Heeeeyyy I’m not going to talk about being sad. Let’s talk about parenting instead. Which makes us cry lots too.
So, I have standing advice gems I give new moms. (ONLY WHEN ASKED, OBVS). Now that we are entering into a very different season with teenagers, I’ve discovered a new gem and the absolute number one rule you must obey no matter what.
Parenting Hacks For Teens
Poker. Face. No matter what they say, do, or ask. (I know you are hearing that in Lady Gaga’s voice circa 2008 – you’re welcome.) Seriously. Don’t. Move. A. Muscle. Not a twitch, a breath, a teeth grind, even a slow blink.
Listen, I’m not gonna lie, the oldest has dropped enough doozies in my lap that I’m comfortable taking this act to Vegas. (Her brother is close on her heels).
- Internally screaming? Poker. Face.
- Trying not to giggle? Poker. Face.
- Completely flustered and desperately grasping at what to say next? Poker. Face. (That’s always a good time to ask a question to give you time to recover).
How To Respond
Try these on for size.
“Okay. That’s interesting. How do you feel about it? What would you like to know? I’m glad you feel like you can talk to me about this. Have you thought about how neck tattoos will affect future employment opportunities.” (For the record, I’ve said ALL those things.).
Our children need to know we are a safe place. If it’s hard, that’s okay, we will talk it out. If it’s information you need, I’ll never lie. If you did something wrong, we will face the consequences together.
When I reign in my emotions, I can see theirs more clearly, and respond appropriately, without disappointment, shame, anger, or embarrassment, on my part or theirs. It helps to have a general parenting philosophy in place. Plan ahead for certain topics. Talk about hard things preemptively, normalize communication, name feelings, and be trustworthy. Do I cry later? Sometimes. Do I reach out to my mom network to see if I handled it right? Absolutely. Do I call my lifelines for advice? All the time. (Always with my kiddos’ permission. Obvs.)
I know I’m at the cusp of this journey as a mom of teenagers, and I know parents can check all the boxes, and kiddos still struggle. I don’t have many concrete answers (really only one so far) and I know we still have a long road ahead of us with lots of twists and turns. I’m not naive about that, so I’ll take every moment I can get with these crazies baring their feelings. Even if I’m internally screaming.
For New Moms
Also, the standing advice for the new moms, since I brought it up:
- Don’t listen to all the advice. Take all the well-meaning comments you get with a grain of salt. Sift through with discernment based on what works for your family, your lifestyle, and your faith. Read the books, take what works, toss the rest. And plot twist-what works for kid number one may not work for kid number two. Get ready to pivot.
- On that note, trust your mom sense. You know your child better than anyone else. I had a pediatrician say that to me after three weird weeks of a “stomach virus” that turned out to be abdominal migraines. You are your child’s best advocate, lean into that role. One time, I discovered a kid had a raging double ear infection and the only symptom was her not being able to hear me well and saying “what” over and over again. It just seemed so off, and not motivated by disobedience, that I took her in. Turns out her ear infections come on quick and don’t hurt ’til they are about to burst. Other times I tell the doctor the visit is more for my peace of mind than anything else. I’ve been right more than I’ve been wrong though, soooo who is winning here? This girl. Trust your mom sense.
Back to this eldest child of mine. (And me with her a whole 15 years ago)! The truth is, she takes my breath away, even after all the bumps in the road. I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it now and forever, this child has an intuitive knowledge of deep, aching hurt in others, and how to walk beside them through the valleys.
She sees the marginal among us, the fringes, and she loves them, she remembers them with an ease that comes from believing them beautiful always. Her talent is a rare treasure in this world and maybe positioned a little closer to the cross, nestled there with a High Priest who suffered with us, and for us. Plus, she’s really good at makeup.
She’s creative, chaotic, and kind. It’s my greatest joy to be her mother. So I’ll take the hits with a poker face and dig in beside her, ever and always a safe place for her to land.
With love always.
(If you’ve read this before, it started as an Instagram post but I’m recording it here for posterity.