.  When my role as Mom will start to morph, and she will also call me friend.

Here is my top 10 for the week –

Top ten ways you know you have a kid about to go off to college

  1. You cry randomly…
  2. You have more bad dreams then normal
  3. You find yourself saying, “If you can’t blah blah blah here, how will you when you’re on your own?”
  4. You notice the “eye roll” has now been replaced with the “blank stare of don’t care”
  5. You will find anyway to bring up the fact that your child is leaving, in every conversation, even if it doesn’t fit, like when you order your lunch, (Waiter) “Are you ready to order ma’am?” (You) “well, I guess, ya know… I guess I need to get used to eating out more now that my child is going off to college”. (you will get a strange look and fake chuckle with this one)
  6. You will bring it up in every prayer group too… Try not to be to trigger happy with your request.. let other’s go first if you can.
  7. You will hear your child say “I love you mommy” and “leave me alone” several times in the same week.
  8. The intensity of your lectures about sex and drugs will escalate to un-godly proportions.
  9. Your personal prayer life will also intensify.
  10. You will decide that you have done the best you can do, and you will trust in your kid, and more in the God that created them, knowing that they will make mistakes, and you can’t fix everything for them… and that is OK… Really.

If you have any words of advice or would like to share your story or can add to this list, please do!