I’ll be honest, it wasn’t easy to record that thing! I’m so technologically challenged it was tricky to figure out how to record myself, and stuff like that is SO far out of my comfort zone. I think it’s weird how it was so awkward even to have Claire take a headshot for me let alone record myself talking. We live in a generation where everyone (well, maybe the younger generation) is so comfortable being in front of a camera (selfies, vlogs, etc.) and I am just not.
But that recording is DONE, and I really am excited to share the ideas I have recorded there. And guess what? I even figured out how to share some pictures throughout the video along with my stories. Maybe I’m missing my calling in the tech industry. Ha! I let it all hang out and just went for it. There’s too much to share to be so shy about recording your dang self, so just bear with me on that one.
You know how when you prepare stuff like that you learn and think about so many things along the way? I’m so grateful for that opportunity to really think about relationships. Because there’s no end to workin on those things you know?
There are a few things I wish I could go back and splice in to what I am sharing in that summit, so I’m adding them here. I’d love any input people have. One thing I wished during that recording was that I had all of you blog readers there having a discussion with me, because I consider many of you good friends…you could have all added so much! There are so many great ideas out there that you have shared over the years. I love discussions about this stuff. So please speak up in the comment section if you have things to add, things you didn’t agree with, things I didn’t touch on that should be brought up. Because as we all know, relationships matter! And twenty minutes on a little video obviously can’t cover everything.
We can learn SO MUCH from each other.
Ok, so the things I wish I could add to my segment:
1) When I talk about how we need to respect our kids, I would have loved to add how important it is to apologize once in a while. We all make mistakes. When they realize we’re human too, and we recognize our own mistakes and can talk about them, they’re going to be much more apt to come to us with theirs.
2) After the part where I give three ways to nurture connection, I talk about disconnecting and I kind of skim over it. I was running out of time. And although it seems counterintuitive, I think it’s so important to disconnect with in teenagers to some degree…and also pre-teens as they morph into those confusing teens. I talk about disconnecting from fighting our kids’ battles (which is so tough to do! We want them to succeed so much that sometimes we don’t let them fail). They need to fight their own battles to develop their own strength so we’ve got to back off.
I love the story of the ecosystem (Biosphere) that scientists created in the 80s and 90s (I think it was to help research how it would be to create sustainable life in space, but I’m not altogether positive about that). It was a perfect environment with healthy vegetation and rich soil. But the trees couldn’t seem to mature they way they had hoped. After some research, they realized the problem was that they didn’t have wind. Trees need wind to help firm up their roots and to make them stronger. (I wrote a little about a poem that goes along with that thought back HERE.)
Love that analogy to raising kids…that “wind” or all the trials that come their way is essential to help them to forge their own ways and build their own foundations. So we have to disconnect from fighting for them.
3) We also have to disconnect emotionally in some ways. When one of my teenage girls come in with a drama story about what’s going on with her friends I need to disconnect my knee-jerk reactions to the craziness they’re spilling out. It’s so easy to jump in and take sides or offer advice or gawk at something that we just can’t believe. But we need to back off and let them know we have confidence that they can figure it out.
One of my girls has been coming home so sad because of friends lately. I internalize that sadness, because I am her mother. I carry it heavily around with me. When, in reality, that daughter of mine just needed a little space and time and within an hour is JUST FINE. But there I am still wringing my hands in worry. I need to disconnect myself from that. They can handle this if we’re not so quick to try to carry them. I love what a speaker mentioned one time: our kids have lots of “happiness boxes” and THEY need to carry them, not us. If we are carrying their happiness they won’t learn to carry it themselves. They’ll think others are in charge of their happiness when really, the only person who can really make them happy is THEM. Yes, we can be a support, but we have to realize we can’t fix everything, nor should we try.
One of my other daughters tends to get so sullen and dark at times. Oh boy do I ever want to just get in there and fix that girl…”what is wrong??” “How can I help??” But guess what I’ve realized? SHE’S A TEENAGER! And sometimes teenagers are sullen. Sure she needs love and maybe I should do the good ol’ “talents on fingertip” thing with her to make her glow a little brighter sometimes, but hopefully she’ll learn that that sullenness doesn’t help anyone and she’ll grow out of it.
4) We have to disconnect from making decisions for them. Oh boy. The teenage years are one time when I wish I could just take that free-agency away just for a little. Boy to I ever wish I could make some of their decisions for them! But that is the whole point of learning to build their own foundation: it is made on their own decisions. Yes, some will be awful ones. And some will be grand. And we just have to roll with the punches.
And we have to start early.
I keep thinking of a little story from church a couple weeks ago. It was Fast Sunday (in our religion we fast for two meals the first Sunday of the month…more about that HERE). Lucy came up to me in the hallway at church and asked if she could please take a drink from the drinking fountain. She had a cold sore and she was sure that drink would make that cold sore better.
I looked her in the eyes, held her chin in my hands and told her that was up to her. If she thought it would help, then go for it. She was old enough to make that decision herself. And instead of skipping off and deciding to drink, her whole face clouded up. “I can’t make that decision mom!” she wailed. Oh boy. We have some work to do in letting our kids make their own decisions! I promised that I wouldn’t be mad either way (maybe that’s what she was nervous about, and I need to do better and not connecting my emotion with their decisions…that’s a huge deal too) and I prodded her to just make that choice. So she took a drink. And guess what? She did feel better. And all was well. And I don’t know if that little thing is going to lead to her casting her whole fasting to the wind or make her want to do it more, but at this point it needs to be her decision come what may. She’s old enough. And she’s not even a teenager yet! Ha!
I love what my friend told me one time about raising teenagers: we just sometimes have to be spectators watching the waves. We don’t have to dive in and correct. Our job, when kids morph into the teenage years (at least the older ones) is just to love them to pieces and disconnect the emotions that so naturally come with what they do. Oh, you decided to turn your hair pink? If you like it, I like it. You lost your retainers? Dang, here’s the phone number for the orthodontist to figure that out. Those friends you’re hanging out with are making you feel intimidated and self-conscious? What do you think could fix that? Turning things over to them and being their best cheerleaders is so important for teenagers.
And also so dang hard for parents.
Grace and Claire, although best of friends, came home in a huge huffy fight the other night. Teenage girls are crazy. Maybe I should have included that in my summit talk…
But I just watched those waves. And guess what? Within a half an hour they were best friends again. The storm blew over. What do you know?!?
Ok, that’s all for today…although I could go on and on. This isn’t even touching the thoughts about what to do when teenagers are so far away emotionally that you can hardly reach them despite your very most valiant efforts, or when they’re alternately so close that their emotions and worries and anxiety are taking over your life and you know both of you really need help. I’ve talked to moms in both those situations lately and I want to send some serious love to moms who are in the trenches with so many tough, dark struggles so unique and varying.
But no matter where you are in your parenting, toddlers or teenagers or adults, hopefully the I Am Mom summit will embolden you to go forward with new ideas and courage to help you know that you’re not alone in this challenging, amazing, sometimes painfully harrowing yet beautifully rewarding thing we call motherhood.
Sending lots of love out today!
Go hug those awesome teenagers!