Category Archives: Parenting

Despite Less Drama, Life with Teen Boys is No Cakewalk

When our boys were young and rambunctious my husband used to say, “Pick your pain.” By this he meant girls may be easier when they are younger, but the pain will come later in the emotional drama of the teen years. Whereas boys will be harder during the toddler years, but will get easier as they grow. Either way there will be pain.

Yes, either way there will be pain.

Obviously this philosophy stems from the stereotype of girls and boys, and in many ways we’ve seen it to be true.  Boy drama is nowhere near girls. We know! But, being a teenage boy – and parenting them – is no cakewalk either.

Now that I’ve been through it with a girl and am in it with boys I honestly think in many ways it is harder for boys. I know, all you moms of just girls think, “No way!” But boys struggle with identity and worth in much the same way as girls. They get left out, feel alone, experience hurt feeling and rejection. Only they tend to stuff it even more than girls- because they’re boys and boys are supposed to be tough and non-emotional.

This same unspoken expectation to be “manly” plays into boys’ decisions to give into sinful behavior.  They worry what others will think, don’t want to be made fun of and feel pressure to conform to what “cool” boys do so they take a puff of the vape, use foul language, look at pornography, and share inappropriate pics from girls.  Before you know it none of these things seem like such a big deal. Did God really say don’t eat of the fruit from the middle of the garden? 

Of course this happens with girls too.  Boys and girls act in accordance to their desire for attention and affirmation. But from my vantage point I see a widely disproportionate number of girls vs boys who are able to withstand teen year temptations. And in our society of double-standards certain behavior for boys isn’t even considered a big deal. Boys wil be boys, right? 

As a boy mom this worries me. I know with pornography, drinking, drugs, immodestly dressed girls and sex always put before them standing strong against temptation will be by God’s grace alone. Recognizing this does two things:

  1. It drives me to the Father in prayer knowing he loves my boys even more than I do.
  2. It challenges me to be the contrary voice against the culture in my boys’ lives.

Both are hard. In the midst of our kids’ sin, struggles and trials it is hard to trust God when his ways are not always ours.  It is also hard knowing how to engage our kids’ hearts and speak truth into them; even knowing what it is they need to hear. What I do know though is God has given parents the high calling to shape how our kids see him, themselves, and the world around them. But eighteen years goes fast.

Ever since my daughter neared college, I’ve been hit with how many things I want to impart with each of my kids. Lessons and truths that take time and repetition. Things that when we were in the thick of the parenting forest I thought we’ld have plenty of time for later. But then time whittles away so quickly, it can feel overwhelming and hopeless to start in on things we’ve neglected.

Thankfully God has not left us to do it alone, and it’s never too late. He promises to equip us with everything necessary to do what is good and pleasing to him. So as we start this new school year, whether we are feeling fearful or tired of fighting the uphill battles, may we turn to him and be met by his infinite wisdom and grace for our parenting. In him there is always hope for us, our girls and our boys.

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Why College Is Harder than It Even Should Be for Our Kids

When I was in college I spent countless hours on the floor in my room of the sorority house pecking out my English paper on a Brother Word Processor. Only one girl in the house had a desktop computer, so for the majority at that time Brothers were the best thing going. Inevitably though in the wee hours of the night before the paper was due is when the cartridge ribbon ran dry. This meant running to the office supply store at daybreak and then very carefully (under the gun of a ticking clock) finish typing. But you better not make a mistake!

If you also had a word processor you know a mistake meant potentially retyping the page from the top. This was because the word processor had no delete button. Instead it required backspacing to the error and hoping the correction tape hit in just the right spot. White Out was an option too (do they even still make that?), but an exact realignment of the type guide after the error was still needed to keep going without restarting.

How nice it would’ve been to carry around a laptop in our backpacks. No cords even restricting work to our rooms. This would’ve been especially great on those nights my room (located right at the top of the stairs) was full of friends watching Friends and I had a paper to do. But then when I wanted to stay in my room because it was too cold or rainy how awesome to have had WiFi and Google and not have to trek over to the library for research!

Thinking about these things now as “hardships” makes me laugh. It’s all we knew so it was just what we did. But somewhere along the way grit has gone by the wayside. Today when the going gets tough, many college kids can’t cope as evidenced by university counseling centers nationwide struggling to keep up with the demand for mental health services.

Now I do think college students are under way more pressure today – thanks to our culture of comparison and standard of perfection. So it is not that I don’t think college is hard (even if the technological changes make life easier). COLLEGE IS HARD. But I’m afraid we haven’t prepared our kids as well as we could for the reality that not only is college hard, but life is hard.

I know there are ways I accommodated our daughter to make her life easier and less stressful. My intention to help came out of love, but I wonder now if my helping became enabling?

One friend described the two like this:

 “Helping is doing for someone what he is not capable of doing himself; enabling is doing for him things he could or should do himself.”

By not requiring our children to do chores or to sacrifice their time and desires for the good of the family, we allow them to live self-centered. In catering to their every whim, we foster an attitude of entitlement. When we swoop in to rescue them from consequences and never allow them to fail, we leave them ill-equipped to handle adversity on their own.

This is not setting our kids up to be college ready!

Instead we need to teach them to deal with adversity, to see the world does not revolve around them and things are not always easy. So next time you are tempted to take things into your own hands by emailing the teacher/coach, calling the school or gossiping with other parents, encourage your child instead in how to handle the conflict on their own. This may mean for them a difficult conversation with a friend, teacher or coach. It may mean you helping them accept second string. Or it may mean backing the teacher for giving them a late grade (even a zero) if work wasn’t turned in on time. But I firmly believe what they will gain is for their greater good.

To raise kids prepared for adulthood, we must rethink what we’re doing to get them there. Because honestly, shielding our kids from hardship and responsibility, not holding them accountable and allowing them every indulgence is not real life. Real life is hard. College is hard. Relationships are hard. Work is hard. Let’s start doing the hard thing this school year and give them proper training ground while in the safety of the nest.

Did you miss the other two posts in this mini college-related series? Check them out here: Your Identity is Not in Your Greek Letters
Embracing a New Normal After a Child Leaves for College

Embracing a New Normal After a Child Leaves for College

Today we moved our daughter back to her college town.  Only this year instead of leaving her in a dorm with hardly a friend, she was eager to settle in to her first apartment with three sorority sisters. There were still some goodbye tears, but what a difference a year makes- for her, and us!

A year ago I couldn’t image how our new normal would ever feel normal. Some of you feel this now. So if you are preparing to drop off your college freshman (or will be in another short year or two) follow me over to Rooted Ministry for today’s post in my 3-part college series: Embracing a New Normal After a Child Leaves for College.

Did you miss the last college post? Click for: Your Identity is Not In Your Greek Letters. 
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