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    Educational Philosophy

    The Proper Care and Feeding of Teenagers (Series Introduction)

    March 18, 2022 by Brandy Vencel

    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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  • Reply Rebecca March 27, 2023 at 3:18 pm

    The one thing that has helped me tremendously with my one teenager is magnesium! When he starts to be hormonal…I just give him some magnesium! Not orally but a topical spray. It worked wonders when my kiddos were little and it has been a Godsend as of lately! If his temper is getting the best of him, I just hand him the bottle and walk away. No need to say anything more and he calms down.

  • Reply Hope March 25, 2022 at 7:10 am

    I’m looking forward to this series although I’m years away from my oldest becoming a teen.
    Any recommended books/resources on teaching health/nutrition to young elementary age children?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel March 25, 2022 at 8:58 am

      I don’t do many books at those early ages. I do think there is a danger in children growing up thinking of food as nutritional packages instead of something given by God to be delighted in. So in those ages the more appropriate focus (in my opinion) is teaching them basic virtues — especially temperance — and then having them help in the garden, in the chicken coop (if you have one), and in the kitchen.

      There was a little health book we did in first grade called Prudence and the Millers. It was more general health and good habits, but it gave us language we needed to discuss some of these things.

      • Reply Hope March 25, 2022 at 10:03 am

        Ohh I have Prudence and the Miller’s sitting on my homeschool shelf waiting to be read!

        Yes some great points about teaching food to be enjoyed. Thank you Brandy!

  • Reply Amy March 20, 2022 at 3:17 pm

    Really grateful for this series!!

  • Reply Lisa H March 20, 2022 at 7:07 am

    I am looking forward to this series! I have one teenager now, but will eventually have 5 all in their teens. I do believe that could be a great time with my kids. But, as always, I wonder whether I am getting things started in the right way or just messing things up!

  • Reply Mama Rachael March 19, 2022 at 7:17 pm

    I’m a few years out from having a teenager, and then another several years before #2 is a teen. We are working hard to establish the good relationship now, listening, conversing, talking about big things that will be sorely needed when the dreaded teens arrive. I’ve made a point to remember that I, too, was a teenager at one point and what it was like for me. But then I am/was a people pleaser! And neither of my sons have this weakness. For all our good, I’m not going to be able to cajole them into right behavior. Nope. I’m already praying for God’s work in their hearts! Yep, as I should be.

  • Reply Anne Neulieb March 19, 2022 at 2:49 pm

    I’m so excited you’re writing about this topic!! Like you and so many others I felt the same way as all these wiser-and-more-experienced-than-me moms stopped writing as the children became teenagers. Now I have two brand new teens myself, so I do understand, but I also feel like there are still things to be shared. Thank you!

  • Reply Nelleke March 19, 2022 at 9:35 am

    Thank you for starting this series! I have one teenager now, with four more to come eventually. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

  • Reply Angie Tester March 19, 2022 at 4:43 am

    They didn’t gain any credibility while your children were growing older 🤩

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