Here are questions and answers about the relationships between moms and their teens,
How can moms help their daughters develop their own spiritual disciplines?Becky Freeman, author of Mom’s Everything Book for Daughters
I think is important is to teach our daughters to have what I call “Eden Spots.” This connects with your daughter and her natural desire for beauty and a place to get away. It’s almost like the concept of having a room of your own, a spot of your own where you go and you meet the Lord.I think if we make that place and that time beautiful and special, it becomes natural that a daughter would want to incorporate that into her life. I’ve always had “Eden Spots” sometimes on my porch swing, and sometimes out by the lake. In the winter, it’s in my rocking chair, and my children know what that means. I have a tote bag and in it I have my Bible, a beautiful journal and a pen. I carry that tote bag with me to that Eden spot. I’ve taught my daughter to do the same thing.
As a matter of fact, one thing a mother could do to help her daughter enjoy her time with God is to with her create a little “Eden tote bag” and put the things in it that are beautiful and special that tell her that her heart is worth cultivating just like a garden that needs to be watered every day. As they learn to have that quiet time themselves, it becomes naturally addicting. You can help her to naturally want to be there because it’s a joyful, refreshing, and nourishing time.
How can a mom bond with a daughter who is so often non-adhesive and even prickly at times? Becky Freeman, author of Mom’s Everything Book for Daughters
There is a page in this book called “9 Ways to Make Your Daughter Feel Loved.” The purpose is to strengthen your connection with her. One way listed there is to just give her the gift of your presence; so often I would find that my children would show up at my elbow generally when I was engrossed in something else. It took a lot of focusing to let go of what I was doing and look them in the eye and change gears, but it’s so important!
Most of our time with our kids is really on their schedule, especially when they’re teenagers. When they show up, I really feel like it’s our job as moms as often as possible to put down what we’re doing and be there; you’ll never regret doing that.
The other thing I learned from my mom is to speak to kids with kindness and respect. She would often tell us to treat our family like guests and guests like family. It’s easy to get into a pattern where you’re nitpicking at each other just because you’re familiar. Every once in a while, I’d just have to stop, back off, and renegotiate the way we treated each other.
I think it’s important to ask your daughter’s opinion; this can easily turn into bonding moments. They might be small things, but it means a lot to a teenage girl as she’s transitioning from a child to a woman. So, periodically stop and ask something as simple as, “Hey, would you come here and taste this soup? You have such a great cooking instinct, and I need to know if it needs more salt or garlic. What do you think?” Or, you could ask, “What do you think about this dress?” The more we ask our children their opinions, the more we invite them into the world of adulthood.
Therapists say that kids who come from the most functional homes are allowed to express any feeling that he or she has. That needs to be taught and contained; you have to show them how to express feelings without destroying a relationship. A feeling is a feeling. To allow your children to express them – whether it’s anger, disgust, or whatever it happens to be – is so important; it will save them time in a therapist’s chair later on!
You talk about the importance of giving your kids the gift of a good marriage. What are you telling mothers in relation to this?Jill Savage, author of Professionalizing Motherhood
This comes out of my own journey. I think that our society has become very child-centered in the way that we parent. I think that we are seeing the demise of marriage as the divorce rates continue to rise. We are seeing some of the consequences of that kind of a strategy for raising our children. My belief is that we need to make a change, a shift in our thinking and that we need to not have child-centered families; we need to have marriage-centered families. We need to build our families on the foundation of a strong marriage relationship because that relationship is what God designed to be in place before those children were added to the home.
Those children will leave the home eventually, and the marriage relationship still needs to be intact. So, we have to invest in it all throughout the childrearing years. In order to do that, we have to be marriage-centered; we have to make that a priority because the other thing that we’re doing with that is we’re giving our children the structure and the strategy that they so much want. In a child’s world, mom and dad are their world, especially in the early years but even as they continue to grow up. What’s happening in their home is so very important to them. If mom and dad love one another, if mom and dad make that marriage relationship a priority, their world is okay, and their world has some strong foundation to it.
I really had that turned around in the first ten years of our marriage; I was putting my children first and my husband second, maybe even third, fourth, or even fifth! What I began to realize is that I needed to turn that around; I needed to be a wife first and a mother second. In doing that, I would actually give my children the stability that they needed, and I would also model for them the way in which they need to arrange their families and their priorities someday when they’re married as well.
The single mom still has to model that her relationship with the Lord is a priority. She still needs to model that she is in a partnership with God, and so regardless of whether that marriage relationship is there, there’s still a partnership there. When she does that, when she models that for her children, then she is giving them an incredible gift because she’s showing them how someday they need to live their life whether they’re married or not. They need to live it in partnership with Jesus Christ in a friendship with Him. He needs to be the number one priority in her life.
I think more than anything that that kind of a relationship needs to be modeled for those children, particularly in a single parent home. They need to know that mom is not really doing this thing on her own. It may appear that way, but she is doing it in partnership with a God who loves her very much and who loves her children very much.
Why is grace such an important tool for moms to have, and how does a mother develop that in a home with teens – who sometimes aren’t very full of grace themselves? Jill Savage, author of Professionalizing Motherhood
One of the things that we became painfully aware of was how critical our children were of each other several years ago. It was at a time that I was learning a lot about grace in my own personal life. We coined a phrase in our home called, “grace-space.” Grace-space simply means allowing another human being to be human, to make mistakes simply because they are human. We’re not perfect, and we’re going to make mistakes. When that happens, particularly in a family relationship, the way that needs to be handled is with grace.
Grace-space is allowing that other person to make mistakes without criticism, without fear of the other shoe coming down. So, this was an area that we sat down and did some education with our kids. If there’s anything I’ve learned in eighteen years of parenting, it’s that if you’re trying to only parent out of reactive situations, you’re going to most likely find yourself failing in a lot of areas – or at least struggling in a lot of areas. We’ve tried to move from parenting reactively to parenting proactively. In other words, we ask ourselves, “What do my children need to learn? How can we have some time to instruct them?” Then, we have to apply those instructions to our family relationship.
We sat down with our kids and said, “There’s a lot of criticism going on in our relationships within our family. It probably starts with us; we’ve probably been very critical where we should have given you grace. We want you to know that we’re going to work on that, but we want you to know that we want you to work on it as well.” We explained to them that grace is undeserved merit and that God extends it to us first, but then He expect us to turn around and extend it to those around us.
It completely changed the relationships that our children have with one another, and it changed the relationship that we have with our children as well. We have developed the understanding of some new vocabulary into our family that helps us to be more Christ-like in our actions toward one another.
How can I help my daughter focus on developing her inner beauty rather than always focusing on her outer beauty?Kara Durbin, author of Parenting with Scripture
Unfortunately, in today’s society beauty is of such high importance. Children feel like they’re constantly having to look their best and measure up according to what we see in the media. A verse I like to use under the topic beauty is I Samuel 16:7 which says, “Man looks at outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” That can be so encouraging, especially to teenagers who desire to fit in but many of them feel like they just can’t compete. To know and help them know that the Lord is looking at the heart and the outward appearance doesn’t matter in the great scheme of things can be such an encouragement for them.
A follow-up activity I like to use along with that is to help them start comparing the amount of time they spend on their outer appearance versus the time they spend on their inner appearance. An idea would be for them to pick an area where they don’t feel as beautiful on the inside such as compassion or loving and they can take some extra time and work on their inner beauty alongside their outer beauty helping them realize that the inner beauty is more important than the outer beauty. The idea is to remind the parents that they need to balance external compliments with internal compliments. It’s so easy to say, “Oh, you look so pretty” or “Oh, I love the way your hair is” that it takes a lot more time to think about how to compliment them on an internal beauty level. Those things can be for example, “I just love the way you are honoring the Lord by doing such and such” or “I think it’s wonderful that you are showing this person who’s been left out friendship.” Those things are the things that ultimately are going to stick with the teen in their mind and encourage them to continue that positive behavior.