5 Things Your Teen Wants You to Know

Remember when you brought your first baby home and you didn’t take them out of their carseat carrier all night because you were afraid if they woke up, you wouldn’t be able to put them back to sleep?

So you just watched them most of the night.

No? Maybe that was just me.

I was terrified of that 8 pound bundle of baby joy. She cried loud, fists clenched, purple face and that was just taking her socks off.

I was new on the job, uncertain, inexperienced, scared and she was totally the boss of me.

I was a new mom, trying to figure out what my baby needed. I learned that first night that kids bring out the best in you. And the worst. And this classroom of sticky floors has taught me that God uses parenting to reveal my weaknesses.

She’s gotten bigger and we’ve had our ups and downs. Our eyes have locked in the middle of stand downs. We’ve comforted each other, and loved our way back to one another. We have an imperfect relationship. I’ve learned a few things, but some days I feel like that new mom, trying to understand my teenager.

5 Things Our Teens Want Us to Know

I still have a lot to learn, but I’ve discovered 5 things our teens want us to know:

1. They are tired, the exhausted kind: Every time I see another parent of a teenager, I ask them about their teen’s schedule. And I get the same answer: it’s brutal. We held off a lot of extracurricular activities when my kids were younger and I’m so glad we did. Because high school is a whole different game. My daughter is in marching band and she has very long days and is up more than 20 hours on game days. Even without this extracurricular, her academic work load is heavy and then there is homework and projects. We may not be the norm, but across the board, teens don’t get enough sleep and they require more than most think. I’m cautioning her not to add more to her plate, letting her sleep in on the weekends, and mostly, acknowledging that she is tired and needs to rest.

2. They want time alone, but they don’t want to be alone: Teens need space. They want a place to listen to music, read or just relax. I’m learning to give my kids this freedom to unwind. At the same time, teens don’t want to feel alone in the world. They want to know we love them, we understand or we care even if we don’t get it.

3. They thrive on change. Sometimes: The scene goes something like this in our house: “Mom, I love eggs. Can you fix that for my breakfast?” I stock up on eggs and by Wednesday, “I never ever want to eat another egg.” And I’m like, huh? I read recently that teens thrive on change, but don’t stay at one place long. It’s part of their growth and development. Everything in their world is changing constantly–fashion and friends and they figuring out who they are. Remaining unchanged- a constant source of consistency will help them in this sometimes turbulent season.

4. They want you to look for the best in them, even at their worst: We all have horrible, bad, no-good days. I don’t want someone to summarize or stereotype me based on one of these and we shouldn’t do that to our kids either. Call it what it is and start every new day with a fresh start. Don’t hang yesterday’s bad day over their head.

5. They need you to try and understand their world: My favorite time of the day is at night when my older kids are in their rooms. After giving them some time alone to unwind, I like to enter their world, crawl on their bed and just wait for them to talk. They always do. I’ve learned important things going on in their lives when I’m quiet enough to listen. And I’ve discovered they want me to know them.

I love this time in my life with my teens. They challenge and inspire me. They make me laugh and sometimes, cry. We are learning together and making mistakes along the way. But I want them to know I’m on their side. I’m for them.

And sometimes, the best way to tell them is by listening to what they aren’t saying.

Talk to Me: Parenting Survey

I’m in the middle of a big research project. I might even call it one of the biggest, most challenging writing projects of my life.

And I’m not even being dramatic.

I need 1000 people to complete this parenting survey (click over or complete it right here on my blog). It’s anonymous and mostly multiple choice. It will take a few minutes and when you’re done, if you leave a comment on this post, you’ll be entered to win “My family rocks” shirts for your entire immediate family! (Winner will be chosen randomly at the close of the survey).

Talk to me, people.

Would you also consider hitting Share on this post below to help spread the word?

Thanks, friends!

*updated to add* If some of the answers don’t fit your family, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment area. I’m not trying to prove entitlement. I think it’s already been proven in our culture. I’m just trying to determine if we think it’s a problem in our homes and how we are trying to teach our kids to be grateful in light of it. Thank you!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

WFMW: Saying Yes to the Detours

YesWFMW

I’m happy to introduce you to this week’s guest poster Jessica for my Wednesday series Yes, Works For Me! Please welcome her and be encouraged by her yes to God and continue to link up what works for you.

There is a false belief that I often find myself embracing. It is the belief that is I make the right choices things will get easier and the questions will decrease. In my limited experience that is never true.

Three years ago I rolled my suitcase off of a plane in Raleigh, North Carolina, my hometown. I had the most imperceptible baby bump and my husband was 8,000 miles away in West Africa. Our plans to stay there together were cut short by a rocky first trimester and a severe lack of quality prenatal care- ironically enough an issue I was working on as a maternal health advisor.

My husband would follow me home in six weeks and then we would start the process of piecing our life in the States back together. No job. No savings. A baby on the way. Our hearts still on another continent.

Fast forward eighteen months. We ended up in the big city of Charlotte because that is where my husband was able to land a job. It wasn’t ideal, but God met us there. Let me re-state that last sentence. Charlotte was the last place in the state we wanted to be. In fact we would rather have moved out of state, but God put us in Charlotte and gave us the community we needed at that exact time. So after a year and a half of a lack-luster job in Charlotte we decided that we were going to chase another God-sized dream.

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My husband quit his job and we moved back to our beloved North Carolina mountains (where we had met, married and lived prior to our overseas adventures) to join the Stateside work of the agency that we were sent by to West Africa. Financially it was a big leap. God provided for us to house-sit for folks who were overseas for a year. It was a small place for a family of three, but we were grateful and it gave us the ability to stretch our tiny budget and make things work while we raised our financial support.

After a year of living and our ends barely meeting my husband was offered a job clear out of the blue sky. It would be a full-time gig, but it wouldn’t require us to move. We felt blind-sided by the unexpected offer and quite frankly a little weary of what it would mean for our calling and dreams. Could we jump out of the boat of full-time ministry and support raising and still be faithful to what God had called us too? Was our identity being found in what we were doing for God? Could God use us and bring our dreams full circle but in an entirely different way then we imagined? Those questions were large in our hearts. In the end my husband took the job.

It’s now been a few months since my husband took the new job. It has been good and hard and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t love a regular paycheck with a bit extra to put in the bank. But the questions remain.

Just the other day I was chatting on the phone with a friend and I was reminded of the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the grave. Do you remember the story? Jesus hears that his friend Lazarus is deathly ill, but he drags his feet a day or two in making a visit to L’s bedside. By the time he arrives Lazarus is wrapped in grave clothes and stinking. Everyone looks incredulously at Jesus and says (to paraphrase) “Dude, if you’d hurried it along Lazarus wouldn’t be dead.” The Son of God stands in front of that grave and calls his buddies name and out pops Lazarus fresh as a daisy.

The Psalmist says, “God is in heaven He does all He pleases.” and when God was here on earth in Jesus He did all He pleased which rarely ever looked like what pleased the populace. I read the Lazarus story and I find myself getting a bit angry at Jesus. Why didn’t he come? Did he really need to show-off like that? Couldn’t he spare them the questions and the heartache of it all?

I read the story and I don’t know if the people lacked faith. I am inclined to think they really, truly believed in Jesus and all He said and was, but I think they still wanted to hold on to their own vision of how life and the story should go. I’m there. Lazarus’ friends are my people. I want all that Jesus has as long as it makes sense to me.

The last few years of the journey have been winding and uncertain. We’ve had moments where we’ve thought we were about to make it to our intended destination only to have a curve thrown in that created a detour far out of the way. I’m learning to say “Yes” to the detours.

I’m learning that nothing really is a mess. A puzzle dumped on the floor still amounts to a beautiful picture even if it doesn’t seem that way in the moment. There are a million metaphors for the way all the broken bits and pieces of life amount to something more than fragments with God.

I’m living right from the middle of all the questions. I don’t know that I’ll ever not be. What I do know is that His answers are greater and more abundant than the questions and His heart for me is a well of love deeper than I know.

How are you learning to say “Yes!” when life takes detours?

blackandwhitejessicaJessica Leigh Hoover is a wife, mama, writer and crazy Jesus followin’ grace lover. She lives in the hills of North Carolina but deals with some serious wanderlust which has taken her all over the globe. Her greatest loves are Jesus, family, chocolate, {hot or iced and always sweet} tea, vintage dresses, thrift stores, jam making {both fruit and songs apply here},sarcasm, British TV, wordy-nerdy books and heaps of good conversation. She blogs about her belief that grace is the biggest kind of brave and how life is messy and beautiful in the living, losing and loving. She is an (in)couragers group leader and a contributing author to Velvet Ashes an online community for women serving overseas. You can also find her loitering on both facebook and twitter.

Photo Credit: Michael W. May via Compfight cc

What We Need to Say to the Mean Girls

“I asked my friend if she would fold me a fortune teller out of paper like she did for the other girls,” my daughter told me after school.

“But she said she only makes them for her prettiest friends,” she said and her lip quivered.

That girl is not your friend, I whispered in her ear.

It’s my second time to have a second grade daughter and this isn’t our first rodeo with mean girls. But that doesn’t make it any easier.

I hugged my little girl and reminded her that not only was she beautiful on the outside, she was on the inside, too–where it really mattered.

“What did you say to her?” I asked, trying not to show my anger.

Nothing. She said. I turned away from her.

Sometimes the best thing to say to a mean girl is just that–Nothing. It speaks volumes.

whattosaytothemeangirls

Like most 7 year old girls, mine is obsessed with cheerleading, much to her older (band member) siblings dismay. “This will pass, right mom?”

She’s never been a cheerleader, never really performed a cheer, but that doesn’t stop her from joining the other second grade girls from cheering for the boys playing football at recess. We are the Texas stereotype down here. The struggle is real.

My daughter explains one of the girls who is a “real live cheerleader for her brother’s team” has put herself in charge. So naturally, she tells everyone what to do, where to stand, what to say. She’s the “Cheer Coach of the Second Grade” if you will.

On the playground, after this had been going on for a few days, a new girl wanted to join the “squad.” But the Coach wouldn’t let her “because she didn’t like the dress” the new girl was wearing.

It was at this point in the retelling of the story, I stopped my daughter, “What did you say about that?”

“Well, Mom, I felt bad for the new girl. She’s really nice and I liked her dress,” my daughter said. “And it made me sad when she sent her away.”

She finished her story, but I could tell we weren’t done.

Because sometimes the best thing we can say to a mean girl is stop.

“Honey, you know that yucky feeling you had when your “friend” said you weren’t pretty? It’s the exact same way the new girl felt when she was excluded. Here’s the thing about girls who are mean-they change the rules. What happens if you wear red tomorrow and she decides everyone wearing red can’t cheer? I think if you stand up for your new friend, you both might feel better.”

And I could tell by the look on her face, she was thinking hard about this. I knew she understand standing up for someone being targeted, might make you the target.

After school the next day over a snack, she said very nonchalantly, “Mom, it worked. The girl in charge changed her mind and now everyone gets to cheer.”

Moms, here’s where we get to teach our daughters and speak into their lives that we are sisters. We protect each other. We support one another. We turn away from the mean girls by saying nothing. And sometimes we tell them to stop making up their own rules because we won’t follow them. Because when we go along with something wrong, we aren’t helping. We can encourage our daughters to stand up for each other.

It didn’t take more than two weeks of school for my daughter to encounter her first mean girl. It happens. And maybe that little girl wasn’t even trying to be mean, but she was asserting control over others. You know what’s crazy? We’ve all seen it in grown up women and it’s just as ugly.

We can live by the same rules. The next time a friend  talks badly about another or excludes someone, we can do the same thing we want our girls to do.

Let’s Get Craftsy (Free Mini Classes)

I have a long history with my glue gun.

I’ve always loved arts and crafts and DIY projects. If you’ve been a long time reader, you know The Love. And all those years ago as I modgepodged my way thru nap time and crafted my way around the house, I had no idea I’d get to use my hobby to empower women around the globe.

On that first trip to Kenya more than four years ago, we taught young moms a few crafty projects and they are still filling up this shop with their creations.  When my niece taught me to loom knit over Christmas break last year, I had no idea a month later, I’d share what I learned with new refugee friends.

Kenya Craft Party, 2012

Kenya Craft Party, 2012

And now we are calling that global DIY party Fair Trade Friday.

I don’t have as much time to craft as I used to, but I do every chance I get. Plus, I’m always looking for new ideas to share with different artisan groups. I’ve learned a lot from Pinterest tutorials and online projects, but I wanted tell y’all about a fun site. I mentioned it several years ago, but it now has some FREE and fun options (I’ve included affiliate links below):

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Craftsy is a self-paced learning environment that hosts online classes to help you bring creativity to life by offering education, supplies and kits. We’ve found several crochet projects for our Friday Refugee classes and now Craftsy is offering 35 FREE mini Classes for you to attend! They are absolutely free and the variety is amazing. Here are a few:

        • Beautiful wirework jewelry
        • Amazing Crochet Textures
        • Professional Family Portraits
        • Perfect Pizza at Home
        • Sewing: Bag-Making Basics
        • Complete Knife Skills

Craftsy: Free Cake Decorating Classes

Here’s the full list of Craftsy free mini classes to choose from

Fun, huh? So, go check out the free mini classes.

Plus, Craftsy has their regular classes on sale at 50% off for a limited time. Check them out here!

You seriously have no idea where your hobby can lead you! Ask me.