Life with a Teenage Boy

I must start this post with a confession – my parenting thoughts were consumed with dread for the teenage years. I’m not sure if the dread came from society’s idea of teenagers, from my parent’s idea of teenagers, or from my own rebellion as a teenager, but wherever the idea came from, I was certain life with a teenager was destined to be disastrous. I feared the ugliness that I thought would come with a teenager.

Confession #2: When my husband and I got together a few years ago, and I thought of the future, I feared whether or not I would survive life with a teenage stepson. Sure, at 12/13, his boy seemed sweet enough, but teenage stepson’s spend every waking moment plotting how to wreck their stepmom’s life, don’t they?!

Let me tell you that my preconceived notions of what this 15-16-soon to be 17 journey would be were completely wrong. My stepson is an incredible young man. He his helpful, thoughtful, and respectful. Don’t think I’m trying to paint too rosy of a picture here – he has his moments where he questions what we say, and he has definitely been given the gift of sarcasm – in fact, if sarcasm qualified as a second language, he would be certifiably bilingual.

The biggest thing I have learned from our boy is to not take everything like a personal challenge. He questions a lot of things, and he has something to say nearly every time I open my mouth. If I let my feathers ruffle, and act like it’s a personal attack on who I am, how smart I am, or how adult I am, then our communication deteriorates and I get that look – you know the one, the one that makes me think he thinks I’m stupid. Truthfully, I think he’s thinking, “You’re not listening, AGAIN.” See, he’s on the cusp of adulthood, but the adults still feel like he’s a kid. Every mistake is scrutinized as a lack of maturity, but every mature act doesn’t quite measure up yet either – he could have done more, done better, tried harder.

Yuck.

I hated being that age and in that interim. The messages were conflicting, and the adults didn’t listen.

I try to listen. I fail daily. But when I say something and he has a thought, suggestion, idea, or comment, I try to remember a few things: he has a brain in his head, he has thoughts too, and he wants to be heard. I’ve also learned that if I let him share his thoughts, and offer responsive feedback, he is willing to listen when I put my foot down about something being “my way.”

He has incredible ideas – from things that make the mornings run smoother, to correcting his younger siblings, and even parenting through our blended situations. He doesn’t have all the experience in life that the adults have – and sometimes that shows through as a fresh pair of eyes with a brilliant idea, and sometimes he learns why an idea doesn’t/won’t work.

I am incredibly thankful for this journey and for learning how to do life with a teenager – and honestly, I look forward to the teen years with the younger kids more now than I ever did before.

I would love to know about your experiences raising a teenager (or teens). Share your story in the comments.

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The Wrong Wish

My precious girl has a head full of curls. Beautiful, bouncy curls that I just love to play with. She has a hard little noggin, so she doesn’t complain too much about the combing, brushing, or detangling.

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These curls. So precious.

Every time I brush her hair, I wonder how I can teach her to love her hair (and her other features). Too often, girls are so concerned about how they look, about being trendy enough, attractive enough, good enough. I struggle with feeling like I am not pretty, and I’d like to protect her from these feelings.

There isn’t something obvious from my past that I can pinpoint. Certainly my parents both told me I was pretty, or cute, or adorable, as a young girl. No one ever said I wasn’t pretty, but I struggle with it just the same. I know I’m not alone. Girls are always changing their hair, makeup and wardrobe trying to look just right.

I almost called my sister. She has curly hair (even curlier than Princess W’s hair). I was going to ask her what she thought could have been done, early in her life, to help her love her curls. She’s had a love/hate relationship with her curls for as long as I can remember.

But it hit me before I dialed, as I whispered a little prayer. I need to help her love Jesus. The more she experiences Jesus, the more she will accept how God made her. And the bible warns that worldly beauty fades (and the standards change all the time), but true beauty is more like a heart condition.

My new prayer is for myself, that I would focus more on my daughter’s heart and less on her curls, that I would lead her to love Jesus, and let His love consume her in ways that no amount of motherly, worldly, or self love ever could.

With ea h new revelation that i need to point my kids toward Jesus, I also recognize my growing need for Jesus, for His love, His forgiveness, and His acceptance. I cannot believe He was willing to die for my sins. I marvel that He is always with me, always guiding me. I am in awe that God picked me to be the mom of 4, stepmom of 2. I am humbled and overwhelmed and scared that I’m really messing up this big responsibility. I pray that He will fill in each gap I create, or miss, or overlook, or even ignore.

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Some Heros Don’t Wear Capes

Some heros don’t wear capes. In fact, heros are often overlooked because they work in the shadows, don’t require credit for their efforts, and are there when no one else is.

Heros come in all shapes and sizes. They are male and female, from any corner of the world. They are often nameless and faceless. Some are recognized by their job title, some by their uniform.

Often times, we mistake someone for being a hero because of their affluence – but I find that to be terrible hero criteria.

My hero wears reflective gear and rescues stranded motorists. My hero has grease on his hands and in his hair, but he doesn’t quit until the job is done. My hero spends his days and nights  working alongside a narrow white line to get others out of a bind.

My hero is too stubborn to give up, too brave to give in, too strong to cave under pressure.

I thank God for this man every single day. It is an honor to walk through life with him, to have him by my side, to conquer, struggle, fight, work, and live together as a team.

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Mr. W putting a tire on the Chevy rollback.

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