What I’ve Learned about Parenting Teenagers Might Offend You

Part of parenting is giving these humans enough space to let them be their own people. It’s a delicate balance of guiding them, equipping them, teaching them social graces, and setting them free. I’ve always felt like it was an honor to be the one to guide these lives but I’ve never felt like I owned them. I’m still very much responsible for holding a position of authority in their life but I also respect their autonomy and personhood. This parenting philosophy has allowed me to learn as much from them during this time as they do from me.

Another of our children crossed over into “teenhood” this month. Thirteen always seems like a monumental year in the life of any child. Lots of parental commentary during the teen years will equate to telling you :”Parenting Teenagers Is the WORST”. I call B.S.

B.S. because unfortunately, Parents, it’s not them. It’s you.

I can say this with confidence because I have been the problem in the past. We’ve gone through the teen years with two children ( 1 boy, 1 girl) already and two more ( 1 boy, 1 girl) to go. I’ll be the first to admit we made mistakes during the first go around, plenty of them if we are being honest. Nobody really knows what to do with the first one, amiright??? We made fewer mistakes during the second attempt and our hopes are high for three and four that we continue to improve. This is not to say that we’ve mastered this teen parenting thing by any means. No, each teenager is their own unique enigma that you will have to figure out the key for.

Each child, and parent, will present their own set of strengths and strongholds. It’s kinda like the freakin’ hunger games, actually. Here’s the thing, teenagers aren’t actually awful. Teenagers are just trying to figure out life, just like you. They are being put into all new situations that they’ve never encountered before. The world is telling them to “grow up” and behave maturely. It’s throwing vocabulary and scenarios in front of them at a rapid pace, none of which they have been trained for, in fact most have been sheltered from any of this in their previous years. P.S. YOU did that.  I know it was in an effort to keep them safe of but you can’t expect them to just magically excel at something they haven’t been trained for.

Their physical bodies are growing like adults but they aren’t adults. Yet when they act like adults they are reminded that they are children, and when they act like children they face consequences for acting as such. Parents, WE are the ones getting it wrong.

Instead of frustration and disappointment, offer grace and patience. Over the next few years you and your children are going to make some mistakes. You might make a lot of them. It’s OK. Allow yourselves the grace to fail. You are all going to be OK. Fewer people are judging you than you think. The parents that have done this before know what you are going through. They are not judging you.  Honestly, anybody participating in parental judging is a jerk. Don’t be a jerk. Parenting is a tough gig no matter what stage you are in.

Toddler to Teenager

Good News! Do you remember the extreme amount of patience that the toddler stage required? THAT was your parental training for now. I tell you this not to worry you but to encourage you. You have already trained for this. You are going to experience some of that craziness again but you are both going to do better this time. Here’s why… Remember when your toddler was throwing a fit, screaming, crying, over who knows what insignificant thing back then? Remember that when they behaved irrationally and you knew it was because they were just hungry/tired/needed your sole attention? (pay attention here.) IT’S THE SAME THING NOW! Their behavior isn’t personal. So much of what’s wrong can be solved with good nutrition, a nap, and knowing that they can have your attention when they need it.

Parenting teenagers is a lot like parenting toddlers

You may not be changing diapers anymore but those same basic toddler issues are the root of a good deal of what is upsetting your teen as well. This is not the time to overlook those things.  Now, I do not approve of the hover-parent lifestyle. You’ve done that. We’ve all done that to one extent or another. Give them the space to put in motion what knowledge you’ve already given them. You tell them you trust them, prove it.  Equip your child to take ownership over their own sleep, nutrition, and attention needs. This may seem simple but it’s not. Teach them about the needed amount of protein in the body, why sugar causes emotional crashes, and how water can literally refresh their mind. Do it in a way that isn’t patronizing. Don’t be manipulating but allow it to be “their idea”. They want to make good choices but they are in the “I do it myself” stage again. Make it easy for them to grab high protein bars, nuts, fruits, healthy fats, or shakes instead of sugar to refuel. If they are going to be successful adults they are going to have to make these choices themselves.

Everyone needs a nap sometimes. Even you parents. If you feel like you might lash out, take a quick 10 min rest time before responding. Things will look different after you’ve slept.

Be the example of not being ruled by your emotions. I was terrified when I had daughters that they would be girls that made decisions led by how they felt. For the record, that’s a behavior that is not exclusive to one gender. This season of parenting is going to be scary. You both are going to be a little apprehensive about what happens next, day to day, minute to minute. Don’t make fear based rules for your children. Make smart ones. Trust your intuition.

Do not forsake a future relationship with your adult children for fear based rules today.

Be available for them. No matter how much you may think they don’t want you around ( they might even say it) they need you around. They need you more than ever. They need your approval, your reassurance and your unconditional love. They don’t need you because they aren’t capable, they need you as a safe space in the world. Every day they are encountering literally hundreds of people at their school just like them trying to figure out who they are. By pure percentages, they are sure to encounter people who have behaved poorly to them that day. They have to figure out how to respond. Some days they’ll get it right. Some days they’ll get it terribly wrong. All of that weighs on their mind and emotions.  Wait until they come to you to offer advice. When they come to you to talk, ask them if they just need a listening ear or if they want advice. Most often they don’t need you to fix it, they just need to get it out of their head and when they hear it all said out loud they have the solution.

Last piece of advice, over the next few years when these teens seems to have lost their minds, try to see back to the sweet tiny person you knew a decade or so ago and handle this person with the same amount of love and patience. Don’t scream back. Don’t allow these actions to determine your reaction or rattle your emotions. Just know that you are the perfect parent for this human in front of you and they are the perfect human for you.

You are both doing a great job and It really is going to be okay.

Back To School Car Care Kit for Your New Driver

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #1stImpressionsCount #CollectiveBias

Pencils, pens, graphing calculator, notebooks, flash drives, library card….. and change for parking?? Having two teen drivers in the house makes back to school shopping look a little different this year. We will still be shopping for just the right first day of school outfit to make a great first impression. We have also added a few more things to the list to help them be responsible with taking care of the car this year too.

While they focus on navigating the roads, my husband and I are exploring the most useful guidance we can offer them as they go into the world. Teaching them to maintain and care for their car was at the top of the list.

Back to school Car Care Kit Armor All Outlast

If you have teen drivers heading off to school this year, consider creating a Back to School Car Care Kit with useful supplies that help encourage a clean, organized car. I know studying for exams, dates, and jobs will weigh heavily on their schedule. My goal is to help our teen drivers create a weekly care care routine that can be accomplished in under 10-20 minutes.

Back to School Car Care Kit Checklist

Back To School Car Care Kit

While I was at Walmart this week shopping for the traditional school supplies, I stopped over in the automotive section picked up some great Armor All products to add to the kit.
Armor All Walmart

I also picked up a shower caddy ( just $1 !) to keep everything together & tidy. 
Armor All Back to School Car Care kit

Lastly, I added a few essentials in case of emergency. I included extra phone chargers for the car, a pre-paid gift card for gas emergencies, and a tire pressure gauge.
Back to School Car Kit

As our children grow and become more independent, my hope is that we have prepared them with all the tools necessary to be responsible and always make a great first impression. Since we are also teaching them to be financially responsible,  it was great to be able to use this coupon for $2.50 off our Armor All Outlast products.  You can get one too!

Sydney was pretty excited about the kit we created for her. She even did a run through with it immediately after we gave it to her. I think it really made her feel supported knowing we had thought of ways to help her manage her schedule and giving her the tools to do it on her own. On top of that we were all so impressed with how well the Armor All Outlast product worked to spiff up the vehicle. My husband even asked if I would make a kit for each car!

Armor All Outlast Teen Driver

To help you and your driver create the best Back to School Car Care Kit ever I want to share this awesome giveaway! One lucky person will win a $1000 gift card! 4 other winners will receive a $500 gift card. (Giveaway starts at 5:00pm EST on 8/7/2015) 
Armor All Outlast #1stImpressionsCount Sweepstakes

Keep up with all these great products and more on the Armor All website, Facebook, and twitter.

Do you have a favorite memory about your first car or a funny high school or college story about your car? I’d love to hear it! 


Growing Up Social Book Review and Giveaway!

Growing up Social giveaway

It’s no surprise to anyone when I say we are a VERY social family, both online and offline. We LOVE our social media. Both our careers depend on it. All of our kids do a majority of their homework online, communicate with other and teachers online. On busy weeks, I even order and have our groceries delivered through an online delivery service. It seems we’ve become quite accustomed to our online life. In fact, our younger children have never known life to be any different.

While our kids may not have ever known a life before screen time, most parents have. Teaching our children proper social skills both online and offline is new parenting territory. Navigating between face time and face to face time can be confusing for kids( and even some adults!). Anybody else need a little help with knowing how to model and teach this?

Don’t misunderstand I am not a technology hater by any stretch of the imagination. I’m all for utilizing technology to help us be more efficient and I love how it allows us to stay connected, even across the world. I just realize how easy it is to allow ourselves,  as well as our kids, to engage in mindless screen time.  I was excited to have the opportunity to review the book “Growing Up Social” by authors Gary Chapman and Arelene Pellicane recently.  Gary Chapman is the author of another one of my all time favorite books The 5 Love Languages, so I knew this would be an excellent book.

Growing Up Social

In Growing Up Social, Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane give parents the necessary tools to access the screen time in your home and make positive changes…starting today. Through stories, wit, and wisdom, you discover how to make sure your home doesn’t suffer from an over dependence on screens. You’ll also learn to teach the five A+ skills that every healthy child needs to master: affection, appreciation, anger management, apology, and attention.

•Equip your child to be relationally rich in a digital world
•Replace mindless screen time with meaningful family time
•Establish simple boundaries that make a huge difference
•Discover what’s working for families that have become screen savvy
•Learn healthy ways to occupy your child while you get things done

Equip your child to live with screen time, not for screen time. No phone, tablet, or gaming device can teach your child how to have healthy relationships the way a parent can.

About the authors:

gary chapman

Gary Chapman– author, speaker, and counselor—has a passion for people and for helping them form lasting relationships. He is the bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages series and the director of Marriage and Family Life Consultants, Inc. Gary travels the world presenting seminars, and his radio programs air on more than 400 stations. For more information, visit 5lovelanguages.com.

Arelene Pellicane

Arelene Pellicane– is a speaker and author of 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife and 31 Days to a Happy Husband. She has been featured on The Today Show, The 700 Club, and Family Life Today and formerly served as the associate producer for Turning Point Television with Dr. David Jeremiah. Arlene lives in Southern California with her husband, James, and their three children. Find out more at ArlenePellicane.com.

How many of you can relate??

Growing Up Social Book Giveaway!!

If this sounds like a book you would be interested in – today is your lucky day!! We are giving away a copy of “Growing Up Social” to one lucky reader enter below for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Just when you think your teenagers have given up on you…

Today the strangest thing happened. Our teenager complimented us to his friends.

No really.. I’ll say it again. Our teenager actually complimented his parents ( that’s us!) to his friends.

Just when you think your teenagers have given up on you…

Y’all it was the strangest thing. He called earlier in the afternoon to ask if a new friend could come over and hang out. That wasn’t the strange part. We always require our kids to give a courtesy call if they are bringing guests home. Of course, we agreed. (Parental sidenote: As long as a parent is home, ALWAYS say yes when teens ask to invite their friends over no matter how messy the house is – they don’t care –  and you will always want your kids to feel more comfortable in your house that outside your home. It’s the way life should be.)

So, I am in my room working and I hear our son giving the new kid the house tour. Always good to alert others where the fire exits, snacks and extra toilet paper are kept right? I always find it interesting the features of our home that the kids point out when they introduce our home. This time I chuckled a bit when the boys got to the laundry room and our son went into great detail concerning all the features of our fancy washer and dryer to his 15 yr old friend as if he would be regularly stopping by to do laundry. In his defense, my husband insisted on teaching him to do all his own laundry at the age of 12. It was a pretty awesome thing to have their dad teach them to do laundry.  Then, my heart melted a bit when he told his friend  how cool his mom’s job was and bragged on my job as a blogger. ( Thanks LG for the street cred!)

I totally played it cool and just kept typing in my room.

Later on I asked them if his friend would need a ride home and he asked if could stay for dinner. Again, we agreed. We  have an open dinner policy at our house too. Anyone who is around at dinnertime, gets fed. There are a few rules though. 1) All family and guests eat together at the table, even if we have to squeeze. There is always room for 1 more. 2) Everyone gives thanks for the evening meal. Attitude of gratitude y’all. 3) You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. There is only one meal and unless its your birthday, I don’t take requests. 4) When you are here, you are family.

Our kids all know the rules. They know not to be surprised when we tell corny jokes around the table or when we quiz their friends about the best/worst part of their day too( see rule #4). We are corny, crazy, and sometimes endearing bunch but we are always ourselves, however that appears to our newcomers.

As Randy & I were cleaning up from dinner and loading the dishwasher in the kitchen, we heard our oldest telling  some of our family journey of how we got to Austin. He was telling about how his dad and I started and ran our own company for several years and in his words “were successful” and how cool it all was to see his parents work so hard. Whhhhat?! Our teenager thought we were cool? He recognized our efforts AND he was telling his friends?!? What strange dimension have we entered where WE, the parents, were cool again?!?

Years of eye rolling, being told “things aren’t like when you were kids”, the like. Were we to think this season of life might be on its way out????

I’m not completely convinced but tonight we got a glimmer of the other side. It was nice.