Raising Baby Grown-Ups

Raising Baby Grown-Ups

As the mom of a baby, some days the teenage years (and stages without diapers) seem forever away. Other times I look at the high school boys that my husband coaches, and I see my baby grow into a full man in a matter of seconds. I can’t begin to imagine how fast these years are going to fly by, but I honestly can’t wait! I do not wish this phase to pass, but I also do not dread the teenage years like many parents – they are full of opportunity. If you are dreading the teenage years or are ankle deep in raising baby grown-ups, I hope you’ll indulge my new-mom-optimism and let me restore some hope.

I recently just finished Jen Hatmaker’s newest book Of Mess and Moxie. There are so many nuggets that could be pulled from this book, but I especially loved a chapter near the end called “String Eighteen Parties Together.” Jen is all about her teenagers and brings a perspective that is rare in this culture where teenagers are considered difficult, lazy, full of drama, and a parent’s worst nightmare.

As someone who works with teenagers and will someday raise teenagers, I probably highlighted half of this chapter, and it was full of wisdom in these areas:

Choosing to like teenagers – Jen simply states, “I planned on adoring the teen years, so I do.” If you are predisposed to hate the teen years, you are probably going to be miserable for a solid 5-8 years of your child’s life. But what if we chose to enjoy adolescence? Maybe you have littles like me, or maybe you are in the middle of teen years, or maybe you are looking back on the teen years with relief (or regret). Whatever your life stage, you can still choose to enjoy teenagers. In my experience, they are hilarious, honest, and full of energy. They may eat you out of house and home and fill your house with mud and stinky shoes, but there will also be moments where they send you a text that makes you laugh out loud, or make a decision that proves they’ve been listening this whole time. Choose right now, today, to enjoy the teenage years. Having the right attitude can make a huge difference in your own response.

Finding friends to walk the teen years with – Jen Hatmaker discusses the importance of having people around you who will not only encourage, but also help lighten you up and give perspective. We were all teenagers once. You probably drove your mom crazy, but it is so easy to forget that when you are staring a big teenage problem in the face. As she puts it, we need to “handle this stage with solidarity and grace, not shock and superiority.” If you are parenting without the help of friends, church, or community, then I encourage you to get some help! Life is so much better when you have people to laugh and cry with. Find people who are raising kids around the same age as you and cling to their support and similar experiences. Seek out those who have already raised teenagers and listen to their wisdom. Surround your teens with other people who don’t have teens but can be mentors, unbiased voices, and trusted confidants. It takes a village!

Remaining approachable and shock-proof – You have heard us say this before, but we have to be a safe place for teenagers! This requires us to be a place where they can ask questions and be honest without fear of our reactions. What they say is not a deal-breaker. The questions they ask cannot shake us. The things they admit do not change our feelings about them. This is so difficult but so important. If you freak out, cry, yell or react in a way that scares them, they won’t share with you again. Instead, make it known that you are there for them. Ask questions about tough topics so they know you won’t scare easily. It will probably be just as awkward for them as it is for you, but ask them about sex, parties, friends, doubts, fears and goals.

I will leave you with this last quote from her book that made me nod my head and write “Amen!” in the margins of my book:

When you have no earthly idea how to respond yet, just say: “Tell me more about that,” or “I’m listening and need a bit of time to think about this,” or “I’m glad you told me, and we will work this out together.” Keep it open, keep it mutual, stay on the same team instead of isolating your kid. Our teens need to know that we are for them and with them, not just when they are performing well but in struggle, failure, calamity. This is, after all, exactly how God loves us.

 

Keep up the good work, you are doing great work in the raising of teenagers. You are raising the future adults and parents of the world, and these years will pass in a flash! We are here with you, cheering you on and loving your teens. Have you found something else that has helped you raise teenagers? Share with us! 

Karlie Duke was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is our Communications Director. She is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories.
Teen Lifeline Summer Reading List

Teen Lifeline Summer Reading List

Summer is the perfect time to slow down and read a good book. Maybe you want to learn about something new, gain a new perspective or just need to laugh. As we get closer to the new school year, we hope that you’ll take advantage of the time you have left and stretch your mind! Below are a few of our book recommendations if you need a starting point.

For teenagers:

For Young Men Only by Jeff Feldhahn or For Young Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn

I actually read this book (the one for girls, obviously) when I was in High School. It is a light read but packed full of awesome and interesting information. Both of these books are written specifically for teenagers! Backed up with research and stories, this is a great resource for teens, especially as they begin to enter the dating world. They tackle questions like Why are boys so weird? Why can girls be so crazy sometimes? Why do boys want your respect more than your love? Why are good girls attracted to bad boys?

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

Disclaimer, this book releases on July 31, 2016 so I haven’t read this yet. However, it is a follow-up on the Harry Potter series, so it has to be good, right?! This “Script Book” follows Harry and his youngest son, Albus, as they try to overcome the past and the pressure of family legacy.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey

What if there was a roadmap for how to not only survive adolescence but to thrive? This book by Sean Covey offers tools and tricks specifically for teenagers. He covers topics like responsibility, prioritizing, peer pressure and how to handle parental relationships. It is crucial for teenagers to develop healthy habits now – don’t wait and check out this book!

 

For parents:

The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers: The Secret to Loving Teens Effectively by Gary Chapman

Do you feel like you just aren’t communicating well with your teenager? This adaptation of Dr. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, gives you the tools and resources to show love to your teenager in a way that best communicates to them! This book describes development, explains the teenage world and covers the 5 different love languages. Let’s learn to love teenagers more effectively!

For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker

Hands down, this is the best book I read this year. While I’m sure men would find this book witty and charming, this one is mainly for the ladies. Jen Hatmaker will make you laugh until you cry as she covers marriage, parenting and important topics like yoga pants and coffee. In a world full of Pinterest and Instagram parents, Jen encourages women to break free of shame and impossible standards.

For Parents Only: Getting Inside the Head of Your Kid  by Shaunti Feldhahn

Written by the same person who wrote For Young Men/Women Only, this book uses a survey and interviews with teens and tweens to discuss things that parents don’t always understand about their children. This short book will cover topics such as their need for freedom, how the boundaries parents set impact teens, how to get teens to open up and talk to you, and ways to help them feel more secure and confident.

 

For youth ministers:

Lead Small: Five Big Ideas Every Small Group Leader Need to Know by Reggie Joiner

I read this book last fall and absolutely loved it! This book is great for small group (or Teen Lifeline Support Group) principles. By leading small, youth ministers, volunteers and small group leaders can have a tangible impact on teenagers’ lives. By investing, you can have a greater and more long-term relationship. This small books is a quick-read and will equip you to lead great small groups in your youth ministry.

Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality by Wesley Hill

It is not a secret, homosexuality is a no longer a topic that can be ignored by the church. Wesley Hill uses personal experience and scripture to discuss the question, Is there a place for “celibate, gay christians in the church?” I have loved the perspective and heart behind this book. It is not a book of judgement or condemnation but offers a message of hope and grace.

 

Have you read any other books lately that you would like to recommend? Please let us know your book suggestions and thoughts after you read some from our list! 

Karlie Duke was in one of Teen Lifeline’s original support groups and now is our Communications Director. She is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories.