Tag Archives: teens

amyl_bluesclues

Balancing Media Is Possible

Saturday night, Hubby and I invited the older boys to stay up with us and watch the movie “Iron Man.” When it came out, we didn’t choose to let them watch it; they’ve been campaigning to see it for quite some time. There is the issue of the younger boys though. They’re most definitely not ready for the, ummmmm, romance near the beginning. Some of the violence is more than we are comfortable with for them as well.

It’s been a bit of a sore point with the older kids. They want to be able to see some of the “cooler” movies without being slowed down by their younger siblings. We want to shield all of them from the rougher stuff, and most definitely feel the need to restrict what the younger boys see. At the same time, we don’t want resentment to build and cause the older boys to take frustration out on the others.

What they don’t see, of course, is the whole picture. When they were little, we watched all the kids’ shows: Barney, Blue’s Clues, and Dora the Explorer were all the rage. By the time the younger ones were old enough to care, the big guys had moved on to other entertainment. They compromised with Barney for a while, but many shows were deemed uncool and therefore unwatchable. The younger boys, interested in being just like the big kids, didn’t complain.

So they’ve all been accustomed to watching the same television shows all this time. If we go out for a family movie it has to be appropriate for all viewers. This is as it should be, and I don’t apologize for that.

So doing something different was a little concerning. Hubby handled it by being very sweet but definite in advance. He spoke to the older boys separately, letting them when we’d be watching the movie. He emphasized the need for them to stay calm about the whole thing. In return the boys were admirable and while they did talk about the upcoming treat in front of their brothers, they didn’t appear to rub salt into any wounds.

Hubby also talked to the younger boys and explained that this movie wasn’t geared for them. He gave them the option of staying up past their bedtime as long as they played nicely in their room. They were very sweet about the whole thing. Plus they’re going to be able to have a special movie sometime soon. The trick will be to choose something the older ones won’t mind missing.

I suggested Care Bears and then Barbie before they figured out I was teasing. At least, they think I was. I do believe I’ll rent something really pink and girly just to get the laugh. A mom’s gotta have fun too, right?

by AmyL

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Photo graciously provided through the Fair Use doctrine, some rights reserved

whit_christmas_joy

How Holidays Change

This holiday season felt different than most.  I felt busier.  The kids are older, and their wants are fewer but sometimes larger- for example, we capitulated on cell phones this year.  There were less bikes and toys under the tree- we’ve largely outgrown Toys R’ Us and instead the gifts came by mail from places like Think Geek and Abercrombie and Fitch.  We also have one set of grandparents here who are starting down the trail of declining health, making this Christmas one of those you fear may be the last of its kind.

Instead of being woken up at the crack of dawn by shiny faces full of so much excitement they seem to be ready to explode, the kids gradually got up, got the dog and joined us for a big family pile in bed before heading off to wash and change.  We waited on relatives, and kids were patient.  Dinner prep was done, and all was on hold.  A light snow had just begun to fall, and life was well and quiet.

This was such a different Christmas for us.  Not better or worse than any other, just different.  The family is growing up and changing.  It’s clear that the Grandparents may not be around forever, making each moment important and memorable.  The pace is slower, but less chaotic, and less exhausting than the pressure and expectation set with other holidays past.

I like it, but I also kind of miss the eager shining faces and the energy you just wanted to capture and bottle.  I’m secretly looking forward to grandkids and those early mornings again with faces just exploding with excitement.  I don’t want to be those old people who say – we’ll get there when we get there- I want to be the person who’s secretly waiting for the kids to get up and egg them on in their excitement.

Finding that unbridled joy becomes a bit more difficult as we get older-all of us, even the kids, are a bit less easy to please.  But that passion for the newness of it all- not just the gifts, but the fun and abandon- that’s what I need more of, and I know this year, I’m going to try to find more of that in our lives- beyond the holidays, beyond the birthdays- just in every day life.

We need that fun and energy and joy, and we need it without an excuse or reason.

Where will you find it?  I’ll let you know where we find it over the next year.

by Whitney Hoffman

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Photo graciously provided by joeduty, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint

a scuba diver under waterDo you ever get sick of having the same old battle over and over with your kids? Or how about wearying of just getting one problem solved, only to have a new conflict emerge?

It gets old, doesn’t it?

I’m not going to list for you the various difficulties and frustrations that led me to this post. Most likely you’ve got a similar list. If you’re anything like me, you’ve had that moment where you think, “Sheesh. How much longer do I have to do this? Why don’t they just get it?”

Assuming that a child is all grown up and matured by their 18th birthday (I decided to be generous in my terms), that means that we’ve got 18 complete years together. To look at it another way, that means

  • 216 months
  • 6570 days
  • 157,680 hours
  • 946,080 minutes or
  • 567,648,000 seconds

That’s not short. This parenting gig is a long-term thing. Sometimes it feels like we’re never going to finish this journey, and like everything I do is a flop. The eye-rolling and frustrated sighs from my pre-teen children certainly don’t help.

But.

Time marches on, and they move toward maturity every day. I just can’t always see it when I’m in so close. There will come a time when the conflict and struggles cease, and they take their places besides us as equals and friends.

Then they’ll have kids of their own, and I will be free to laugh when they find out why I’ve been ripping out my own hair all these years.

by AmyL


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Photo graciously provided by kaneda99, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

Forgiveness

young boy has confession with Catholic priestLast week, I attended the parents information session at my son’s school on an upcoming sacrament he and his class will be receiving. My son is attending a Catholic grade school, and this year he will be making his first Reconciliation. When I was young, we called it first confession or pennance. Either way, it’s the first time young Catholic children confess their “sins” and ask God’s forgiveness.

I listened as the priest told a long-winding story, and started to think about forgiveness and grace and how we teach them to our children. Whatever I might think about the Catholic Church (which is left as another column for another time), I do believe the act of forgiveness, divine or otherwise, is one of the most loving things we can do for one another.

To teach children how to really be sorry, you also need to teach them how to forgive. It’s ok to say we are sorry to our children, and admit when we make a mistake or aren’t being our best self. We parents don’t have to pretend we’re perfect. In fact, I believe that admitting that even we can make a mistake and then learn from it is another way we set an example for our children.

I certainly know I am not perfect. but I have made it one of my personal goals to always say I am sorry when I have acted as less than my best self, and through my action or inaction, have hurt another person. I think it’s important to show my children that there’s nothing I’d ask of them that I wouldn’t be willing to do myself. If I want them to be capable of saying they are sorry and admitting mistakes, then I have to show them that I can and will do the same.

The night before this parent meeting, I was home with the kids from another rough day at work. My husband was staying late at work. I was trying to get dinner made quickly so we would have time for bath and shower before bedtime and also trying to help my son with his homework at the same time. There was a lot going on and I was barely keeping all my figurative balls up in the air. My son started to get distracted with his reading assignment and was having a hard time concentrating. Instead of stopping what I was doing after the fourth (or was it fifth) time he asked me the same question and the fourth (or fifth) time he didn’t listen to my answer, I raised my voice. I didn’t yell, but I didn’t continue to speak in a normal volume. I loudly gave him the answer to get his attention.

I was immediately sorry I’d done it. I wouldn’t want someone to raise their voice with me just because they were frazzled, and I shouldn’t allow myself to do it either. As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I stopped what I was doing, knelt down so that I was eye level with my son, and told him I was sorry I had raised my voice, and asked him to forgive me. I didn’t try to explain why I was frazzled or what my state of mind was. I simply told him that I shouldn’t have raised my voice and I understood he was having trouble with his homework. He forgave me and we moved on.

I wish I could say that I am always the best parent I can be. I am human, and sometimes I fall short. I am, however, always trying. Hopefully, it is the always trying and the constant working to reach my best that matters in the end. Hopefully, in teaching my son that I can seek forgiveness as well as grant it, he will understand that saying “I forgive you” is even more important than saying “I am sorry.”

Every day we teach our children through the example we set. They watch how we react to life, to our mistakes, to everything. I hope that even my examples of being human and making human mistakes help my children to be the best people that they can be.


by Rocket Science Mom


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Photo graciously provided by Jim Forest, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

I'm Gonna Need Some Dating Advice

a boy and girl holding hands on a beachI picked the older boys (age 12) up from a week at camp last Friday and was a bit surprised to see how many girls were hanging around. It wasn’t just the friendly vibe we’ve seen in years past; these girls were interested in one of my boys.

Hubby and I have known that this would happen at some point, but this was still a bit of a surprise. And girls today are much more forward than I ever was. (Granted, I was extremely awkward socially.) I was trying to talk to the boys about getting packed up and so on but girls kept flitting around us. One of them stood in really close to us, looked at me and said, “Hi!!!!” I wasn’t really certain what she wanted, so I just responded with a greeting and tried to continue talking to my boys.

When we walked to the car to load up the sleeping bags and suitcases, some girls followed us and got their pictures taken with The Mercenary. TechnoBoy was in the car by then, and I stuck my head in to ask, “Did those girls follow him around all week?”

“Oh yea,” he said.

“Did your brother like girls following him around all week??”

“Nope,” came the reply. “They drove him crazy.”

“Oh good!” I said. “That’s my boy.”

We’ve told the boys they can’t date until they’re 16, and that needs to be group dating situations until they’re 18. That may sound harsh in today’s day and age, but from our vantage point it’s highly unlikely that they’ll meet someone at the age of 12, date her and only her for several years, get married, and live happily ever after. There’s plenty of time in life to pursue relationships; putting it off until they’re older gives them the chance to grow and mature first.

That isn’t going to stop girls from being attracted though. Hubby was cleaning out the car the next day and found a note from a girl. It was a bit accusatory, saying that my son wasn’t talking to her directly. I think she wanted him to say he is her boyfriend, because it ended by asking him “so is it yes or no?”

Sigh.

So far both boys are saying that they’re not interested in having a girlfriend. That’s going to change at some point no doubt. Which is fine, but I want them to be as well-armed as possible in advance. Girls can take relationships so seriously at this age! Even though they know in their heads that 12 or 13 is too young to find a husband, they’re so often looking for Prince Charming anyway. That’s a lot of pressure and expectation to bear.

What have you done to navigate this area of life with your children?

What do I do if girls start calling on the phone?

by AmyL

Photo graciously provided by mikebaird, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved