The most frequent topic request I’ve received in recent years is, “I wish you’d write more about raising teenagers.” I understand this. I used to be dismayed that once moms gained even a little wisdom, they stopped sharing any of it. Because I remember this, I’ve decided to surrender and try my hand. I need to make a couple things clear, though: (1) I am not done mothering. I have no results to really prove myself. Because of this, I’m not promising outcomes. I can’t do that. If you were to turn this series into prescriptive advice and follow it systematically, I have no clue what would happen. I do know that only God saves souls and it is He who directs their steps.
(2) I will continue to respect my children’s privacy. People like personal stories and real photos. But over the years, I’ve told very few stories in which my children were identifiable, and I don’t post photos of them online. I don’t believe in parading children around on the internet, and even though I am in love with my children and think they are adorable, I also believe that private life ought to be kept private. So be prepared for stock photos and general principles with only the occasional story (in which the identity of the guilty parties are never revealed).
All I really have that qualifies me to write this series is a collection of teenagers and a belief that things seem to have gone well so far. I have had at least one teenager in my house for the past almost-seven years, and I will continue to have at least one for the next six. Currently, I have four teenage children: one away at college and three at home. (I like to tell people I have four teenagers, just for fun. You should have seen the shocked look on my optometrist’s face when I mentioned it last time I was there. Good times.)
Raising teenagers is a lot of fun, or at least it can be. I am always sad for folks when it’s not going well. Sometimes the reasons why it’s not going well are out of our control. Other times, there are Things We Can Try. I suppose that’s what this series really is: my attempt to give a bunch of ideas that readers can experiment with. Causes have effects and God gave children parents as very big causes that have effects in their lives. Don’t be afraid to try things and see if they have good effect.
Teenagers are a lot like two-year-olds. You might think I mean they have a lot of emotions. While that is sometimes the case, what I really mean is they get a bad rap from a world that hates children in general. You shouldn’t listen to people who call your toddlers “terrible,” and you shouldn’t listen to those same people when they start to say awful things about adolescents. (They didn’t gain any credibility while your children were growing older.)
Like toddlers, teenagers require a thoughtful approach. They require wise management. Now is not the time to stop paying attention, even if you want to let them think you’re not paying attention. Unlike toddlers, they can more easily tell you if their stomach hurts. That’s an improvement, amiright?
Teenagers are human beings. This means they are just like the rest of us (only moreso, as Charlotte Mason would say). Most importantly, they are body, mind, and soul … united. I will use these divisions throughout the series because they are useful for discussion, but let’s always remember that humans are a unity. This means that a sin problem can look like a food allergy, a bored mind can look like a spiritual problem, and a neurological issue can look like lack of study. To put it more concisely: everything affects everything else. We must take a holistic view.
I’ll be adding posts to this series sporadically, as I have time. You can subscribe to get posts delivered to your email and save yourself the trouble of having to check back for updates.
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