RAISE YOUR TEEN UP TO BE THE BEST PERSON THEY CAN BE

Live with intent, take time, have patience and gain a new perspective. See how having a relationship with your teen can change both of your lives. Say goodbye to status-quo.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Guest Post from Melissa!

Melissa from Blog Content Guild is Guest Posting today and I'm really honored that she is!
Here is her link.

Tips for Hosting Your Teen’s Birthday Party

You may recall when he or she was just a kid—all the birthday streamers, pointy hats, and goodie bags. If you want to save your teen from embarrassment, you’ll have to do away with the types of decorations you bought when they were little. Some traditions associated with birthday parties can stay. For example, if they like video games, they might like the idea of incorporating a few Mario Bros party supplies into the mix. Just don’t go overboard. And remember that some traditions should go. Keep reading for tips on how to make your teen’s party a memorable one.
  1. Do Away with Old Party D├ęcor


Ask your teen if they want a theme for their party. They will likely say no, but if they say yes, they may be referring to costumes. Decorations that come in party packs are “kid stuff,” so let them decide whether they want costumes or any specific type of decoration. Keep in mind that teenagers are fonder of decisions than surprises. They may want the interior of where the party is being hosted to look a certain way, or they may just want it to look neutral. Ask your teen for insight before setting plans in stone.


  1. Food is Always a Plus


One thing that is undeniable about teenagers is that they’re always hungry. Their metabolisms are working overtime! Ask your teen if they want pizza, chips, cake, or other snacks. Not only will food satisfy hungry friends, but it can also serve as a conversation piece or icebreaker during potentially awkward moments. A good way to keep things interesting is to keep food coming in waves. Start out with snacks, and then move to a more substantial meal, and then to dessert. That way they’ll have different foods to look forward to throughout the evening.


  1. Let Your Teen Create the Guest List


You may feel compelled to invite the neighbor’s teens or other teens you know. However, your teen may have a certain guest list in mind. He or she could be teased if certain people outside the normal social circle are invited. And, hold your breath—your teen may ask if you can “leave.” Doing so is not intended to hurt your feelings, but he/she is growing up and may want the opportunity to be an individual and socialize without your guidance. Of course, this decision is up to you, but your teen is likely reaching an age where privacy is important.



Asking your teen about his/her party preferences is an essential part of the planning. If the both of you work together, the party will be a success!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Junior Mint!

This is my Junior Mint! 
Isn't she a DOLL!? She started her Junior year yesterday,
and it went very smoothly. Even the whole lunch table thing worked
out JUST FINE. I must admit though it's difficult for me that things aren't 
as sentimental as they once were. I mean I'm a Mother of a 16 year old
with no other children, so I am typically sleeping now when she gets up 
and off for school. And her first day was no different. I felt guilty about it 
for like a second, because she rushed off anyway, 
"Bye Mommy, I love you, have a good day...."
and then she was gone! 
Usually we'd have breakfast together, and I'd take a few pictures, 
but things change I tell ya. And that isn't necessarily a bad thing--even though I've been feeling like it is.
It's just as simple as times change.
She is changing. 
Traditions change. 
Yes we made cinnamon rolls every morning the first day of school
since she was 4, but I guess it's different now.
Her boyfriend is picking her up and dropping her off and she's not
fussing over the" first day of school outfit". 
So I'll embrace these changes. I'll appreciate the new ones.
I'm thankful that she's a 16 year old that still shares how her day was with me, and that
she kisses me good bye every morning. 
I will choose to treasure that even though the other things missing are a loss for me.
I'm glad I have that choice.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lunch Table

It was so interesting for me to listen to my daughter tonight. We went out to our favorite pizza place
as a toast to her starting her Junior year tomorrow.

As we started on our conversations during dinner, the "lunch table" got brought up. She randomly and surprisingly started sharing about how the lunch table is the most dreadful period. She assured me that it gets better sooner than later at least with time, but when it comes
to the first day of school, or even the first week, she absolutely hates it. I was so intrigued.

I asked her why in a surprising voice(I honestly didn't think kids this old still had issues with the "lunch table"). I mean I remember when I was that age with lunch time and how much I detested having to think about it, let alone figure out who I was going to sit with or WHO was going to be in my lunch! Remember that!?


Madelynn continued to explain that yes, it's still the most dreadful thing in school, this time of year; for
such reasons as:


-not knowing who will be in your lunch period
-who will you sit by
-the fact that the infamous table you are heading for might get snatched from underneath you
-what do you do if you have a boyfriend in your same lunch? Meaning do you sit with HIM or your girlfriends?
-kids that are in your hour right before lunch automatically have lunch with you, but you
don't necessarily want to sit with them at the lunch table

These were concerns and worries that are so real to my precious 16 year old! I felt for her so much. I literally reverted back to when I felt those same feelings in High School, and remember how scary it felt...the dreaded "lunch table".

It was mostly interesting to me because my daughter is so confident, and she knew a few people that would be in her lunch hour because she knew her schedule for the hour before lunch. But she still felt scared, and was not looking forward to the unknown outcome. I was also surprised because even though she is getting older and is maturing, and even though she is a leader in school amongst her peers, she still struggles with insecurities such as the "lunch table"---a place where I wouldn't have expected her to even think twice about.

I encouraged her and told her to stick to who she knows will be in her lunch, to plan ahead--
and for maybe one or two of them to go grab a table ahead of time, to at least secure a table,
and that the rest will come naturally. I told her it might be up in the air for the first few days,
but that if she approaches it with a positive attitude and confidence, and with a little team work,
then all would work out.

Here's my grown up little peanut eating some pizza before school starts tomorrow:



















Thursday, September 1, 2011

She's Not My Friend


Spring Break 2010


Her Sweet 16 2011


After one of her plays in 2010


After one of her plays in 2009


A Fair in Michigan 2008


Streets of Milwaukee 2011


Mother's Day 2011


Michigan 2010


Streets of Hastings 2008


Vacation 2011


Family Reunion 2011

Ok, this isn't entirely true. But you'll see my point.

I'm an extremely reflective, authentic, intentional human being. I think we
were all created to be this way, but along the way nature/nurture messed
it up for us. Apparently not for me because I long for human connection,
I hunger for community and shared fellowship.

I have another blog called Contemplating Beauty, and over at that blog
I try to share with the world all that I think is beautiful. It could be from a
simple cup of coffee in the morning shared with a bird singing,
or it could be a smile from my teenager.
I find beauty in
ANYthing
and
EVERYthing. I can't help myself. It's how I see life and God's creation.

Something I've been reflecting on lately is how I've messed up quite a few times
when I've mistaken my daughter as my friend (and even her friends) as
my friend.
I can use the word "friend" loosely, and sure, my daughter is my friend
and her friends are my friends.
But she is not my friend first.

Of course the thought has occurred to me before, my daughter is 16, and
I am always hearing stories or being warned by people saying, (in a deeper voice)-
"Make sure you aren't friends with her first now ya hear, that's a mistake a lot
of parents are making these days, they want to be friends with their kids,
you have to be her disciplinary and her parent first."

For some reason when I was washing my hair tonight the thought again occurred to me--"Gee, I was trying to be her friend then" OR "Darn it, I shouldn't have shared THAT with her
that one time...."
It was highlighted to me the areas in where I did try to gain her friendship; such as
telling her about something in my marriage, or acting like I fit in with her friends by
jumping in on their conversations (
awkwarrrrrrd)!

I believe it comes down to the fact that because I am a reflective person and I want
to keep growing and never become complacent that I think on such things as this.
If something doesn't feel quite right in a situation, conversation or happening, I
always always look back on it, contemplate, if you will, and search for what made it
feel "off". I dig deeper in essence, so I can bring something better, new, more mature, or
possibly even beautiful next time around.
In all my interactions, not just with my teenager.

I believe it is our responsibility as human beings to reach for this. To be aware of
where there might be some chaos brewing, or where we are missing the mark and remedy it so we can be more whole
people for the ones we love.

My daughter doesn't need anymore friends, she's got plenty, and their her own age!

I need to resist those times that I want to share certain things with her, or be a part of
her conversations with her friends.
I know being a young Mom can contribute to
some of this confusion. It's easier to cross the line for both of us. Because she has to
remember too that I am not her friend (first).

Monday, August 15, 2011

Validation, Validation, Validation

Our kids need it. Us adults need it. It's Psychology 101.

VALIDATE:
to give official sanction, confirmation, or approval to move forward
authenticate, verify, heard

It's super simple:when our kids share how they FEEL, we listen
and make sure we let them know that we have heard them, and
that their feelings are OK and acceptable no matter what. Their gonna feel
a lot and they need OUR help in navigating through their feelings.

For instance if our kids share something that might offend us or hurt us--meaning
they share their feelings about something involving us-due to something we might have done, we need to accept that too. Even if they are wrong or off base, (we can get to that later), but
FIRST THINGS FIRST, validate how they feel.
They need this from us like we need AIR.

Our kids have to know that what they feel and think is OK and understandable.
This is why I am so passionate about viewing our kids as humans. Not just our children,
but HUMAN children, if that makes any sense, haha. They have feelings and emotions that stem from deeper issues, they make mistakes, they are flawed etc. etc. just like us.

If you ask a child how something makes them feel or what is wrong for example an event where someone teased them, or a teacher that was rude or short with them, OR you as a parent raising your voice or yelling at them during homework or because they didn't do all their chores. WHATEVER the case may be, it's vital, vital that they know it's OK how they feel about it. They may feel angry at you, frustrated by confusion, and sad due to being teased or misunderstood in some way. And it's important for them to share that with us.

VALIDATION EXAMPLES:

-What did I do to make you feel this way?
-I understand how that must make you feel.
-Do you feel this way every time ________?
-I am so sorry that you are feeling this way, it's OK though, I want to make it better.
-That must be scary, I didn't realize I was raising my voice so often, I will work on it.

NON-VALIDATING EXAMPLES:

-Don't be silly!
-That's ridiculous, don't feel that way.
-Oh forget about it, you're fine.
-Get over it.
-But, well, you see, because, etc. etc...

Our kids are most likely not going to come to us, at least in the earlier years, so we have got to make a point to ask them if we sense chaos in our relationship. I mean our kids' brains aren't fully developed until they are 26 years old or something crazy like that--so they can't grasp concepts that we can as adults. We need to remember that.

If we don't remember to use validation--our kids will shut down. I mean think about our marriages. Can you imagine if we didn't validate our spouses feelings? If we just steam rolled(by this I mean ignoring or discounting, debating) right over their feelings without recognizing them, or labeling them as important?
You can disagree with your partner or kid all you want, but you still need to validate how they feel. Because that's just it, it's how THEY feel, not how YOU feel. You'll get your turn.

We will do so much good for our kids if we validate their feelings. They will gain confidence, and have a good self esteem, because they will feel good about being a people in this world by knowing that what they feel is normal, and valid. It might not always be what's REAL, but they will learn that eventually. For now, they just need to know it's OK. They need to know we hear them, and that we want to help offer solutions for what they are feeling.

They will eventually most likely share more of who they are without fear. And they will live what they learn, so they will validate important people in their life. How cool is that?!



Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Remember, You've Been There

I promise you can relate to your teenager.

Just think.

If they share with you an issue that is going on in their life, you've got to
embrace it.
I'm tellin you, no matter how embarrassing it feels or how uncomfortable you get,
and no matter how inclined you are to want to bolt, just stay. Breathe.

I had one of these moments yesterday with my daughter. I won't get into detail but I can tell you I wanted to FLEE.
BUT, I quickly remembered that she is opening up to me, and that is to be cherished and I didn't want to ruin the moment.

It was one of those topics that you'd prefer to avoid, but you know you can't as a parent.
So I used the tactic of going back in my brain to when I was her age, and how I went through something similar. It saved the moment! I retreated back to a time when I felt the way she did and when I had done something similar, and instead of being judgmental and controlling, I told her that I had been there, and that I understood. I was able to "go back in time" quickly enough to help her.

In remembering that I had been there too, I could offer advice and insight that I otherwise wouldn't have been able to. Knowing that I had been through something so similar made me normal. It showed her what I had learned from the situation. She was so super grateful for the new perspective I could give her. Because that is,
after all, mostly what our kids need, new perspectives. (I'll be blogging on this soon)

I know there are times when you feel like you can't relate to your teenager, but I submit to you that you CAN. It's just a matter of us going back in time, and remembering that you've probably felt, done, and seen all or more of what they have-
-so tap into that, take advantage of that, make that work in your favor, so in turn it works in their favor.

It's a win win for both of you. You will have kept your cool as a parent, yet guided and helped your kid--and they will have learned to trust you just a bit more and more than likely come back to you for more insight.


Our teenagers are not aliens like most people think. I mean, honestly I think teenagers get a bad rap.
Just be REAL. Be HONEST. Be PATIENT. Be UNDERSTANDING. LISTEN. RELATE. RESPOND, DON'T REACT.

You've been their age before so how can you
not relate? Find a way. Our kids need us to get on their level; we need to gain their trust, it's not just us needing to gain their trust.

So take a trip down memory lane, and find a way to connect with your kid.
And remember--you've been there.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Share 2 Things

Sometimes there can be awkward silences or even a lull in conversation when it comes to us and our teenagers.

When this happens I use this slick trick called "share 2 things". I'll ask my daughter when there doesn't seem to be much to talk about at the time, or if she's being quiet for longer periods of time than normal:

Share 1 thing with me in your mind and
share 1 thing with me in your heart.

She seemed to dig the idea, and it was an easy way for her to open up, which led to conversation and relationship building. It gave me more insight, and it showed her that I am continually interested and open to chatting, and that I care about what's going on in that mind and heart of hers.

She was more than willing to share, and it was entertaining for me to see her have to think about what she was going to share!

This is something that could even be done daily and even with younger kids--try it and comment to let me know how it went.