How I Mom:: Celeste {Lifestyle Series}

How I Mom {Teen Edition}

How I Mom:: Celeste

“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”

-Mother Teresa

My kids are no longer small. If you’re reading this and your kids are littles, I hope this brings encouragement. And if you’re reading this and yours are in the same season (teens), perhaps you can relate. As my kids change, so does my role as a parent. They aren’t clingy, they act like they don’t need us as much, and they are becoming more self-sufficient. I adore my kids with all my heart and absolutely love my role as their mother.

A few of the perks of having teens is that they can feed themselves, wipe their own butts, sleep through the night, and for the most part, do all of their homework on their own! (#freedom) But don’t let this age of growing fool you or let you think your parenting job is done. They need us. There’s the obvious reasons… “Mom, can I have a ride…?” “Mom, can I have money for…” But then there’s the less obvious reasons.

They need our input & advice, they need our support and encouragement, they need a safe place to fail, they need us to be there when their heart is broken, and they need our presence, even when we’re not saying anything.

Some of my current parenting goals: (Let me say right from the start: These are NOT things I’ve mastered, but areas I want to get better at implementing!) To encourage them to live out their own faith in God, to help them master some practical life skills like cooking, laundry, handling money, etc., to teach them to drive, to steer them in the direction of their gifts, talents, and abilities, and for them to continue to cultivate a compassionate heart for others.

Our family has a different schedule than most. We run a non-profit out of our home. We live on a ranch and have a lot of animals. My kids are all old enough now to help as camp counselors every summer at the camps we run.

Hope is my artsy, super creative 16 (almost 17) year old. My son Noah, who is 14, is what I would call the well-mannered smart guy (valedictorian 2 years in a row) who always follows the rules and gets very upset when things aren’t fair. And my son Joel, who is 13, is my quiet guy who is also very smart (#2 in his class) who has this funny side to him that not a lot of people see, because he’s pretty shy and does not want a lot of attention on him. (He said he wanted to remain #2 in his class so the #1 guy had to give the speech at the end of the year, lol).  I can think of no greater gift than to be their mamma.

Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way….

  • Have Fun Together! Play family games- Designate one night a week as game night. No matter the age, game nights are the best! Some of our games are: Mexican Train, Catan, Continental, Hand and Foot, BS, and Speed. Do something different every now and then. Have you ever watched the cable tv series Chopped? It’s where the contestants use the food items in their baskets to make an appetizer, a main dish, and a dessert. My son loves to do a Chopped Challenge! It can be very messy. That’s okay! Give them a time limit and allow them to rummage through the pantry and make either an appetizer, breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert. This is a lot of fun. And then you and another family member or spouse can be the judges and taste their meal. Another fun thing we like to do together as a family is watch movies. I just love movie nights! It’s so fun just hanging out in my yoga pants, popping popcorn or making some sweet snack, and watching a movie together. One of our new traditions is having a movie day over Christmas Break. We pick a movie that has 3 or 4 movies in the series and then watch them all day long. We break for snacks, bathroom, and meals, but that’s it! Last Christmas we watched the Hunger Games Series. A few on our list are Lord of the Rings, The Narnia Series, and Star Wars. A family that plays together stays together!  
  • Watch Your Reactions. When your teen approaches you and says, “Can we talk?” know that they are trusting you with something important and sacred. There are many teens that are afraid to talk to their parents because they think they’ll get angry or freak out. Try to stay calm as opposed to reacting when they tell you something- even if you’re disappointed or upset. If you freak out every time they share something with you, the odds are as they get older, they’ll share less and less. Try to remain calm and hear them out before you say, “No way!” or “How could you?!” or “You can never hang out with that friend again!” Let them know that you really appreciate them sharing that thing with you. This builds trust. And go forward having a mature, calm discussion about the issue at hand.
  • Be a Good Listener. As your child gets older, the sobering realization that you won’t have them under your roof much longer can be eye opening. Make the most of your time with your teen. Put yourself in a position where they know they can talk to you. Don’t always be so distracted with your phone or computer when you are hanging out that they feel like you’re always too busy for them.  Maybe invite them to cook with you, and allow them to share openly about whatever. Ask questions. Let your child know that what they have to say matters and that it’s important to you. Listen without always trying to solve everything. This lets them know that they can talk to you and that you’ll be there for them to lend a listening ear.
  • Don’t Always Be in Such a Hurry. One of the things I regret from when they were little was always feeling like we were so rushed. One the sayings I had to work on NOT saying was, “Hurry up, we’re late.” And perhaps acting like a mad woman if we were really late. It was very stressful. As they’ve gotten older I enjoy a slower pace with them. Not everything is an emergency. And if we’re running late, then we’re running late. I will say this, leaving the house definitely gets easier as they older. The only downside is I can’t blame my kids now every time we are late for something!
  • Be the Example. Don’t just say what to do or what not do- model it; live it. If I want my kids to pick up after themselves, then I need to be doing it as well. If I want them to read their Bible, they should see me reading mine. If I expect a clean room, my room should be clean first. I’m not saying perfect- we will never attain parenting perfection (doesn’t exist), but we can be intentional so that they see it in us first and want to model some of these habits. If we want them to have a good work ethic, then let us model what a good work ethic looks like. If we want them to love and serve others, may they see us loving and serving others. If we tell our teens not to speed when they’re learning to drive, yet we speed, they’re likely to model what they see, not what we’ve said. Again, not walking around on egg shells, but just being more aware and intentional because we all know that even from the youngest age, they copy what mom and dad do (good and bad habits).
  • Unconditional Love. Remind them that you love them, even if they do or say something that frustrates you. Remind them that your love for them is not based on their actions, but because they’re your kid. Sometimes they’re not going to want to go into the extra-curricular activity or sport you think they should- remind them that you love them regardless of their involvement in those things. Sometimes they’ll bring home a report card that is disappointing- let them know you believe in them and you want to help them do better, but that your love for them is not based on their grades. Teens need to know that they are loved just for who they are, regardless of their performance or accolades.
  • Create a Peaceful Home Environment. When I was a kid/teen I had trouble concentrating in school because there was always so much drama between my mom and my step-dad at home. I didn’t have a peaceful environment to come home to and focus on my homework. It was not a place of rest. Now as a mom myself, I love having a peaceful place for them to come home to everyday from school, have an after-school snack, and focus on their studies. I feel blessed to be able to give this to them. There is so much peer-pressure, stress, exams, tests, drama, and responsibilities throughout their week. It brings me joy that our home is a safe and quiet environment for them to learn, rest, relax, where they can focus.
  • Don’t Major on the Minor. You’ve heard the saying, “Choose your battles”. When you have a teenager, there are going to be minor things that they say or do that we don’t necessarily agree with, and that might just be them finding themselves and figuring out who they are. If it’s not major stuff, don’t make it major. Don’t make everything such a huge issue (Sometimes if we push, you’ll notice they’ll push in the opposite direction). Sometimes we feel out of control and worry they’ll go off on the deep end if we’re not controlling every aspect of their lives. We might even find that they think differently than us or have different opinions {gasp}. It’s our job to guide them, give them good advice, and let them make some age appropriate decisions on their own. Part of raising them up is preparing them to make their own decisions, and if we’ve given them advice and they choose otherwise, we have to let them see for themselves the results of their choices. (And know that I’m talking about minor stuff- but obviously there’s going to be life-altering MAJOR decisions that we do (and should) assert our voice and parental rights towards.)
  • Be their Biggest Cheerleader. Our kids/teens need to know, at the end of the day, that we’ve got their back. I love this role of supporting my teen with their gifts, talents, and dreams. I love watching them grow, excel, learn, and just blossom. I try to go to all of their events as much as possible, whether it’s cross-country, or chess, or meetings. For my daughter, I love to see her crafty-artsy side as she designs jewelry and excels in her love for graphic design. I want them to always know that their mamma is their biggest fan!

I wrote this in December on Instagram and I wanted to share it here:

How I Mom:: Celeste  How I Mom:: Celeste


**Disclaimer** Before you go and think my life is perfect and I have it all figured out, let me assure you, I do not. I will be the first to admit the boys probably spend too much time playing video games and not enough time outside, I haven’t given them the chores they need to be doing at this age, and I do a lot for them, probably too much. But as they’re growing, so am I. #grace

With that said, people used to warn me about how hard these teen years would be. I have to say, I’m quite enjoying these years. It’s more mental and emotional than physical. We can talk about stuff, tell cheesy jokes, laugh, go to coffee, watch movies, and relate on a different level than when they were little. It feels like the years are flying by, but I’m just trying to be in moment and enjoy the gift of today.

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as she takes over our Instagram feed for the day!

 

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One Response to How I Mom:: Celeste {Lifestyle Series}

  1. Brian Schalk April 2, 2017 at 11:26 am #

    Celeste,

    This is an excellent article!! Of the thousands of books on parenting, I’m sure this sums up what many of them have to say, but in a very succinct way.

    In the first paragraph you mention “role as a parent”. I look forward to when you write the follow-up article ten years from now as your role changes when your children are moved out and possibly married. I’m confident you will have good insight. At this time in my life, I still think through the list of “they need…”.

    You are very wise to distinguish each one by their own unique God-given gifts, talents, and abilities. “Hope is…Noah is…Joel is…”. I’m sure it will be a blessing for y’all to see them continue to develop in each of those areas and use their gifts for God’s glory.

    I’ll never forget the first time of meeting your whole family, including Sam. Y’all are a special group of people! May God continue to bless you and your ministry!!

    Brian

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