Friday, August 30, 2013

Series: Raising Amazing Teenagers, Part 4

Today is my final post about teenagers. You can read the previous posts here, or click the button in the side bar. I have prayed these posts encouraged and hopefully helped someone who is discouraged as a parent.
The last point I have to make in this series is concerning sin and how we can treat their sin as a stage, hoping it will go away soon.

Sin is sin, no matter what stage you’re in.

We understand kids will go through stages in their growth and maturity.  It is a natural progression. But if my 10 year, who normally is a very sweet and kind child, talks back to me rudely & disrespectfully I don’t chalk it up to a new stage that will soon pass (even though that is probably part of it).

We deal with it.     We correct it.       We don’t let it go. 
I have had moms tell me they can’t wait for their kids to get out of a certain stage so they will become sweet again.  I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but that isn’t how it works, Mom.  Don’t use stages as an excuse to allow bad behavior. 

Treat it as it is; sin.  Treat it with grace, mercy & great amounts of forgiveness . 

Your child may not even realize they are doing it at first.  But don’t let it go.  
When my 13 year old son began acting out in a way that was unusual to his personality, at first I didn’t even realize it until my older daughter pointed it out.  Mom, why are you letting him talk to you like that?” It wasn’t until she said something did I realize my son was being very disrespectful. 

I had a talk with him and asked him if he realized how he was responding to me.  He didn’t.  He promised to be more aware.  But, he continued to react rudely to me and others.  We had to talk several time and he lost many privileges until he finally got it.  One day I noticed it had been a while since he had been rude to me.  He had been his normal loving, cooperative self.  I mentioned it to him and he smiled, “I’m glad you noticed. I’ve been trying really hard to not be so rude to everyone.”  

 If only all of my kids took correction as well as he did my life as a mom would be easy peasy!

When Scott & I chose these standards for our kids we weren’t doing this hoping we would have amazing teenagers.  We just felt this was the best way to prepare them to become godly adults who could make a difference in the world they live in.  The result was enjoying a wonderful season of teenagers.  It wasn’t all easy.  We definitely had our times of difficulty.  But with the Lord’s help we faced each challenge. 
We didn’t do everything right. Our kids will be very quick to tell you everything we did wrong. I think my kids favorite thing to do is to talk about all of the crazy things I made them do when they were younger or reminisce on all of my mistakes…”Remember the time mom lined us all up to spank us because she read a book that said to do that? Hahaha!” ((sigh))
 In spite of all my mistakes my kids knew I loved them and was doing my best.  I’m proud of my teens & young adult kids.  Not because I did such a great job raising them, but because God’s mercy and faithfulness is so evident in each of their lives.
One final thing; as my kids have grown into their own person with personalities shining and talents becoming more and more evident, as a parent I have to let their decisions for their future be their decisions.  My daughter is a very talented photographer and I would love to see her pursue that, but she feels God calling her to Ireland to do full time mission work.  Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond proud of her for choosing ministry.  I support her completely.  But part of me would really like to see her use her talent for photography also.  As her mom, I could tell her what I think she should do, but I trust her relationship and conversations with the Lord and I know she will follow him and not what I want her to do. That won't stop me from asking questions though. 

If your son wants to be a teacher, but you think he would make an amazing lawyer that doesn’t matter.  Your child must choose his future, not you.  This has been hard for me in some ways, and exciting in others.  It is always fun watching your children bloom into who God wants them to be.  Remember Collin in post #2 who is one of the family mechanics?  He was always the dirtiest little boy ever!  He loved the dirt & getting dirty.  Well, that’s a good thing because he get’s really dirty when he is working on our cars.  And he always loved learning how things work, so that comes in handy also. He reads, and watches others and learns.  And his older brother Josh, as a young boy, was always taking things apart trying to make it work better.  Today he is working at a local mechanic shop, learning a trade & getting dirty too.  He loves it. He loves helping others & making happy customers.  And he is quite funny so his customers usually return and ask for him. As a child he never met a stranger and that drove me crazy!  Today, it works in his favor.
Being a parent today is crazy stuff, but I’m so thankful God has given his Word that gives us direction, encouragement and comfort.  Raising amazing teenagers starts with raising amazing kids with the help of our awesome God!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Series: Raising Amazing Teenagers ~Part 3

Here is the 3rd post in my series on teenagers. I know there will be at least one more, maybe two. This post covers very basic, but important qualities; honesty, laziness & friendships. Proverbs is my favorite book for parenting guidelines.  You can read part 1 & part 2, if you missed them.

Honesty is the only policy

Proverbs 12:19, Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment. Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight.”

Every child is going to test the limits of their parents and often that is done through lying.   We did our best to teach our kids lying will only make life harder for you.  Even if parents don’t find out you were dishonest, the Lord knows and there will always be a consequence.  It also helps to have a house full of siblings who are always watching and will rat on you.   
 “Truthful lips endure forever” .  I used this verse as an example to my kids if they tell the truth all the time, I can believe what they say all the time.  But if I catch them lying, then I will always doubt what they say to be true.  This rang true one time when my son needed me to believe him as he explained a situation where he was being blamed for doing something that he really didn’t do.  Even though I defended him to the extremely mad parent who was standing on my front porch demanding my son replace the broken phone her son said my son stepped on, in the back of my mind I doubted my son’s story.  It wasn’t until months later when that particular friend admitted that my son didn’t break his phone.  It took time for my son to earn back the trust of his word because he had lied to me I the past.  He learned the importance of honesty all the time, no matter what.

Laziness is not an option

The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor. Proverbs 12:24

If everyone is working to help mom get ready for company that means everybody.  If one kid decides they are not in the mood to clean and they want to play video games instead…that just didn’t work for me.  I never wanted my kids to be comfortable watching others work around them.  They needed to get involved and help.  And once again in a house full of siblings, if you try to be lazy you have to deal with the others, and that is never pretty. J Tackling the laziness resulted in curbing attitudes of entitlement.  The kids who learned the important of work were also less likely to feel they deserved whatever they wanted.

Friends are important so pick godly ones. 

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Proverbs 13:20

We homeschool our kids and always have, so this has made it a little easier to make sure my kids had good friends when they were younger.  But when we moved from the country to town into a neighborhood all of a sudden I had no control over my kids friends.  They loved everybody & brought everybody over!  I was ok with that, I loved having my house full.  But, I quickly realized these kids were coming from very troubled homes; things my kids took for granted, these kids didn’t know were possible, like a home cooked meal every night or mom and dad living together and liking it that way. It didn’t take long to see the importance of creating some boundaries.  My kids could play with those kids, but only at our house or out front of our house.  They were not allowed to go into their homes.  They were never allowed to spend the night or go anywhere with the kids out of our neighborhood.  At first my kids didn’t understand these boundaries but over time they realized why we were doing this.  It was to protect them.  As teenagers & older they better understand now the importance of godly friends.  This has been very difficult for them and often they find themselves alone in a room full of people.  They each have at least one special friend of whom they can depend on and I am thankful for that.

Teach your children the importance of good friends who love the Lord.  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Series:Raising Amazing Teenagers Part 2

Here is the 2nd post in a series about teenagers.  Click here for the first post.

Raising teenagers doesn't have to be a nightmare.  I think we can avoid much of the drama usually involved with teenagers if we will follow Biblical standards starting when they are young, instead of waiting until they are older.

We taught our kids the importance of simply being kind to each other.

“A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself.” Proverbs 11:17

Siblings are going to argue, fight, bicker…whatever you want to call it.  But I can’t stand it.  Instead we tried to teach our kids to honor one another.  This was simply putting others before yourself; doing something nice for them, just because you want to.  This eventually became the key to them being kind to each other.  I still hear the bickering sometimes, but I also see and hear a lot of kindness.

 “Can you hand me that book?”
“Thank you”
 “Can you help me do this?”

My teenagers are nice to each other.  I didn’t know that was possible!  It is a blessing to me & others when I see my big kids doing nice things for each other.  

Collin is 17 and just started his last year of High School.  He has taught himself a great deal about auto mechanics.  When he was younger, my husband taught him the basics and that sparked an interest that Collin has taken to a higher level.  So, it is to our great advantage when one of our cars has a problem, we know Collin will figure it out.  His sisters bring their cars to him and often he has stayed up late at night, or spent long hours under the hood on his days off to make sure the car is fixed right.  He learned when he was young the importance of taking care of your family first and you know that makes this momma proud when he does that!

We taught them the importance of hard work.

“Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.” Proverbs 12:11

Our kids have always had chores to do.  They are part of our family and they live in our house, therefore they will help keep the house.  It is not just mom’s job or dad’s job.  Everybody has to help.  This accomplished many things. 

It gave them responsibilities.  
It gave them ownership of our home. 
It taught them the value of hard work and the rewards.   

When they chores were complete correctly they were then free to play.  When my husband managed rental properties and someone would move out, the house would need to be cleaned really well and often repainted & minor repairs made.  We all helped him do this.  The girls and I would go through and clean and the boys would help dad make the repairs and everyone would paint.  We didn’t know how much this was teaching our kids until they were old enough to have their own jobs.  Helping dad was not an option.  Work was never an option.  Now my 5 older kids all work for other people and are respected and admired for their hard work ethic.  

Also, once our kids turned 13 we bought them a cell phone but they had to start earning money somehow to pay for the service.  The girls would babysit or be a “mommy’s helper”. Often the boys would mow yards for people in our neighborhood.   If our kids wanted name brand clothes that we wouldn’t buy, they knew they needed to save their money to buy it.

If they wanted their driver’s license they needed to be able to pay for the insurance and gas.  Once they had their license they saved their money to buy their first car.  Yes, we did not buy them a car.  I think it would be a lot of fun to buy my kids the kind of car they want, but when our kids had to work for it and pay for it their selves they developed an attitude of ownership they wouldn’t have had if we just gave it to them.  Plus, my kids love to tell their friends, “Yep, I bought it with my money & it’s all mine, no payments!” So, our driveway does look like a used car lot with 5 extra cars parked in it, but I am so proud of my kids for their hard work & determination.

There is a generation of young adults now who have an unbelievable attitude of entitlement.  They believe they deserve to get whatever they want and they want it now!  We really wanted to combat that as best we could and teaching our kids to work for what they want has helped a lot.  We didn’t give them whatever they wanted growing up, they had to earn most of what they received. 

The next post will cover qualities vital to becoming a responsible adult.  We want our kids to eventually leave our home and to be known by their peers as trustworthy, hardworking adults who love the Lord.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Series: Raising Amazing Teenagers

This is the first in a series of posts on teenagers.  I have avoided blogging about teenagers much because honestly, most of the time I had doubts we were doing anything right. But, since no one has been convicted of a felony or spent time in jail I decided that was a big plus and I would share a little of our experiences with our teens. (That was a sarcastic statement by the way). I don't know how many posts I will get out on teenagers, but I hope they encourage and show that even when the parents aren't sure if they are doing it right, the Lord has it all under control.

Before my husband and I were married we did what every engaged couple does.  We discussed having a family.  We talked about how many kids we would have, even what we would name them.  We decided 5 kids would be perfect for us.  We didn’t know anyone else with that many kids and thought it would be a lot of fun to have a houseful of kids.  Little did we know that God had more in mind for us.

Our first five kids were born in less than five years. Number 5 was born in February and number 1 turned five in May.  I had no clue God would give us our five kids so fast!  The Lord spread out the next 6 kids over a span of 14 years.  Yep, that makes a total of 11.  God double blessed us beyond what we thought was possible.  Isn’t that just like God.

So, when our first 5 kids were little, well-meaning family and friends had many warnings for us. The most common was,

“Wait until they are all teenagers!  Then you will find out what real parenting is about.”

So the day came when with each year we added another teenager to the list.  And to my surprise I absolutely loved having teenagers!  It was nothing like people had warned me about.  This dreaded stage by so many parents was for me a time of great joy and so much fun!  

It’s possible to enjoy your teenagers.  It doesn’t have to be such a difficult stage to go through.  But, it also doesn’t just happen. It takes hard work by the parents.

The making of an amazing teenager begins when they are born. We didn’t decide to teach specific principles to our kids when they turned 13.  It started when they were born. From the beginning we held our kids to a higher standard than our culture does.   It wasn’t an unattainable standard. It was based on their maturity and abilities and most importantly it was based on Scripture.

Culture says, “Kids will be kids, don’t expect too much.” We knew differently. We knew our kids, as teenagers, were able to make a big difference in the world around them if given the opportunity.  We used the Bible as our guide and that is the standard we held our kids to. 

Next time, I will write about what standards we set for our children, that lead to more responsible teenagers.