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.

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
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 (

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.

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.


-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.


-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.

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.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

3 Steps Toward Respect

1. GIVE your teenager reasons: You don't have to have a long list of reasons as to why you say no to something they want or ask for. But I think it's a bad, actually lazy habit to get into to NOT give them a reason. I mean there is a reason you are are saying no after all, right? Any person can say, "Because I said so, I'm the parent, that's good enough." Why not shoot for something that will work better and be more loving? Show your kid that they are worth it.
It's a step toward respect if you can take just literally an extra minute or two to give them a good reason. They will appreciate it. And not only will you be respecting them to care enough to give them a good reason, but they will respect you--AHH BONUS!

2. Ask them questions: By this I mean, don't assume. If you are in a situation with your teen where they did something wrong, or even if you think they are hiding something--go ahead and ask them. Inquire about their lives in a non accusatory way. I've caught myself plenty of times coming across to my daughter that I know what she did, or I assume why she did it. When I find myself in a situation with her where I'm disappointed or suspicious I've learned to ask questions. That way it's more of a two way street and I'm not just shootin off my mouth trying to control a situation that might not even be a reality. I've found most times than not that when I do ask her about stuff, she appreciates it, and will answer. It shows her I respect her because I'm addressing an issue without assuming or judging.

3. Give them a voice: I believe our kids want to be heard. And in a desperate way. They have got to have an outlet--a place they can share what they are feeling. Being a teen is so difficult because of the emotions that are so rampant in their lives. I remember them very clearly even as an adult now. We can respect our kids by giving them a voice in many different situations: if they get in trouble, we need to let them share about their thought process a bit, or when they get frustrated or annoyed with us, we need to let them say why. We need to hear them out if they feel that something we do is unfair, rude, or embarrassing. This creates a mutual respect because it gives them a chance to experience us as human beings, not just parents. It helps anyone to be able to speak up and work through feelings, doesn't it? Listen to what they have to say.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Mutual Respect

One way I've always viewed parenting is through the eyes of mutual respect.

It seems to me there is a lot of "power over"controlling behaviors, and less RESPECT when it comes to parent/child relationship. Almost like an authority type relationship. You might be thinking, "WELL YA, I do have authority over my child, I am the adult here!"

And that is obviously true. But that is not ALL there is, right?

I've always looked at my daughter as an equal human being. I've tried to keep my perspective of not only for her to respect me, but me to respect her.

As parents we want to raise our kids to be wonderful well rounded people.
And we do that the best we know how. We do that with what and where we are at the time in our lives. We raise them based on our upbringing, our experiences, and beliefs, and how we visualize what we want their future to hold.

One of the best ways I can think of accomplishing that is to treat your child with the same respect we would like. The fact is we ARE older than our children, and that we do have authority over them. That is not what I'm arguing. But I think when we can see our children as imperfect humans, and ourselves for that matter as flawed humans, we'll get a lot further in relationship with our kids.

I don't agree with the view that it's all only about kids needing to respect their parents.
I think WE need to respect our KIDS too. It goes both ways. We need to create a mutual respect.

It seems to me there ends up being so many road blocks for parents who don't have this view. Kids don't want to share with their parents when they feel threatened or fear; so they'll hide, lie, they don't enjoy talking to their parents, and they push their parents away.

Do you think some of this could be because of the respect we demand? And all the while we are busy demanding respect, we lose insight on our kids hearts?
I mean does anyone really get respect who demands it or thinks they deserve it?

We've got to get busy respecting our kids, and building harmony with them.
This doesn't mean that we aren't "in charge" it just means we are in charge AND we are respecting them. Treating them not only as a child that we are raising and guiding, but also as an important human being that needs to be heard, validated, and encouraged-no matter what.
It means we are "in charge" AND we are
disciplining them. It means we are in charge and we are talking with them through conflict and giving them a voice.

It means we are in charge AND showing grace when they mess up. It means we are in charge AND we are patient with them. It means we are in charge AND give them their freedoms. It means we are in charge, AND give them advice and guidance. It means we are in charge but we understand what they are going through because, hey-haven't we all been there?

We are entrusted with our kids and it's not only a blessing, it's a PRIVILEGE. I'm for one not going to go through each day thinking I am in control of my daughter, because no matter what I do, unless it's short of tying her up in her room until she's 18--it's NEVER gonna happen.

So I need to learn balance, and I think that starts with looking at her as an equal. I'm just a flawed human delighted to raise her up the best I can, and she's just a flawed human entrusted to me with no choice--wanting to be the best child she can be, because ya know what? Our kids look up to us. They need us. We need to give them a TENDER LOVE. Yes we do know what's best for them for sure, and as we start building more of this relationship, and WALKING through life with them, they will BELIEVE that we know what's best.

This balance may look different for each situation and each child, and I understand that. But I can honestly bet that if we all started looking and thinking about our child in terms of equality, they would come around in a heartbeat. When we have a controlling way about us, it pushes them away. If we have a tender heart, and invite them in as equal beings, they will run toward us. Which direction do you want your child to run in?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Unconditional Love

I thought of a "new" concept the other day when I was taking a walk to clear my head. The concept and saying itself isn't new, "Unconditional Love" but the way I wanted to address it, I think was newer.

I was feeling uneasy after a debacle my daughter and I had gone through the night before.
Last year I blogged about how sick she got from running herself ragged and how I recognized and learned as a Mother that part of that was my fault. I don't like to scapegoat in my life AT ALL, so I should say, it was my responsibility. I learned that I say no to a lot of certain things, but YES to quite a bit. One of the areas I say yes to a lot is to let my daughter go out a lot and do stuff, and be involved in school and activities. This girl is involved in dance, show choir, student council, student officers, drama club, church...I'm sure I've left out a few. Oh ya, band and choir.

Not only is she very involved but she lives life to the fullest, which is what I taught her. But she gives all of her self, %100 to everyone, even her teachers. That can be exhausting and with the combo of all of this, she crashed in the winter of 2010. She was diagnosed with Mono, and it went to her blood stream, so now she has Epstein Barr.

I give that background to say this: I am learning to say no more to "protect" her. She was gone in Michigan for 2 weeks, and toward the end of her trip, she got a high fever. It was able to resolve itself, but I know it was her body screaming at her to take a break. So I need to step up and be her advocate. I know I'm going to be her worst nightmare this summer, but it's because it's what's best for her. If it were up to her, she would not slow down. She's constantly on the go.

So I've started to implement this new advocacy over her, and it's not going horrible, but it's not quite going the best either. For instance, the other night after she had been resting and chillin most of the day, she got a phone call from a friend to see if she could go swimming for a few hours. This phone call came at like 8:30p at night, and I thought what was best for her was to just keep laying low because she had her best friend coming from St.Paul for a few days, and she'd be on the go. She was NOT happy with my decision.

Between the hours of 9pm and Midnight, she treated me completely differently. This was based on my NO to go swimming. I gave her my reasons, and she didn't agree, which is fine-that is her right, but my answer wasn't going to change.

This is something that is quite common between us. She will treat me differently based on my yes or no's if she can do something with her friends or not. I know what you are thinking, "This is common/typical teenage behavior" and I would agree with you--BUT why accept it? Why not think of a different/new way to deal with this? We all experience it as parents, and it's annoying and can actually be hurtful.

So I was thinking on my walk about the concept of unconditional love. When my daughter treats me different and acts the way she does when I say "no", she is loving me based on conditions, and that isn't right. I need to love her unconditionally and I do, (although if I am truthful, I could think of areas that I haven't)- but she also needs to love me unconditionally, which I know she does, but when it comes to this--she doesn't. She's putting a condition on me due to my answer.

I asked her today if she understood this concept and she said she did. She told me she had been thinking about it for a couple of days now too and felt bad the way she treated me.
My daughter Madelynn said that she thinks using and remembering this concept for these kind of situations could really help her!

I want to encourage all parents to know that we don't have to accept "typical teenage behavior"--yes we know it is inevitable, and it will be difficult--but we can view things in a new light, and try different concepts that can build and help our relationship with our teens.

Don't accept the status quo! I refuse to do that, and am making an effort-and it IS effort--to create peace, and resolve conflict and try new things.

I think unconditional love is a neat place to start. Ask you teenager to love YOU unconditionally and ask yourself if you are loving THEM unconditionally. Discover what that looks like together.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It’s Not Personal

One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn as a Mom is that it’s not personal. Meaning I can’t take things personal in regard to my teenager. A lot of what we go through with them will feel like its personal, or maybe I’m just more sensitive! I’ve come a long way with not taking things personal, but it still creeps in now and again—I’m only human, right?!

What I’ve seen is that our kids have there own issues too. For me to not take things personal, meaning that my daughter is doing something against me or because of me, I’ve had to separate the label of her being my child, and me being her Mother. It might sound odd or even crazy Ville, but honestly it has helped so much.

For me to detach from those roles, even if it’s just for minutes, it helps. I look at her as a human being. I view her as an individual apart from me, someone who is just a girl, trying to get through these trying years as a teen. If I view her in this way sometimes, it helps me see that she has her own struggles, and they really don’t have anything to do with me, but with her.

She went to Prom a few weeks ago, and we were doing pictures at her boyfriends home. When we arrived with my daughter, we were not greeted. Her boyfriends Mother didn’t say how beautiful she looked let alone Hello. For the next hour it was like an organized boot camp, and extremely uncomfortable. I was so taken off guard and so shocked at the way this woman behaved that it through me off my game. I spoke up and asked directly and politely when we were going to do photos with my daughter and her family. When I did that my daughter shushed me.

That kicked me in the gut. I felt at that moment that she was embarrassed of me. I noticed throughout this photo taking boot camp, that my daughter was very keen on what would come out of my mouth. Almost like she was watching me. I could feel the tension.

I felt awful, I was totally taking it personal. I felt like my daughter was against me and for her boyfriends Mother. I felt like she was choosing them! It was very difficult and painful to go through.

And we never know what is going to throw us off. I mean why would something like this throw me off? Why would it affect me? Why was I so hurt? I wasn’t even hurt by the other Mother, I was hurt by my daughter.

It took us a good week to iron this one out. But WE DID. With commitment and perseverance and TIME. It might be something a lot of people would just move on from and not get to the bottom of, but I refuse to accept that. I want to teach my daughter conflict management, and I can’t do that if we just move on or sweep it under the rug.

We knew there was a deeper issue here, and we got to the bottom of it together. She even said a few times, “Mom, I’m so tired of talking about this, we’ve been on it now for days, can we just let it go?”

My response was that, yes there is a time and place to let go, but if conflict hasn’t been resolved, or even in the midst of it being resolved you can take breaks, but until we are reconciled, it’s not time to let go.

We learned so much about the both of us—I learned again that it wasn’t personal-she wasn’t embarrassed of me, she wasn’t choosing them over me. I learned that my daughter is at the age where she can hurt me; whether intentionally or unintentionally. And that I need to learn how to handle it when she does.

My daughter learned that she cares too much about what others think. She’s known this for a while, but she put caring about what they think above recognizing that the whole family was uncomfortable and it was frustrating for us. I told her that all she had to do was come up to me quietly and say, “Mom, I know this is super annoying and frustrating, I’m with you, I hear you, but it’s almost over.” Something like that. But hey, she’s 16! A lot of adults don’t do that!

We both see new (and old) areas of our worse self that we need to work on and improve. We are both up for the challenge and together we are stronger for going through this rough patch!

Everyday I’m learning more and more that it’s not personal, my daughter is not just my baby girl, she is her own individual with her own struggles and short comings. It’s not about me most of the time, it’s about life and herself. But I had to make the time to see the truth of these things. I’m so thankful it wasn’t about me, because I have my own self to manage!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Paper Cut-outs and Expectations

I often have expectations for Mother's Day. Sort of like I do for my Birthday. It's the two days that I sort of technically "get away" with doing, well--NOTHING. It's the two days I have in mind where I AM SERVED. It's the two days where I don't have to wipe a counter top down, find lost items, feed the dogs, make a lunch, answer a ton of questions, figure out schedules, keep track of emails from school/activities, make decisions, and the list goes on.

It's the two days where I just AM. I kind of envision it where my house hold is revolving around ME, not the other

way around. Kind of like they are looking out for me. They are catering to me. And if I really want to be

fairytale-ish, it's the two days where I feel like a QUEEN. Or at least aspire to.

Through the years I've collected many of hand made plants that my daughter brought home from school only to die right away. I've got a drawer full of paper cards, and lots of "cut outs" as I like to refer to them as. Whether she's cut out a person shape, a flower or a number, I have it.

I have construction paper riddled with glue, glitter and gems. I have clay pots, wooden plaques, dried flowers, and heart felt hand-written notes.

In more recent years I've gotten store bought-en cards-- And this year, a store bought-en keys chain, which I LOVED. It's a dog house and it has a photo spot so I can insert Nells. I even got a box of my favorite candy, Charleston Chews!

I'd have to say as my daughter gets older, I really really miss the home-made crafted goodies. And I admit I sort of expected them, if I'm being completely honest. It's seems the enthusiasm fades on days such as this a bit as children get older.

I miss the running up and jumping on the bed with the glitter spilling everywhere. I miss the excitement of doing something special for "Mommy".

I found myself hung up on this throughout the day. And maybe it was just because my daughter forgot to get me a card? Maybe it's because I didn't get a card or gift from my Husband?

I don't know.

Maybe my hang ups are justified? Maybe I'm selfish? Maybe I'm sad and mourning that I have only ONE YEAR left for celebrating Mother's Day with my daughter under the age of ADULThood? Maybe I'm frustrated with their lack of effort?

Am I taken for granted? Do they not appreciate me?

Whether the answer is YES or NO, I am STILL A MOTHER. That is what hit me as I was wallowing in self pity late this afternoon.

My daughter LOVES me. She LOVES me. I AM a MOTHER. That is ENOUGH.

What makes and made my day SPECIAL, wasn't the hoopla that surrounds what Mother's Day is suppose to be

according to the media; what made it special is the fact, the one and only fact, that I am a Mother.

What made it special is that when my daughter, even thought knelt over with cramps, was doing the dishes when we arrived home from lunch with my family.

What made is meaningful beyond any Paper Card could, was that in the middle of doing dishes my daughter says to me, "Didn't you hear me?"

I said, "No, what?"

She says, "I cut my finger."

I said, "Oh you did, I didn't know."

She says, "Ya, I told you."

I said, "I must not have heard you honey I'm sorry, let me see--does it hurt? How did you do it?"

She said, "It was a knife. I told you and you didn't say anything, so I thought you didn't care."

I said, "Oh honey, I'm so sorry, you know that isn't true, ever."

She asks, "Can I have a hug?"

I said, with tear filled eyes, "What? Sure, of course."

She held ME for about 1 minute. 1 minute. My 16 year old held me.

THAT far out weighed ANY expectation I ever had. That is something you can't think up on your own or expect for the day.

Same with the way she held doors for me all day long, asked how I was doing all day long, wished me Happy Mother's Day about 10 times, telling me she loved me, going to church together and her being able to connect with me about something in the sermon that we had just talked about, and complimenting me throughout the day.

And the best part of the day? Her thanking me before bed for being her Mommy. Her thanking me for who I am and what I do for her. Her telling me she wants me to help her raise her kids someday. (LOL BTW)---that is being treated like a Queen.

I think this day far exceeded my expectations.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Classic!

5 Things I Taught My Daughter

Everyone is going to think I have a "thing" with the number 5 and I've only been blogging for less than a year! I swear I don't, it just has worked out that way.

I've had the discussion with other parents before about the important things personally to me that I've taught my daughter. Meaning, what have I wanted to instill in her and then see her come to blossom with in her life?

It also was brought up when I was at conferences and one of her Teachers asked me, "What did you do with her to make her such a great girl?"

Here's what I've come up with:

1. No complaining.
At a very young age, I would be really specific about not letting her complain (it must be a natural tendency because it seemed like she did it on her own LOL), for instance if it was a rainy day, I would say to her right away, "Just because it's raining doesn't mean it's not a good day. A rainy day is JUST has good as a sunny day."
It might seem like an odd thing to teach her, but it seemed like a great way to introduce her to not complaining; I figured if I started with something so basic like the weather, it would prepare her for more serious things in life that she would most definitely be complaining about. The weather was something basic I could start her with. And it worked, this girl rarely complains to this day! Trust me, we all need to vent and let me tell you, she has her moments!

2. No negative words.
I'm talking not even 'Idiot'. Not even 'Shut Up'! And 'Stupid'.
I mean to me, those words are just as negative as a swear word. They don't sound positive at all, and my goal is to bring her up as positive as possible, in a world that is so negative. I want her bringing good in the world. Being GOOD to people. And I think if everyone would admit it, they'd agree that those words do not sound positive and the people that are hearing those words being said to them? I can guarantee don't feel good about it. What is the point of these words?

3. Being a friend to all.
There is so much "outcast" stuff going on in schools and such that I thought this one was crucial to teach her. It also goes along with kindness. I want her to befriend and be kind to the disabled, different ethnicity's, and certain category groups (which is a pet peeve of mine by the way), such as 'nerds' 'jocks' 'emu' all of em'. I brought her up to tear down that wall of division, and told her no matter who she is good friends with or who she hangs around, that she needed to make an effort to be a friend to all her classmates.

4. Manners.
Being polite, in my opinion is one of the easiest things to teach a child. It has to come at an early age, as most of these 5 things do, but it is something that can be taught with consistence and persistence. Things as simple as "Please and Thank you", "You're Welcome", and asking. Asking is important because it shows healthy boundaries between the child and the parent. It shows that the child can't just do whatever, whenever.
It's so cool because manners sort of ends up turning into respect later in their life. I see now with my daughter being a Sophomore, that she is very respectful to her teachers and other adults.

5. Compassion.
Bringing our kids up to understand Empathy and Compassion is HUGE. Helping them see that everyone has a story, and that everyone suffers in their own way helps our kids to be more understanding when they otherwise might not be. It gives them a bigger picture into real life issues--a world bigger than their own. And it can soften their hearts.
Teaching her this and us living by example, can give our kids a new way to how they might think about others.
It also helps them realize that they need compassion too. And I think if we realize that we want and need compassion, then it's a little easier to give it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Relationship Means Relating

1. The condition or fact of being related; connection or association.
2. A particular type of connection existing between people related to or having dealings with each other.

This is what the actual definition of RELATIONSHIP means. If you look at the beginning of the word you see RELATE. I think parenting teens can be a lot simpler than we make it, so I wanted to blog about something that appears pretty basic and simple, but it's actually super challenging.
I'm not arguing that it can be very tough, especially with the hormone changes are kids are going through, but if we keep the focus on RELATIONSHIP I think it can make things a lot smoother.

Looking further into the knowledge of what relationship MEANS also helps.
For me, knowing the exact definitions of words has always helped me act on the words better. It's easier for me to know what to DO when I know what the word means exactly. Maybe that's the kind of learner I am, but I'm confident others could benefit from it too.

For example, most of us know what the word 'Relationship' means technically. But how are we handling the knowledge of the definition? I mean if I KNOW an apple has fiber and is good for my health with all its other benefits, am I just going to "sit" on that knowledge? Maybe. But I'd be much wiser to actually DO something about that knowledge.

I want to use the definition I have for relationship to my advantage and to help with my parenting. This means I have to be ACTIVE in responding to what I know the word MEANS. It might sound so elementary, but I'm telling you, it has helped me so much.

Just yesterday my daughter and I had a little argument when we were coming home from a family Easter gathering. She sighed out loud about a little disagreement my husband and I were having. I found it rude, and I took it VERY personal. I felt like over all I annoyed her, but in reality, she was annoyed at the back and forth between my husband and I. Which is valid, I totally understand that. But I couldn't shake the feelings that arose in me when she let out that sigh.

The three of us pulled in the driveway and we had plans to take the dogs for a walk. If I would have continued on based off of what I felt like doing, I wouldn't have said another word.
It's so common for people to think "Let's drop it", because they don't think they can resolve it or they don't "feel" like it because it takes work. But I have a different suggestion.
Sometimes it's best to leave well enough alone and revisit the issue later, that I can swallow, but leaving it alone and not reconciling it, I think is destructive to the soul and unhealthy.

So as we went on our walk, I continued with my daughter trying to find resolve. My Husband was very uncomfortable and wanted it to end like yesterday!
He kept asking us to drop it because he didn't want to ruin our walk. I understood his frustration, but I couldn't not be reconciled with my daughter, and I want her to learn that it's work to work through conflict and it takes effort, and it's inconvenient, and it's trying-but see, my point is that our relationship wouldn't be REAL if we didn't get to the bottom of what we were arguing about, (And there is a "bottom" to everything).
We'd go on with our day and a day would turn into a week and a week would turn into a month. By being persistent and asking her questions, and allowing her to ask me questions, it sort of pushed both of us to finding resolve. Not only do I need to relate to her, but she needs to relate to me! With a little time and a lot of effort, we WERE able to get to the bottom of it!

If we keep in relationship by relating to one another, we keep things authentic and we keep things real. But if we don't? We are just piling on unresolved issues and hurts. I'd rather be uncomfortable for let's say 15 or so minutes, and get to the bottom of things (the heart of the issue), than pretend or "think" I'm better off forgetting about it and at the surface things seem OK, but at the core, the issue is STILL there.

Maybe think about what relationship really MEANS; it's definition is its definition, you can't argue that. So then I encourage you, if you aren't already, to keep striving toward that. Get to the root issues of your conflict and misunderstandings.

It was painful to go through it yesterday with my daughter, but within the half hour, it was resolved and we BOTH were on the same page and we BOTH understood each other, and we BOTH were reconciled. THAT is worth the 30 minutes of frustration, anger, and discomfort any day.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

5 Things to Never Say to Your Child- REVISED!

I had such great feedback on this blog post, that I thought I would enhance the last article with some new additions, and further thoughts. Remember please that my articles are not intended to lead anyone to think that any one of us are “perfect” parents. That it’s a learning process for all of us, and just like we were children once, we know that our children will fall short, and as adults, we fall short too. My postings are intended to inspire, give fresh perspectives and offer ideas that one might not be implementing.

1. BECAUSE I SAID SO! I start with the question: How does this build relationship? One of my main focuses for writing is that I believe in building relationship with our children. Not just our friends, or spouses, but also our kids! I think the key to any relationship is being REAL, and being authentic. Being relational in a sense like, “How can you relate to this? Or “How can I relate to my child? And, “How does my child relate to me?” If we say to our kid “Because I said so!” I think we are building a controlling atmosphere.
So when we say, “Because I said so!” are we saying that because we are adults, so that means we are older than them, so no matter what, without reason or explanation we just shut them out, and use that line?
I am not saying our children need a 15 minute long reason why, or even a 5 minute explanation. I am just offering maybe showing our kids a little respect by giving them a legitimate reason, and if we aren’t, then maybe we need to ask ourselves if we even know why we are saying NO to something. By giving them a basic answer, it builds relationship because you are creating communication. By encouraging communication this gives our kids a sense of individuality, safety, and we are teaching them along the way how to be relational in life.
Let's be mature enough as parents and walk through issues with our kids. Let’s take the TIME to invest in small explanations as to why we came to make the decision for them that we did. We'll be earning trust and they won’t feel so inferior. Because a lot of times I think that is what can happen. Parents think that because they are older, more mature, and the parent, that the kid is inferior to them. We don’t want our teens to feel like they aren’t human. Meaning a lot of times the humanness of parent/child relationships gets lost because there are so many control issues going on. I think a lot of teens feel that their parents aren’t “Human” because they don’t take the time to relate with them. Maybe it’s been years since you were a teen, but I think most of us can look back and at least put ourselves in their shoes and realize that we’ve been there too. And that’s a really good place to start.

2. ACT YOUR AGE! or You're 5 years old, so act like it)! Don't you think if they could act their age, they would? They are clueless on how they ought to be acting, so it's our job to not just TELL them, but to show them, and to be a role model that inspires them. They will learn from us and by what we have to offer them to help them through life.
I know how tempting it can be, especially if we are in the bad habit of comparing our kids to other kids), to say to your kid, “You should know better to be acting like that. Act your age.” But hear me when I say this, that is extremely degrading. Anything less than positive,(except when you are punishing or disciplining, it might not seem positive), is belittling them. The number one issue that children of all ages deals with due to parenting is SHAME. It’s a deep rooted issue across the board. And it seeps like crazy into adulthood. When your child hears, “Act your age” they HEAR this: You are so bad, naughty, and I’m embarrassed of you. Shame on you for not knowing better. Shape up. Other kids are better than you. They HEAR: I am not accepted, I am shunned, I am not good enough.
It instantly shuts their spirit down, and unseen trauma is going on inside of them, but it is trauma that you will see later as they grow. If your child is misbehaving, or they do something out of the ordinary by being really naughty, maybe figure out the best way to discipline them, instead of using words that hurt. I do not for one second believe the old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That is the biggest lie in our society. Words stick. Words matter.

3. SHAME ON YOU! Again, creating shame for a child is devastating. It will block safety and trust. They have got to know that no matter WHAT they do that you love them and are there for them. They need a space where they can be open with us, and share. Shaming is condemning, and it's extremely unhealthy on so many levels. And like I said earlier, it STAYS with them. If our kids do something so unexpected, or awful, or “disgusting”, we have got to take a few deep breaths, or even 10 minutes to WAIT before we act. Because if we don’t, we will REact, instead of REspond.
I had an experience just a couple of weeks ago with my daughter. She’s 16 and she’s an amazing kid. Overall, I haven’t had too many devastating issues, other than “typical” arguments if that’s what you want to call them. Just things like hormone changes etc…nothing “out of the ordinary”.
There was an incident that I was alerted on a couple weeks ago, that my daughter was involved in, (I won’t give a lot of details, because those don’t really matter), and I followed up with my daughter to find out if it was true or not. And she opened up (I truly believe because I built the foundation and safety for her to feel she could do so), and was honest with me and said, YES. She took responsibility, and fessed up to it. Instantly I was “disgusted” and in shock. I couldn’t even look at her at first. I could feel my breathing getting heavier, and I was purposely not looking at her. Then I though to myself, “Gina, you write a blog, you’re not perfect, but you write a blog on teen parenting, what are you going to do now? Are you going to live up to your words and advice?”
So I took several minutes before I spoke, and my husband sort of filled the air space with just whatever. Finally, I forced myself to look her in the eyes, because I did not want to screw this up! And I said these exact words: “Honey, thank you so very much for being honest with me first of all. I know that you could have lied and you chose to be truthful and I appreciate it. I know that must have been difficult and scary. Secondly, I want you to know how very disappointed I am. I’m really disappointed that you made the decision that you did. And it’s not OK what you did. Do you realize this? Can I ask why?
And right now I don’t know exactly what I’ll do about responsibility on your part as far as “punishment”, but there will be one. And lastly, I want you to know how very much I love you. I’ve been there. I was 16 once and I remember making dumb choices, I understand what it’s like to be under pressure with a bunch of people, I get it. And I want you to know that no matter what you do or have done, I still love you so much, just the same. And I’m so very proud of you for being honest. I love you honey.”
And that was that until a couple days later and I “forced” her into a week of solitude; no friends, no phone.
So that is my story with direct relation to this very sensitive issue.

4. SHUT UP. Like I mentioned earlier, words matter. And anything less than positive, is going to affect our kids. Hey, as adults it would affect us if someone told us to Shut Up! At least I would be hurt! It’s so disrespectful and quite honestly, I think it’s a selfish thing to say.
There are a million different words in our English vocabulary that we can use to get this point across. Nough' said.

5.YOU KNOW BETTER! I get how this one might seem confusing, because a lot of times they might know better; BUT how will this build relationship? We know that they are going to do things that they know they shouldn't. But they don't really know the reason NOT TO DO IT—not completely anyway.
Like we know why it's not good for them, but they don't. So instead of saying the obvious, why not take it as an opportunity to ask them why they did it, and share with them why it wasn't the best choice for them to do it. Again, it's all about being relational, relating to them and with them.
By choosing this way of handling it, we won’t shut them down, and they won’t shut us out. They will see that we are approachable, and that no matter what they do we will love them, and accept them. I think we forget as parents that we are human too. We can apologize and seek forgiveness when we fall short as parents. I have been in the situation where my daughter has shown me GRACE, MERCY AND FORGIVENESS. Just because I’m the adult and I’m the parent, doesn’t mean I don’t and won’t mess up.
And the way for our kids to “know better” is to teach and show them. Not by TELLING them they ought to KNOW BETTER. And again, sometimes they know darn well what they are doing and they do “know better”, but by talking this way with them is condescending, it doesn’t build anything up, which is our goal with them.

This has been a great experience to write this blog. Thank you for taking the time to read, and for sharing it with others. I think might next article could be, TOP FIVE THINGS TO SAY TO YOUR CHILD!