Sunday, January 20, 2013

Thoughts on parenting teens....

This is on my dining table. I keep moving it for meals and then putting it back to deal with it.
I thought I would write a few thoughts about our parenting journey lately,
because I know lots of folks who read this have children younger than us,
maybe it might help someone sometime.

Before I was parenting our own teenagers, I had lots of thoughts about how it should be done,
I firmly believed that the child should suffer all the consequences of their own actions
and not be rescued in any way shape or form.
And although I still believe actions have consequences,
I realise that grace and mercy are also useful in shaping the teenagers path. 

Before Christmas James left home to follow his own path,
but would you believe it, the wheels fell off in every way possible (he freely admits this)
it was the hardest thing I've ever done to let him go to a situation I didn't believe was safe,
the flat was basically a mother's worst nightmare. I shed a lot of tears over the holidays.

 When we came home from holiday the boys had been living in James' car
but things have taken a turn for the better and we worked together to get him and his friend living here with some rules we can all live with. So far it's going quite well.

So back to the fine. I could be hard nosed and refuse to pay it and let the courts take action.
But somehow I think he's had a lot of hard hard lessons for a 17 year old,
and we don't feel that mounting and remorseless debt from the Police
are going to make a big difference to the decisions he needs to make now.

I've definitely changed my mind about hard-nosed parenting,
I still believe you should be consistent but the teenager is not a fully grown adult yet
and sometimes you need to make decisions that reflect that.

The most important thing is that the teenager knows they are loved
and that you keep communicating with each other.
Sometimes this feels like an impossible task,
sometimes it's the last thing you feel like doing,
but as the adult you must be the bigger person.

Like this quilt I've been making,
we have been using all the pieces we have, even the ugly ones,
working together to build a picture of our family that will last into the future.

You can do a lot of praying while you sew 2088 little squares together,
and I'm sure I have a lot more praying to do,
but for now, James is looking for a new job
and our family has grown (Charles lives with us now) and taken a new shape
and peace has been restored for the time being.
The story is not finished yet!


  1. Great post Deb, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I like the way you're dealing with your son and hope if I'm in a similar situation with my daughters I can show the same grace, mercy and patience.

  2. Sweetheart, this is OK, James will be OK. He is not a " bad" kid just a very typical young man. I wish I could sit next to you with a cuppa and tell you all the bumps we have had with our son. You are right society puts a arbitrary age of " adulthood" and my son is only now showing signs of sensibility at the age of 23. They still need our guidance and patience and unconditional love and full support for just that bit longer than most think. He is going through the last throes of adolescence, there is no planning function in the brain YET...this will come in the next few years, our job is to minimize dangers and expand opportunities, the restvthey work out along the way. I think society is too quick to judge these mistakes, and it only causes anguish because we can and will make them's how we learn and mature.
    You are wise and loving, I am just here to tell you, he will be alright, he will learn, he will mature into a beautiful young man. There will be hiccups and he needs to know he may stuff up BUT he is NOT a stuff up. Dry those tears, drink that cuppa and look to the future.

  3. Good luck Deb, i can only imagine and am sure your prayers are being heard... Love and hugs xx

  4. this is a wonderful post to read Deb.
    What wonderful parents your children have been blessed with.
    As I head into the teenager territory I must admit all my experience of teenagers has been working as a social worker and court officer with young offenders and displaced children who have had a really rough childhood.
    Im finding the preteen/puberty years quite a challenge at times.
    I love your pearls of wisdom and I will certainly keep that in my mind for the future.

  5. I don't know if it helps, but the boys that were trouble when I was at school - a lot of them a really great guys now. Actually, the two that were the most trouble - at least in classes - are doing really well in business now. Somehow that stubborn "yapping" (for the lack of a better word) they were doing as teenagers turned into straightforward honesty once they got a bit older, and now that they're close to 30 it's a personal trait that's appreciated, it seems.

    Several are fathers. So weird to think of them as fathers...

  6. Sorry, a lot of them ARE really great guys now.

  7. Oh boy. Parenting is such a hard gig. Definitely not for wimps. You parent with love...that is obvious to me oceans apart. He, and his friend, are lucky to have you.

  8. Having parented four teens, I can say it is not an easy time no matter how "good" your teens are! My middle son was our heartbreak for many years-in and out of trouble, in and out of our house, and worse. Now he has a college degree and a good job, and lives in his own place. His past still follows him but it is past. Now he's just a joy! One of the hardest things I had to learn about parenting teens was that even though I could see an particular action as a mistake-it was their mistake to make. (I did reserve the right to say I told you so.) James will learn from experience-as we all do-it will just take more time and patience than you imagined! Hang in there You're doing great!

  9. Praying The Lord leads you in the path that's best for your family. Heaven knows that in my human-ness I don't know what that is, but I do know that your tender, loving heart is willing to be led. Many continued prayers.

  10. Ahhh, thanks for sharing that, Deb! Got any advice for "parenting" an unmotivated, disillusioned, lazy 23-yr-old? Oy!

  11. We support them, do not judge them and most of all we love them.
    I have had a son's speeding fine sitting on the table too and as a policeman friend said, "They are young and they will do these things,and eventually most of them will grow out of it." Oh and I will take the advice Jodi is asking for cause I have a 23 yr old who is just the same!! xx

  12. Sorry, meant to tell you how wonderful your quilt looks. x

  13. Thought provoking but also want to say I love your scrappy happy quilt.

  14. thanks for this post. I'm a decade at least off troublesome teenagehood but you are right, we need to way up grace and mercy versus suffering consequences. You are the only one who knows which way will be the best way to 'grow' your teenager. There is a place for tough love which may be the way to go for another teenager to learn from their actions. This is a classic example of positive parenting flexibility. And yes, love your scrappy quilt too!!!

  15. Deb, from reading your blog, I can tell that you are a wonderful, present Mama who grows and stretches with your children. It sounds like it's been a tough journey lately, but I can see the glimpses of grace that have been shared with you, from Him, that you now share with James. Chin up sister, this is the hardest work you'll ever do. (Though I say this as a mother of only pre-schoolers, so I don't even really know what the teenage years are like, sorry.) But nothing is worth more.

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. As a parent of teens I completely get this post. Just this week my son committed a minor infraction and received a minor punishment as a consequence. I ended up releasing him from the punishment. Was it wrong of me to do that? Maybe. But maybe it wasn't. Raining teenagers can never be about hard and fast rules and it takes a lot of bending.

  18. I'm 50 this year and still give my mother grief... In fact included is my mother in law as well...

  19. I'm so sorry for you and your son. Parenting is the hardest job ever. You are doing a wonderful job. It's a great blessing for your son to know that you love him and will no matter what he has done.
    Ps -your quilts are beautiful!

  20. while he was still a long way off his father saw him and ran to him and embraced him

    wise is the person who knows the season to run with open arms and kill the fatted calf and who knows the time to let the consequences teach...

    I believe in you girl and I believe in James too - I was praying for him today in fact, as you do :o) xxx

  21. GULP We have a lad called James too and I'm sure over the next few years I'm gonna be sewing some tears into a quilt too - I don;t think any of us get off the teen years lightly. Sounds like you have handled issues really well.

    LOVE the quilt too!!!
    Love Leanne


Thanks so much for dropping by. I love to hear from you and I want you to know that I really appreciate each comment!!