Today, for some reason, I am thinking about my youngest son a lot. His birthday is coming up and he will be 14 years old…my baby! As a teenager, he is in the mode of driving for his independence. I have to admit that I have my moments of feeling rejected by him because I am mom and maybe I am not ready. Teenagers have an attitude out of this world and words cannot describe what I want to do with him sometimes but I love him. I love him…even in those times. So here I am thinking about that fact that we have had conflict and we will have more. I am also thinking about making sure that he knows that even in our conflict, he is actively loved.
My youngest is homeschooled. I decided to do this because the school just could not offer what he needed as an independent learner and also a boy. Boys learn differently. Well we all learn differently and schools tend to teach to the lowest common denominator. That just wasn’t going to do it for me or him. Because my children were military children, I homeschooled them through the summers because I never knew what the schools would be like if we had to move and I wanted them to be prepared.
How Am I Really Doing?
I am my children’s biggest cheerleader and they know it. They can always count on me to push them to be their best and hold them accountable for what they told me their dreams are. I am not a perfect mom by any means. It is just important to me that we have a safe relationship and they know that I am not perfect. I admit my wrongs and I am very transparent with them. What my babies are guaranteed to get from me is praise, understanding, and affection, and a lot of laughs and insanity. There will be conflict because we are individuals and it helps in their growth and maturity. I am not the mom who tells their children that they are in competition with anyone else but themselves. They are not allowed to quit, but they can change direction. That’s it and that’s all!
When the world was open, I dated each one of my boys alone. That is where it got weird and where I always found out how I was doing as a mom while I fed their faces. We have to do relationship check ups with all of the people we love. It is important to know how things are going before they get out of control. When teens feel unloved for long periods of time. they run the risk of mental illnesses like depression and that is something I would like to avoid with my children.
Loving On Them Daily
The more I read about children and depression and it leading to suicide, the more I want my boys to know that they are loved and safe. We have to recognize that our teens need daily warmth that has nothing to do with their behavior. Unconditional love seems to be a lost art in this present time and it’s sad. That is what we need to strengthen our relationships with them and help them navigate through their lives a little easier. When they know that we, as parents, are on their side, things are a little lighter for them. Support is important to all of us. They are no different.
Offering our teens more compliments, hugs, or expressing empathy (without judgement) when they share something that they are going through is important. It is so important to me to continuously offer emotional love to my boys on a daily basis. If they have that foundation between us, they can get out there and have full relationships with others.
Whether we realize it or not, conflict is inescapable in parenting. I will say that it is not a dysfunctional element of the relationship between us (parent and child). We are laying foundations for our children through the love and conflict that occurs between us. I use most opportunities as teachable moments. Some are for them; a lot of them are for me. My boys have taught me far more than I have taught them about love and life.
We All Need Love
Teenagers go through a lot of traumatic things. It is a tough time in life. Their bodies are changing, hormones are raging. They have to learn on a more complicated level. These babies are finding their place in the world while different adults are telling them what to do. All the while, they want to be accepted by their peers and loved by everyone. I would never want to go through that time in my life again!
When I communicate with my teen, I try to keep those things in mind. I can still get my point across to him when my delivery has him in mind. It takes a lot of practice and I am determined to raised well-loved, mature and well-rounded little humans. I have to admit that I may have done just that with my first two. My last child has been my most challenging one as far as parenting goes.
We can all finds ways throughout the day to give and receive warm feelings that will nurture love between us and our children. We are creating a reservoir that we can dip into when the inevitable disagreements show up in our relationships. And you child will hopefully know just how much you love them even when your mouth is not saying so.