Teens. I have 3 of them. Three male teens to be exact. Living with teen boys has proven itself to be an exciting and exhausting endeavor.
For one, they’re a lot of fun! I often share their antics on social media with the hashtag #3teenslater because you never know what might happen. From spontaneous engine tinkering, to pranks gone wrong, to emptying a fridge of all food options in 30 minutes or less – they’re busy! Just as busy as toddlers.
I know that may be hard for young moms to believe, but it’s true. They don’t slow down, they just get bigger!
When my teens were young, I used to think things would get easier. No more changing diapers, no more chopping food into itty-bitty pieces. And that’s true, in some ways things do get easier. Yet different challenges take their place.
Personally, the biggest challenge I’ve had in raising teen boys is learning to let go while still maintaining authority. I think this is especially true with boys.
God created boys to be leaders. Heads of their households. Providers for the family. They often have a natural inclination to arrange, order, and trail blaze. There’s nothing wrong with that. That spirit is a God-given gift of leadership.
We don’t want to extinguish the flame.
However we’re the parents and and they still need to obey. So how do we all survive the dichotomy of subdued leadership? What does that look like? How do we walk that line? Honestly, it will look different for every family. I can only tell you what has worked for us.
My husband and I made the conscious decision to pick our battles (as best we could) and give our boys plenty of decision making experience. They needed to learn to make good decisions, in a safe environment (home), before we could expect them to make good decisions in a volatile environment (free society). We began young, and slowly expanded decision making opportunities as they grew in maturity.
It started with little things, like letting them pick what movie they wanted to watch. (Hint: save yourself some sanity and only give a toddler two or three items to pick from to start.)
As I said, we picked our battles. For the teens, there were decisions they could make…and decisions they couldn’t.
What to wear (within reason, nothing vulgar, immodest, etc.)
How to spend their free time (that’s why it’s called free time)
The order in which they did chores/school work
How clean (or not) to keep their room
The appropriateness of their entertainment choices (books, games, movies)
What chores/school work was expected
The time of day/week the chores/school work need to be completed
This is, of course, not an exhaustive list. Just something to give you an idea of how we work. You can see, we as parents have control of the main decision (curfew/bedtime) but we give our children freedom to make many smaller decisions within those parameters (what to do before bedtime).
Now all that makes everything sound so sweet, and easy, and balanced, doesn’t it? Ha! I will tell you with 100% honesty and openness from one parent to another, we doubted ourselves. We reevaluated and readjusted the parameters as needed.
We took also took away the right to make decisions if a teen repeatedly made bad decisions.
Didn’t get their chores finished? Wouldn’t wake up on time? You better believe we took away freedoms. We tried to do it with kindness, explaining that they weren’t demonstrating maturity or respect, and they would get the freedom back when they demonstrated an increase in maturity or respect.
But teen boys can be headstrong and stiff backed and honestly, we had plenty of heated moments. Even some really ugly moments.
And that’s where love and grace come in to play. We can have all the rules, guidelines and stipulations we want, however they won’t yield a harvest if we fail to love our children. Right. Where. They. Are. Even when they’re standing right in front of us, rolling their eyes. We must love them right where they are.
If our children know we love them, 100% without a doubt, they trust us. They trust our authority over their lives. They are more likely to respect our decisions and rules.
Why do you trust the Lord with your life? Part of the reason I trust Him is because I know (that I know that I know) that He loves me and wants what is best for me. Our relationship with the Father is the perfect example for us to follow with our children. He gave us the Bible – full of rules, guidelines…and love.
Let’s make sure our teens get the same.