Mother's Day Perspectives: Raising Teenagers

Have you ever vacuumed up your child’s hair? Most of you probably can answer yes. But have you vacuumed up your child's hair while it was still attached to their head? Unfortunately, I can also answer yes to that one. Oops.

I know, I know. Mom of the year. I wish I could say that it was a freak accident and that she was four when this happened. But she was nineteen, laying in the kitchen floor telling some dramatic story, and I jokingly nudged the vacuum her way when all of a sudden she screams that the vacuum is stuck to her head. Her younger sister walked out laughing hysterically and I had to turn around for a moment because I was laughing too. Oops again!

Holding back laughter, I proceeded to unscrew the top of the vacuum and unravel her hair piece by piece. She was relieved that I didn't have to cut her hair, but she didn't speak to me for about three days. Now I tell her it will be the first chapter in my memoir.  

This experience pretty much sums up raising two teenage daughters for me. The drama, a yell or two, tears, and lots of laughter. Everyday life.

And things have only gotten more difficult as they’ve grown. I remember when one of my daughters would walk out of her bedroom with a princess dress on, light-up high heels, jewelry galore, and at least one hundred different bows in her hair. The most confident four-year-old you had ever seen. I knew better than to ask her to change, even for a five-minute run to the grocery store. She would make my quick trip to Walmart a 45-minute shopping experience as she would hold her dress up to show off her light-up heels and walk as slow as possible down the aisle.

But like most girls, and that confident four-year-old grocery store princess turned into a teenager riddled with body-image issues. This change was hard for this mom to swallow. The comparison trap can quickly emerge in your home and cause chaos.

That’s not to mention all of the other fun things that come with raising teenagers. My husband Richard and I decided a long time ago to be real with our kids about topics that are hard to talk about. That sounds like a good plan until you actually have to have those awkward conversations.

I remember when it was time for each of them to get the talk. It was time to “be real”. I ended up telling Richard I thought it would mean more coming from him - it sounded good and got me out of it. Neither of them ever mentioned to me the details, but something that my husband and I both want to do is help them understand their worth.

Those conversations are hard too, especially when their hearts get broken. I remember my oldest daughter’s first real "boyfriend break up". I honestly didn't know what to say, so I called one of our friends who was in college and asked that she would come get her. When she came back there was a lot of silence and then a piercing "Mom, please don’t ask me about it".

I first instinct was to fix it. I wanted to give that boy a piece of my mind and tell my daughter over and over again how this didn’t mean she was any less valuable. But as parents, there are times we can choose to fix things and or just be still. I chose to be still in this moment, even though it was really hard. I soaked up her heartache and wanted to say a million things, but I knew I couldn’t act on it.

There are so many hard parenting moments, but so many good too. Being able to now laugh about sucking my kid’s hair in a vacuum, the hugs, and having my daughter tell me she has found a new love for ministry are all moments that make parenting so sweet and worth it.

I truly believe the key to parenting any age is to know that seasons come and go. From diapers and tantrums to drama as a teenager, the only things that can be constant is the love you feel and show your child.

I believe God gave Richard and me our daughters as gifts, and knowing that they are His first helps us understand that if we make mistakes it's okay. God understands them and because of that I can rest, fully knowing that He is the ultimate Father, and that's really all that matters. God, the creator of the universe, wants the best for my girls. He wants to use them, their insecurities, their heartbreak, and traumatizing vacuum stories for His glory.

It's my job as a parent to remove the clutter so that they can lean into the story God has for them to write. Removing clutter begins with prayer and ends with my hands held high, saying “I surrender”. It's me telling my girls that they are beautiful, that I love them, and that the God of the universe still sees them as confident grocery store princesses.

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