From Toddlers to Teenagers

For as long as I’ve been old enough to have kids, I had this fear of having them. It wasn’t newborns or toddlers that scared me, but having teenagers. The thought of it petrified me because I remember being one. And as far as teenagers go, I gotta say, I was a pretty good one.

Mainly it was the thought of having a mouthy teenager that turned my stomach in knots. I recall speaking (probably more often than I care to admit) before I really thought about how my words affected others, and more specifically how those words may have affected my parents. So this thought of having to love and nurture one of those, only to have them say they hate me or something at some point was not my idea of fun.

But so it happens, this year I am the proud Mama of a teenager. In fact, I’m also the proud Mama of a toddler. And I’ve got two in between.

 
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So far, we’ve only had occasional challenges in the ‘mouthy’ department, but the bigger challenge has been making the intentional time and finding the right words to love to a child who rarely seems to need me anymore.

I realize I still have a few years ahead to find our groove, but I’m aiming to find it sooner than later. Because within the next couple years, I’ll have two teenagers. And my fear is no longer how they will hurt me, but instead hoping I don’t hurt, neglect or cause resentment in them.

As I’ve watched 3 of my 4 babies grown into tweens, I’ve realized these four little personalities aren’t just my ‘littles.’ We put so much focus on having the baby or toddler, because it truly is such a special time. But I often wonder, why did no-one tell me how quickly these lil’ babes would become actual people (go figure) with their own personalities, needs, struggles and purpose. No one at my baby shower told me that training them goes far beyond the potty chair and the sippy cup.

As I started thinking about what it means to have my kids grow older, this scripture stuck out to me.

Ephesians 6:4 (amplified) says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger (do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive: nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them), but bring them up (tenderly, with lovingkindness) in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

We so often talk to our kids about honoring or obeying us, their parents, because scripture is clear that if they do, it will be well with them. But how do we as Mamas help them do this?  What does the Word say for us to do? Is just telling them enough?

This verse tells me alot. It tells me to not nag at trivial things. To not embarrass them in front of their friends, to not show favoritism to my younger kids just because they currently need me in a more immediate way, to voice that I care about the things that are important to them, to discipline them with kindness, not irritability. And to train them in the ways of the Lord, not just hope the church youth group does it for me.

Mamas, that’s convicting. And so chock-full of wisdom.

I want more than anything to walk out parenting leaning and being obedient to the truth from God’s word. His ways are always higher. I see days ahead in which it may be hard to put my teenager first. I see days ahead that I may be tempted to provoke them out of my own frustration. I see days that I may forget that they still need me and I may be indifferent to those needs. But if I want my child to love and honor me in obedience to God’s word and for life to be well with them, I have to first set that example of obedience and intentionally instruct them and show them how to love.

It’s easy to pay attention and love our kids when they are actual “littles.” Because they actually do need us to provide practical things for them. And they are always right there wiping their boogers on our legs.

But my prayer is that as our kids get older, God reminds each of us Mamas when to pause mid-sentence, when to pay attention, when instruct and even when just to give our big babies a big ole Mama bear hug, even if that means we are reaching up to hug them because they are taller than us.

 
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