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.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Something that works really well for my daughter building trust in her life, is the visual of a HOUSE. A house starts from virtually nothing, there is land, and then through time it is built up. The foundation/land has to be good/safe/healthy/trustworthy, and there is more than one person building it. People work together to build a house, or any building for that matter. Over time, the house's completion can be beautiful! The transformation that takes place is amazing. But if, during the building process, there is a storm, or an accident, the process gets damaged, and it "falls behind". It loses "bricks". This is the analogy I've used with my daughter.

As she was and is growing up, and she would ask to do certain things, I'd always say, "Remember, you are building a house of bricks, and you want to keep adding, so your house turns out beautifully. But if you lose a brick or two, just know that the bricks equal trust, so the more bricks you add to your house, the more trust you earn."

I think that really helped her and I relationally. She'd do different things, like go to a concert with a friend when she was 13. We dropped them off and we stayed near by, but they went alone. She hadn't done anything at that point in her life for me not to trust her, so why should I say no? They had cell phones, and I was near by and it wasn't a concert where there would be drugs or anything. This was one of our first and biggest milestones! Anyway, it went great, and she definitely built trust that night, lots of bricks!

But there have been other times, over the last few years, where she would lose bricks. I am not much of a "rule" person, but one of my rules is no boys in the house when we are not home. Well, one night I came home and not only were there boys in the house but there was a hole in the wall in the basement, and a picture frame down in the entry way of our house! I was NOT happy.

But I didn't scream and yell. I mean she IS human, and she was in her TWEEN years, so she needed grace, and compassion but also need discipline and a punishment.
So I think finding the balance as I said earlier in one of my blogs, is that when your child misbehaves (or whatever you want to call it, I don't like the word disobey), our response MATTERS. What good would yelling at her do? Or making her feel bad, and putting her down, or being negative? I say if you think this might be your response (which according to my daughter's friends, is most parents responses), then COUNT TO 10! Cool down, and then approach her; get yourself together and zoom out, it isn't life or death here.

I ended up sternly asking her if she remembered the rule of no boys in the house when we are not home. I asked her then why she had them over anyway. I basically asked a lot of questions, and didn't accuse or assume, or insult. That can so easily happen, we can't let it. Our kids, good or bad, NEED US. There are constructive ways to discipline and handle misbehaving.

By asking her questions, this gave her a chance to have a voice and answer, instead of treating her like some object I'm trying to control. It's important our kids know that there is GRACE and that we all make mistakes, especially at the vulnerable ages of 12-16. They have to know they have a voice in this, we have to create a two way street, it takes two to tango! It's not about having power of these little humans, it's about walking along side them on their confusing journey. Does that make sense???

I obviously told her how disappointed I was, and that I was not happy with her, but that I forgave her, but reminded her that she's not building her house of trust by making these sort of decisions. I asked her, "Wouldn't you rather have more trust so you can do more things?" Her answer was YES, of course. She was grounded for a week, and it all blew over.

Through the last couple of years she has lost many bricks, but she's also GAINED a bunch too. Because she's built so many bricks of trust, she's able to do things that parents look at me like I'm nuts! But as long as she keeps building something trustworthy, she'll have more freedom, as long as what she wants to do is healthy, and safe, it's ok with me!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

You Can Relate

Sometimes it feels very difficult to relate to our ever changing children, but especially when they become teenagers. But one thing I learned early on was that my daughter was going through similar stuff I went through. As she went through issues or "drama" I tried to relate to her, not control her. The more I started showing her my support and compassionate ear, and shared some of my own stories, the more she felt it was safe to talk to me openly. Just like adults, teenagers have very specific needs and ways they would like the people in their life to behave. As wives, we desperately want our husbands to be what we need them to be! If they aren't, our defenses go up and we start "protecting our own". We start to shut down in many different forms if we aren't getting what we want or what we need from others.

Well with Teenagers, it's even more so.
They want to know we can be trusted, just as we want to trust them. If my daughter starts opening up early on, say around 12 years old, and early on my responses don't give her a reason to trust me, well then I don't blame her. I have to be able to handle what she shares by listening attentively (which takes time), not judging her, and not automatically try to tell her what to do. First I usually think about if there is a way I can relate to what she's sharing. And if there is, I'll share that. Usually she's pretty interested in the fact that I've gone through almost the same thing! It makes us parents not seem like such aliens to our kids.

This also usually opens up a pretty decent dialog and she'll start asking questions.
With this, it shows I am relate-able, and I'm not some far off distant clueless Mom.
To a point we want to be relevant. Not so much that we are forgetting discipline and all that. Don't get me wrong, I'm not sayin that. But we have got to show them that they can come to us, and that there is an OPEN DOOR POLICY. I make this very clear to my daughter and ALL her friends!

I think so much of the time Mothers are trying to be "right" and they are trying to BE THE PARENT so they come off as not approachable. It's all about being relational and being able to maintain a parental authority without being controlling, GOT THAT? Probably not, cuz I don't have it down yet either! Don't sweat it!

I am sure there are plenty of things that your daughter goes through that you have at one point in your life. Whether it was friend trouble, hurtful gossip, being teased, a broken heart from a boy, pressure from a boy, etc. the list goes on.
So recall back to those moments and what you did as a kid yourself and how you dealt with it and what you learned. This is a SURE way to get your teen to ENGAGE you!

And remember, this is her journey, think of what is the healthiest, most encouraging way to handle what she shares with you. You might not like what she has to say, but she's needs to know you have her back; and always, always STAY POSITIVE.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Don't Get Em' Hooked

One thing I was always careful with with my daughter was NAME BRANDS. It's such an easy trap to get into. I know it was easier for me not to go down that path with her from the beginning because being single, I couldn't afford name brands anyway, but for me, it's not about whether or not I could afford it.

It's all about the principal. I mean there IS something to be said for quality clothing, I get that. But when our kids grow so fast, until the age of 16, there is no real reason to go down the road of name brands.
I'm not trying to change anyone's mind or judge anyway if they do by name brands, I'm just trying to offer a healthy perspective.

The first lesson is that just because our child wants something, doesn't mean they should get it. Not everything they want is good for them, just like everything we want as adults, isn't good for us.

Each decision I make for my daughter, I try to make sure WHY I'm making the decision and HOW that decision could/would affect her.

I started out by literally telling my daughter that brands mean NOTHING. And that it didn't matter what the TAG in her Shirt or Jeans said. I told her how expensive name brands were, and that I didn't have the money for them, but even if I did, I didn't think it would be wise to buy them. It's so easy for these vulnerable girls to get wrapped up in this scene, and it can become a focus, it can become something that they get their worth from. It can be something that they are defined by.
I just spoke really positively about a variety of stores/brands.

What's interesting is that my Best Friend had sent Madelynn a Birthday gift, and one of the gifts was a COACH mirror, in a little case that had "C's" all over it for Coach. I caught myself starting to freak out! I'm like "This is so cool Madelynn, I wonder if it's real?" ha ha, I'm like, "It's gotta be." I was so into it! And I could not get a response from her!
And all calmly she's like "Mom, it doesn't matter, you're the one that taught me that name brands aren't a big deal."
Well, she told me!

What I realized is that there was a part of me that could go that direction, if I focused on it. And I also realized that I had taught her about the "dangers" of getting wrapped up in name brands so much, that she literally sees them as the same as a no name.

It was a very humbling experience for me, and it was cool to see my daughter so sure of what she was saying, and not to see her swayed by a WORD on an item.

If you take anything from this posting please take away that just because your daughter may want something, anything, whether it's an expensive dress for a formal dance, or a name brand purse or clothing, doesn't mean you should buy it. What good will she take away from always/often getting what she wants when it comes to materialism? I am not saying we can't splurge once in a while and that your daughter can't wear nice clothes etc. But I think we can teach our kids MORE and they will learn and grow BETTER if we limit all of it.

The earlier you can start the better, and remember you are the first and best role model for her, so look at your own life and what you are projecting.

Happy shopping!