Three Ways to Tune Into Your Teenage Son

Three Ways Tune Into Teenage Son

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Dear Mom,

When my son was young, I would think about the future and I often battled the fear of what might happen when he became a teenager. Do you ever feel that way? Knowing our relationship would change as he got older I was fearful of what it would turn into. Change was inevitable, but I didn’t want to lose the sweetness.

Fear not! There is hope!

One of the things I have worked hard to do is to nurture my relationship with him by connecting with him in any way possible.This connecting has looked different in each season, but here are just a few of the ways we’ve kept our relationship strong.

  • Model Humility: Admit When You Are Wrong

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…” (Colossians 3:12)

Beginning at a young age, my husband and I would regularly take the time to ask each child if there was anything that we were doing that bothered, hurt, or frustrated them. It often brought to light things that we didn’t realize we were doing. It gave us insight into where they were and how we could best encourage them.

I remember clearly the day I sat with my then elementary school age son and asked him if there was anything I was doing or saying that frustrated him, or anything I needed to work on as a mom. He quietly thought for a few minutes and then said,

“Well, Mom, sometimes at night when I wake up and I’m scared, I call out to you. And sometimes you get irritated. That kind of hurts my feelings.” Grieved by my lack of sensitivity, I asked him to forgive me and told him it was something I would work on. I thanked him for being brave enough to be honest with me. And from that day on I purposed to try to respond better when he woke me up in the middle of the night because he was afraid.

Practicing tuning in over the years has been very eye-opening and humbling, but it has shown our children that we’re people who are in a process of growing  just like they are. It has helped to pull our children closer to our side (even in their teen years!), helped my husband and I become better listeners, and has been used as a tool to help us become even better parents.

If we’re unable to receive input or we make excuses for our behavior such as claiming that we’re “too old to change,” we are the ones who lose! We will lose relationships with our children, opportunities to grow and be humbled, chance to set an example, and lastly, we will lose the respect of our children.

We must admit that we don’t know everything. We must not insist that our way is always the right way. It’s a good thing when our children see that we don’t know it all and that we’re seeking help from the only One who does. If we live humbly before our children, I believe it will be one of the most important things God uses to draw our children to Him.

  • Give Them The Gift of Silence

It’s easy to automatically reflect on our own childhood and want to give our children the “When I was your age . . .” lecture. I’ve found in most cases that this speech only causes frustration. Our children are not us. They’re individuals. They need us to be functioning in the here and now and focus on who they are. As easy as it can be for us to go down memory lane, our parenting should not be based on all that we experienced as children. It’s important that we purpose to seek wisdom from God and study who our children are as individuals.

As my kids approached the teen years, my husband and I found ourselves reflecting back on our own experiences, so we came up with a signal that we call the “You’re Going Down Memory Lane” signal! It’s a gentle reminder that helps us to listen more than we talk.

When I practice listening more than I talk as we are going about our daily lives, my son will often open up about what is on his mind. Many conversations happen when I least expect it–over a meal, in the car, or on the way to a sporting event.  It is easy to get stuck in “parenting mode”, “teaching mode”, or “lecture mode”, when a “be quiet and listen mode” is more appropriate.  This validates what they are thinking and feeling and that you really want to hear what they have to say!

  • Turn Off, But Tune In!

In this age of technology much of what we do is done on the computer or cell phone. It’s easy to be distracted by what is now an ever-present pull, easily accessible, and seemingly urgent. Starting when they were very young, as much as possible, I have made it a policy to turn off all technology when my family enters the room, so that I can focus on them with as little distraction as possible. Of course, at times that may not be possible. I may need to finish up an email or quickly come to a breaking point on a project. There are times when we’re watching a movie as a family or when everyone is busy doing their own thing, so it’s okay to continue working, but as much as I possibly can, my computer closes when my family is home together. It shows them they are what is most important and that I want to focus on them with no distractions.

Modern technology is much more than a distraction, though, and it can be used for good! Because of the technology we do have, there are many creative ways to use it to tune in and communicate with our children. For example, the cell phone can be a wonderful way to keep in touch. As soon as your child gets a cell phone, start texting them regularly!

Messages like,

“Just checking in.”

“I love you.”

“I’m proud of you.”

“I’m thankful for you.”

“When will you be home?” reaffirm your interest in and affection for your teenage son. Cell phones and text messages are just another way I can tune in and connect with them. It’s a great way to take advantage of this age of technology.

Even though my children are now grown, I continue to look for ways to tune in. I don’t think that will ever end no matter what season of life I’m in. Yes, it does take time and creativity and just when we think we have it down, our kids grow and change. Then we have to try new ways to tune in. Our children are worth the effort, don’t you think?

150 150Gina Smith has been married to Brian for 25 years, and has been a mom for 23 years. Her husband and children have been her greatest gifts! Even though she has entered a new season of life, her children do still need her, and she is thrilled about that! Gina has served alongside her husband at a small Christian college right outside of Washington DC for almost 20 years. After homeschooling both of her children, she was able to serve as the Dean of Women at the college. Being a mom has been the most wonderful, terrifying, exciting, challenging, satisfying, exhausting, heart wrenching, and heart warming adventure and calling of her life. Now that her children are both grown, she fully enjoys her calling to mentor young women in person, and on-line with her blog “Real Life Titus Two“.

 

Locker Room Lessons: Talking About Ray Rice

Locker Room Lessons is a weekly series here at The MOB Society meant to help moms connect their sons’ love of sports with lessons on life and faith.

You can’t watch even an hour of football this week without hearing about Ray Rice. If your boys are watching any sports TV, his name will probably be mentioned, and if they are like my boys, when they hear a name enough times, they want to know why everyone is talking about that person. So today we’re talking about Ray Rice.

Locker Room Lessons Ray Rice

Who is Ray Rice?

Rice is a professional football player who plays running back for the Baltimore Ravens. This past March, he was arrested and charged with third-degree aggravated assault for punching his fiancee in the face and knocking her unconscious. A video of the incident was released to the media, creating public outcry and a change in the NFL policy on players involved in domestic abuse.

This September, after more video footage of the abuse was released, the Ravens terminated Rice’s contract and the NFL indefinitely suspended Rice. He is currently appealing this suspension.

Domestic abuse among high profile athletes is not a new thing. The media has unprecedented access to the details of this case so we are hearing more about it than ever before. That means our boys are hearing about it as well. Here are a few topics you can touch on with your sons if {or when} the subject of Ray Rice comes up. My husband and I have discussed these as ways to talk about the topic with our boys – eight and six – if they should ask.

Respect for Women – Ray Rice punched his fiancee, who is now his wife, in the face and knocked her out. While we want our boys to know that it is NEVER acceptable to hit a woman, we want to emphasize the importance of showing respect to women at any age; not hitting, punching, pushing, and so much more. Use this opportunity to talk about respect and honor particularly as it relates to the women in your sons’ lives.

Fame Doesn’t Give You a Free Pass – Unfortunately, a lot of famous people do things they shouldn’t because they think they’re untouchable. This situation is an example for our boys that being rich, famous, and talented doesn’t protect you from facing the consequences of bad decisions.

What We Do in Secret is Still Seen by God – Many bad choices are made when we think no one is looking. In the case of Ray Rice, the abuse took place in an elevator at a casino. Even though no one else was around, casino cameras caught everything. True character is revealed when no one is watching. Even thought there won’t always be cameras present, God is always with us.

From heaven the Lord looks down
    and sees all mankind;
from his dwelling place he watches
    all who live on earth—
he who forms the hearts of all,
    who considers everything they do. ~Psalm 33:13-15

It Doesn’t Matter Who is Watching – all of our choices should be made with the purpose of loving and honoring God. Whether no one is watching or you are on live TV–good choices are good choices.

There are many more lessons that could come out of this Ray Rice incident, but the important thing is to consider the age and maturity of your son before getting in to these conversations. Make a game plan BEFORE he asks about it and be willing to answer questions honestly, but in an age/maturity appropriate manner.

Has your son asked about Ray Rice? What has the discussion been like?

Erin MohringErin finds joy in her life as a Jesus-follower, doctor’s wife, mama to three handsome guys, writer at Home with the Boys, and co-founder of The MOB Society. She has a passion for healthy living, fashion, and encouraging families to form strong bonds based on faith!

Four Ways to Grow A Young Man

Four Ways to Grow A Young Man

Dear Mom,

Jake had just driven off to school when I sat down to write to you this morning. My thoughts were interrupted by news that my mentor of twenty years had lost her battle with cancer. She was there the day my baby boy was born, for his stitches and school decisions, and just recently for my questions about him becoming a young man. Her sudden absence paralyzed me and I forgot all about you.

But then I thought back to the last conversation I had with my sweet mentor, the one when we sat in our pajamas and drank tea late at night in her family room. I confessed feeling like I don’t always know my son in this teenage season, that I sometimes miss the little boy who wanted to marry me, and that I need wisdom to connect with him as he emerges into manhood from boyhood. This season of a young man is so new to me. She listened, laughed and made me laugh. She even let me cry too. Then she unwrapped the invaluable gift of her wisdom on what matters most when raising a boy to become a young man.

• Stand for What We Believe (Even When He Explores What He Believes)  Their respect for us will keep us connected as he finds his way.

Make Our Home a Place He Belongs (Even When He Chooses a Different Style) Let little things go that could make him feel unwelcome or uncomfortable.

Embrace the One He Loves (Even if She is Different Than You) They will love us for loving their friends and ultimately, their mate.

Encourage Him to Be the Man God Made Him to Be (Even if It’s Different Than His Dad) Your support and acceptance will keep him connected to your family.

I went home the next day knowing I could loosen my grip on my teenage son and let his heavenly Father shape him into the young man HE wants him to be. I felt the relief that comes from having a mom who’s “been there” tell me I’ll be okay and my boy will be okay too.

The next week, she was diagnosed with aggressive cancer. Two grown, devoted sons stayed by their mom’s side in each of her precious final days. Memories of my mentor and her wise words reminded me of how much of a difference she made for me in each season of my life as the mom of a boy.

And that’s when I remembered you. I want to carry on my mentor’s legacy by giving the gift of encouragement to another mom. You’ll be okay with your growing boy, too, my friend, even as he transitions to less of a boy and more of a young man. Stand for what you believe, make your home a place your boy belongs, embrace the one he loves, and encourage him to become the man God made him to be. Keep on loving that son-turning-man, and your connection will endure the seasons of his life and yours.

Cheering you on through the teenage years,
Julie

Julie SandersNot a day goes by when Julie Sanders isn’t thankful that “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Rom. 5:20). She loves to teach God’s word and minister to women, because she was blessed to have seasoned moms walk the motherhood journey with her. Mentoring and ministering internationally makes her heart soar, and her favorite travel partner is husband Jeff. The youngest of their two nearly grown kids, son Jacob has made Julie catch her breath, fill with joy, and drop to her knees time and time again.

 

 

 

21 Days of Prayer for Sons (join us for the next challenge!)

  • Are you a mother of boys who often finds herself wanting to wave the white flag in defeat?
  • Do they drain you, overwhelm you, steal your heart, break your heart and cause you more anxiety than you ever dreamed possible?
  • Do you long to fight pro-actively for your boys, but just don’t know how to get ahead of the daily battle?

If so, you’re not alone.

Pray passionately and purposefully for the hearts of your sons with the MOB Society in the month of October.

It’s been three years since our community last joined together in collective prayer for our sons. Prayer is the most important, most vital, most life-giving part of our parenting. Unfortunately, it’s also the most overlooked. Here’s the truth:

The best way a mom can enter the battle for the heart of her son is on her knees.

There are so many books out there today on the topic of parenting boys that I can’t count them. Nor do I have time to read them all. But even if I did, reading these books and putting the solid tools in them to work still doesn’t come with guarantees.

Knowing this, it becomes quite clear that there is only one thing we can do…

Plead with God.

Pray.

Today, I challenge you to pray passionately and purposefully for the hearts of your sons with the MOB Society in the month of October.

Register for the fall edition of 21 Days of Prayer for Sons, and…

  • Join with a community of thousands of boymoms just like you crying out to God for their sons.
  • Learn to cover, not hover.
  • Experience the value of praying intentionally for your sons.
  • Enjoy proactive mothering, as you seek God for your son’s every need.

Here’s how to join:

This challenge is based on the book Praying for Boys: Asking God for the Things They Need Most.

  1. Pick up your copy of Praying for Boys today.
  2. Commit to pray for your boy(s) for 21 days straight in the month of October following along here at the MOB Society for direction and inspiration.
  3. Subscribe to the MOB Society blog to make sure you get all of the challenge posts.
  4. Leave us a comment below indicating your commitment to join the challenge. Tell us about your “why,” for joining this challenge. What’s his name? How old is he? What are your hopes for him?
  5. Click this link to spread the word to other boymoms.

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Schedule:

September 26th, 29th, and 30th – together, we’ll prep for the challenge right here on the MOB Society blog, covering the first three chapters of Praying for Boys

October 1, 2014 - the prayer challenge begins and will run every weekday through the month of October here on the MOB Society blog.

October 30th – prayer challenge ends.

October 31st – we’ll provide a link-up for the bloggers among us—an opportunity to publicly share how God moved in your family through this intentional time of prayer.

Comments from previous participants:

“This challenge…has given me my joy back in mothering” ~LaToya

“Thank you for giving me a tangible method for transformation in my family!!” ~Anne

“Thanks, Brooke for your help. I’ve always known that God was listening; I just didn’t know what to say!” ~Laurel

“So many heart changes are going on in our home and I’m just so thankful…” ~Ashley

Plan to join us for the fall edition of 21 Days of Prayer for Sons!

We can’t wait to get started!

 

 

 

 

 

Five Perks of Raising a Teen Boy

Raising a teen boy has its perks, though listening to the general public you’d think it’s the worst thing ever. I won’t sugar-coat the experience, but it isn’t all bad. As with anything in life, there are drawbacks however, there are also perks.

Five Perks of Raising A Teen Boyimage source

The good news is, there are ways to highlight the perks. And if there’s anything moms need, it’s more positivity in our days.

1. We Get to See Change and Growth

In the early years, any changing fell on us–WE changed diapers and diets and environments and rules because our boys needed that. Now, they’re changing, and what they need is a little space. They need room to figure out who they are and where they’re going. That doesn’t mean moms are not important. We get to see them spread their wings, make decisions, learn from things, and eventually overcome. Those things only happen if we back up a bit. Balance is key—we should let our teens know we’re here and most importantly, our love will always be here. Then sit back and let them navigate while being open to dialogue and discussion when they ask.

2. We Get to Watch Them Process.

Teens feel and experience new things–some good and some bad.  Whichever camp these feelings and experiences fall into, teens need to process them and many times that is through talking. Let them vent. Listen to them. We have the opportunity to validate their words when we sit, actively listen, and thoughtfully respond.

Questions like “How do you feel about that?” or “What do you think about that?” let them know you care about their changing feelings and perspectives. When venting becomes hurtful or teen angst spills over onto the whole family, remind them that often feelings are not fact. By taking the opportunity to talk one-on-one and reminding them that respect is still important, we reinforce that it’s okay to have a bad day, however it’s not okay to impose that on everyone in the family.

3. We Get to Have Fun and BE Fun.

We can’t fear the dreaded eye-roll so much that we don’t give in to a bit of fun. Teens won’t always tell us that they want to be kids again, but sometimes they do. The family is the only safe place. Peer pressure is off and teens can just be themselves–so take advantage of it. Some of our best family memories were made when our boys were teens. They’re not completely our peers yet, but they are functioning more like adults than little children. Enjoy that.

4. We  Get To Look To the Future.

Continue pointing them forward. When school is tough, remind them that one day they’ll have that diploma in hand.

When they worry about a relationship, we get to share our own teen struggles and successes.

Dream about their future. We get to tell them how much we believe in them—that one day, they will be what God has purposed for them. Every step we take together with our teen sons, whether on a hard day or a good day, is part of their journey to adulthood.

Let’s be encouragers by reminding them, “Look how far you’ve come.”

5. We Get to Be Part of the Same Team

In a time when our sons begin to stand alone, a united mission keeps us all on the same page. This verse served as a great reminder during our boys’ teen years:

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

First, we moms are Christ’s ambassadors to our teenage boys; God is making His appeal through us, to our sons.

As a family, we are united in that mission. Our family serves as an ambassador for Christ; He makes His appeal to those around us through us.

Be a unit.

Hang together as a family.

When we focus on the perks of a teen son, life can be quite enjoyable.

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Laura Lee Groves is the mother of four sons and the author of I’m Outnumbered! One Mom’s Lessons in the Lively Art of Raising Boys, in addition to Pearl, a novel about international adoption.

Want to learn more about Laura? Make sure to…