Three Daily Reminders to Connect With Your Teenage Boy

I just want to connect with him.

I’ve spent fifteen years with this kid. He used to rattle off every thought that went through his head, but sometimes it can get very quiet, awkward even.  We’ve always been so close, and now I might sit by his side and can’t think of one single thing to say. I don’t want to say the wrong thing and push him away. I don’t want him to think I’m trying too hard. I’m baffled.

I just want to connect.

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That awkward scenario doesn’t happen too often with either of my teen boys and I’m super thankful for that. Overall we have kept a healthy connection as they have entered their teenage years. But still, teenage boys will have these moments, and us moms…we need to deal with it.

When those moments do happen, I’ve discovered a little trick to help us connect. I sort of just stumbled upon it, but the more I practice it, the more certain I am that it works.

Connecting with your teenage son can be as simple as BEING IN MOTION with them. Boys need to move–a lot, and physically doing things with your son is a sure-fire way to open up communication.

When I want to chat with my boys, I will often get outside with them.  We shoot baskets together, pick fruit, or take the garbage down to the street together.  With almost no effort, I find the conversation flowing.  Sure, there may be some quiet moments, but soon the chatting begins.  Taking a walk or hike is probably my favorite way to open the channels of communication.

It doesn’t have to be playing sports or going outdoors.  I might ask one of my sons to help me fold laundry or do the dishes. As we work, there is a natural connection. We may not talk non-stop, but a little joke here, a comment there…which often lands us in a real-live conversation.

The car can be another magical place and it’s for that reason that when I’m alone in the car with one kid, they put phones and iPods away.  A little background music and the car provides a great place to chat.

THREE DAILY REMINDERS

Though teenage boys can seem like quite a mystery, I find these these THREE DAILY REMINDERS help me find a connection with my boys:

1. My teenage boys are NOT who they used to be. I need to let go of what I considered “normal” in his little boy years and allow him to grow into the man he is becoming.

2. My teenage boys still need me. Though my role has changed, I am still important in their life.  They might actually want to tell me about the things going on in their life, but perhaps  aren’t sure how to start the conversation. It is my job to look for opportunities and stay open for when the time is right.

3. My best chance of connecting with my teenage sons is when we are moving.  If I can find an activity or a project to do with my sons, they will be much more likely to open up.

Parenting teens is one of my favorite things in the world. It has taken me some time to adjust, but I love what we are growing in this new season. I encourage you to let go of old expectations or sentimental notions. Embrace the teenage years, have fun with your son, and pray for him as he is growing into the man you’ve been preparing him to be since he was born!

With Aloha,
Monica

Monica Swanson lives on the North Shore of Oahu with her husband and four surfer boys.  She home schools her boys, and has a passion for all things family, health and faith.  She loves to share encouragement and inspiration at her blog:  www.monicaswanson.com.

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This post is a part of our series on building relationship with our teen sons.  Click here to read them all!

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Eight Simple Things that Connect You With Your Teen Boy

I played the air guitar to an amazing 80’s song in the car last night.

My teen son, the middle one, sat in the seat next to me.  You would have thought I was Selena Gomez or Ariana Grande, the way he was looking at me, with eyes that smiled and said you’re awesome.

It is among my favorite things in life, when my teen boys look at me this way.

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Of course, I’m not always the cool mom.  Sometimes they notice my meddling and breathe that heavy sigh and say an exasperated “Wow, thanks, mom,” when I tell them “No you can’t go to that movie with those teens whose parents I don’t know.”

But we are close.  Really close.  The kind of close that you hope and pray for, but aren’t sure sixteen and thirteen will allow and then are gloriously surprised when it does.

I’m grateful, every day, that among the millions of things I did wrong, the way I have purposed to stay connected to my boys has, indeed, worked.  Mostly, I’m convinced that God has just been gracious and made up for my lack.

And yes, I’ve read them the Bible at night.  And I pray over their bed.  And I’ve had long conversations with them (longer than they prefer, trust me) to speak destiny and love into their heart and all the other good stuff moms do that is important.  But you know what I’ve found?

It’s not that hard for teen boys to stay connected to their moms.  A lot of simple, everyday things help a lot, with that, too.

And so, if I may, my humble offering of the fun, crazy, hard and most rewarding things I have done and continue to do as my boys grow up.

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~Let them be silly, sometimes.  Boys will eventually be men that have jobs and bills and families they are responsible for and lots of other heavy things on their backs.  For now, let them think standing in the snow in a bathing suit flexing for a picture is awesome and grossing you out by giving you sweaty hugs after ball practice is a-ok with you. (Protest, even, for a little extra dramatic measure, which they will love.) Let them get by with some boy bathroom humor that grosses you out. They are born with this innate male need to express, for whatever crazy reason.  It’s simple: just, for a few minutes in the car or wherever you are when it comes up, pretend to lose your hearing.

~Care about their interests, which means attentiveness not endurance.  Trust me, they can tell the difference.  When they tell you about how sick a pair of shoes is? Know that sick means amazing and nod your head in agreement.  They will love you for it.  When they have a ball game? Move heaven and earth to be there, even if you can’t stand baseball and don’t understand the sport.  Your job is to become an expert on your child and what they love, you love too, just because they do.

~Force them to take ridiculous selfies with you.  They will moan and complain, but they will secretly love you for wanting a picture with them.  Also? It will prepare them for all the selfies their girlfriend will make them do in the future. :)

~Let them have the last bite.  Like, that last bite of your favorite cheesecake in all the world–the one with the strawberry sauce dripping gloriously all over it.  The last taste of heaven before you start that diet.  Yep, that one.  They won’t forget that mom did that for them.  Their wife, should they have one in the future, will love them, but even she may not give them that last bite.

~Tuck them into bed at night, even when they are huge and tower over you.  They will act like it’s unnecessary at the time, but when they ask you unexpectedly if you are going to that one night you almost forget, you will know it’s more important to them than they think.

~Have special nicknames for them that are playful and silly.  Call them by those names like crazy when you are at home, but never say them in front of their friends.  This is the unspoken rule of boys and moms that, when respected, helps cute mommy nicknames live on forever.

~Remind them of moments of awesome they did when they were little.  Pull out a picture and tell them the coordinating story.  Boys are just miniature men that need to be complimented and appreciated in order to feel fulfilled.

~Let their dad be the hero.  Learn to love them in the background and seize moments but not need to be #1. Yes, even though you changed the diapers.  Even though you wash the smelly clothes and wipe more noses and give more kisses and run their cleats up to the ball field numerous times when they leave them.  Even though.  You will win when their dad is more important.

Staying connected to our boys is a sign we have endured the mommy challenge of being different in almost every way, but understanding of the great needs and loves of their young male heart.

What both of us want.

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These things Lisa Whittle loves most: her husband, her children (3, including 2 boys), her fluffy dog who sits faithfully under her desk while she writes, and her Jesus who has made her life well. She’s authored 3 books, including her latest, {w}hole, and will release her 4th in August 2014. You can find her at www.lisawhittle.com, where she blogs less than she should, but when she does, hopes to start honest conversation.

 

This post is a part of our series on building relationship with our teen sons.  Click here to read them all.

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Locker Room Lessons: Teachable Moments from the World of Sports

Even as an upper elementary age girl, I was a fan of Sportscenter. Yep, I’m a girl who loves her Sportscenter. Whether it’s early morning or late night, I count on getting my sports news fix each day and Sportscenter is just the best place for that. Plus, they’re usually pretty funny.

Football is my favorite, but I’ve always been drawn to the world of sports in general. While most people are idolizing sports stars, I love the stories. I love the human interest. I love the lessons we can learn from the very public stage of college and professional sports.

I don’t think it was a coincidence that God put this love of sports in me and then gave me three boys. I know not all boys are interested in sports, but mine are, and we’ve had many great life and faith discussions that began with watching a football game or tennis match together.

And that’s led me to this. I haven’t written much here at The MOB Society because I wasn’t quite sure what to say, honestly. I’m still in the early years of raising boys – they are 8, 6, and 2 – and I don’t have a whole lot of wisdom to share at this point. The MOB Society is a place I come to learn and grown in my role as a boy mom.

He’s calling me now to share what’s on my heart – lessons on life and faith inspired by the world of sports. Locker Room Lessons.

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Maybe your boy is crazy about sports and you are not. Maybe you both love sports but you’re not sure how to connect this love with God. I just know I love connecting sports and faith and I want to share those connections with you. It may seem trivial. I almost said to God, “Nobody will care about this.” But He reminded me of this verse…

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NLT

Who am I to say that God can’t use sports to help us raise godly men? I’m learning that wild obedience is what God asks of me, and sometimes that means taking that spark He has put in you and letting it burn bright whether anybody else needs that fire or not.

Each Tuesday, I’ll be talking about God and life and sports right here in the Locker Room Lessons series. I’m praying it will be a connecting point for you and your son. And I’m praying He will draw you both closer to Him through it.

What sports does your son enjoy watching?

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!

Have you seen our series this month?  It’s on building a relationship with your teen son.  If you liked this post, head on over here for more quality content.

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Who is The MOB Society?

We’re excited to announce a very special series for the month of August!

Each day this month, starting Monday, you’ll have the opportunity to meet one of our writers via a short video clip. They’ll share a bit about who they are, and what their heart is for the MOB Society. We can’t wait to show them off!

To make sure you get them all, go ahead and subscribe to the blog! It’s free! And when you do, you’ll receive a free copy of our satirical resource on raising boys called, How NOT to Raise a Godly Man. We hope you enjoy and look forward to introducing you to our amazing team this month!

 

My Not-So-Pinterest Life (Post and Giveaway by Emily T. Wierenga)

The cookie jar is empty.

The laundry, piled six loads high on the dryer and the boys won’t sit through homeschool. I didn’t sleep well last night and I haven’t had my coffee and all I can think about is needing to make those cookies. Because what kind of mother doesn’t have cookies in her cookie jar?

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I am constantly failing Pinterest’s Martha Stewart standards. I don’t have a chalkboard with tonight’s menu on it — goodness, I don’t even have meat thawing, and it’s day-old Chinese for lunch. Again.

I’m rushing the boys, yelling, taking my pent-up mother-guilt on them, forgetting that home is not a casserole or color-coded towels or clean toilets.

Home is mommy’s arms, is Daddy wrestling with his sons on the floor, is a stack of board books piled precarious on the coffee table because your two-year-old is addicted to building towers.

I don’t have to be a great housewife in order to make a home. It’s not about my casseroles or my manicured lawns; it’s about my state of heart, and unless I am filled with peace and joy, my home will feel distant and cold.

Home is sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor and pulling your boys to you with tears in your eyes and begging them to forgive you for getting stressed out over an empty cookie jar.

Because your life is beautifully full.

And you sit there for a while, a tangle of arms and hearts.

It’s taken me 33 years to find this place with the broken doorbell and the dirty door mat. I traveled the globe searching for it. Because we’re all, deep down, searching for our Father’s house—our eternal dwelling.

Home is a place for the broken to break bread. And in my traveling I learned the comfort of a cooked meal, of a welcome mat at the door, of family’s open arms, and when my Mum got sick with brain cancer I returned to take care of her and found God at her bedside. In the eyes of a woman who homeschooled me, who baked bread every week, who made home for me.

How about you friends? Do you feel the pressure to keep your cookie jars filled, your floors squeaky clean, your laundry neatly folded and put away? Can I say something to you, if you do?

Stop! Stop, and rest. Because friend?

You are more than your clean floors. You are more than your folded laundry or your stocked shelves. You are more than the role of Mom or Homemaker or Wife. You are a woman. You are an intricately designed creation woven in your mother’s womb, whose hairs are counted by the Maker of the Universe. You are loved.

Our lives are not Pinnable. They’re messy, with peanut-butter fingerprints and toy cars and runny noses. And you know what? They’re perfect.

Because in the end, it’s the family that makes the picture, not the frame.

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I am excited to give away a copy of my newly-released memoir, today. Just leave a comment here on the blog to win.

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I’m also giving away a FREE e-book to anyone who orders Atlas Girl. Just order HERE, and send a receipt to: atlasgirlbookreceipt@gmail.com, and you’ll receive A House That God Built: 7 Essentials to Writing Inspirational Memoir – an absolutely FREE e-book co-authored by myself and editor/memoir teacher Mick Silva.

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All proceeds from Atlas Girl are benefitting The Lulu Tree, a non-profit dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers.

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Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including the memoir,Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.