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Whew, teenagers. I actually love teenagers and I think it’s such a special time of motherhood but it’s definitely a time of testing for both you and the teen. In this episode, I talk about the unique challenges of this phase and how you can embrace it without losing your mind.
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Today, we’re going to be talking about life with teenagers. So last week we talked about life with littles. Today, Life with teenagers. Next week, life with young adults. So full disclosure. I don’t have a teenager yet, but I coach women all the time on there teenagers and I have a teenager. So I know a few things about teenagers. My oldest daughter is actually 12 and a half. So I feel like I’m getting a little bit of that and a good friend of mine. And I spent a lot of time with her. Children have two teenagers and young adults. I get to kind of see what their family looks like. On a near daily basis.
And like I mentioned, in the last episode, it’s really important for you to understand. What phase of parenting you’re in and some of you have wide families and you’re doing multiple phases at the same time. But to tell yourself the truth about the phase that you’re in with a particular kiddo or a few kiddos came. And just to acknowledge what is commonly difficult about that phase because your brain, when it encounters difficulties, most of the time, we’ll just make it seem like it’s your fault. Something’s wrong with you. You’re really broken. You’re terrible at this. Right. Instead of just being like, oh, we have teenagers, these are pretty common teenager things.
So one of the big things about teenagers. Is that the hormones are changing in their bodies. And we just kind of forget, we know this is true, but we just forget all the time. Because you can’t see, I wish their skin turned green. I wish their skin turned green and then slowly changed back to their regular color as the hormone shift stopped. But it doesn’t. So we just see them. And we can’t tell. On the outside they’re going through these hormonal changes, but you, my friend, we are well-acquainted. With hormonal changes. Okay. You experienced hormonal changes around your cycle. And so we usually are a slightly different version of ourselves for a couple of days. Around our period. And then we experience huge hormonal changes when we’re pregnant. So there’s hormonal changes while we’re pregnant. And then there’s big hormonal changes after we have the baby. And another round of hormonal changes when we wean the baby. And it just messes with who we are. It messes with our mind a little bit and we show up. Not as our real selves or as are our calm cells or normal selves. We’re just like a slightly distorted version of ourselves. When we’re going through hormonal changes, I imagine something similar happens around menopause.
And so that’s what these kiddos are going through, but like for three years, actually don’t know how long all of that takes, but just years, not three days, my friend. Not the length of a pregnancy. It’s years that their body is adjusting. And then these kinds of waves of feelings come over them or things feel really big and really strong. And we just forget. And because we forget. Our brain starts telling us a story. That this behavior that we see in front of us is going to be indicative of something very big and scary in the future. Right. And so your brain. See smoke. And goes, this is a house fire. But the truth is. Your teenager is going through. Hormonal changes are a slightly funky version of themselves right now. And it probably doesn’t. Predict very accurately, how the future is going to be. This is more of a Bert toast situation. Okay. Now it doesn’t mean everything is completely fine. Maybe they’re struggling socially. Maybe they’re struggling to manage their time. Maybe they need to learn how to React to you with more charity. I mean, there might be lessons, but we look at them and then we just kind of predict like prison. Or a terrible life or inability to get a job.
Can we just tell ourselves terrible stories about the future based on the behavior of the teenager, instead of just being like, oh, you know how you are kind of not nice to your husband once a month. Like that’s what’s going on with this kid right now. This is not who this kid is it’s just, they feel weird in their skin. And they’re showing up differently. Then who they are in their core. I actually really love teenagers. I don’t have a negative opinion of them. I think I was a really great teenager. I think teenagers mean, well, I think they’re really intelligent. I think they make some really dumb choices sometimes. But who they are is intelligent and loving and capable. And I just have a lot of compassion for how weird it is when hormones take over your body. It’s like an out of body experience, right? Like, and we’ve all done this when we were pregnant or you kind of float outside yourself and you’re like, girl, you look crazy pants right now. What is wrong with you? You are freaking out over it. The paint color of the nursery. Right. And. So just remind yourself, oh, I forgot. Teenagers are experiencing hormonal changes and that really sucks. It sucks to feel a little out of control over how you feel. And you are probably familiar with that feeling and you don’t even have to have this conversation with your teenager probably don’t. They don’t want to hear it from you, but you can just drop into compassion for them while you’re watching them be weird.
Because they are good. They’re intelligent. They’re capable and it just might be a squirrely day or week for them and your job is just to be there and to love them through that. And I think that’s probably the hardest with anger. Because anger. Is a violent response. And so while you’re trying to shepherd their little hearts, If you’ve got particularly like a big boy and he’s angry and he likes, just even just raising his hands and his voice. It’s just so hard to stay in loving mom mode because your body just actually perceives. Physical danger. Like violin, danger, even feed just never touches you. Your brain is just like, whoa. This is really scary. And so it’s really easy from that place to act. In a fight or flight state where we’re screaming at them. We’re shaming them. We’re doing whatever we can get them to calm down and look smaller and not look dangerous. We’re cold, shouldering them and withdrawing. Or we’re fawning all over them. I know it’s not really this, but it’s kind of like, do you want a pony? I’ll buy you a pony. Like just notice when you have all bought you a pony energy. You’re probably in a stress response.
And that might be true. I don’t know because I don’t have teenagers. If there’s another version where the kids are really sad. And it also creates that same stress response, but I think anger presents as violence and we just have a fight or flight response to that. Then you’re going to judge yourself for being a really terrible mom. So the whole point of this series is that we just acknowledge the common problems in a particular phase of parenting. So hormonal changes and then. Anger. Which looks like violence. So then we have no great reactions to that, Okay.
The next thing about having teenagers is. I heard this said once that God really designed. Teenagers want to leave their family. Because like, if you think about the 12 tribes of Israel, They often needed to leave their family and go to a different tribe to marry someone else. And so there’s this kind of unrest feeling that happens with teenagers that signals to them like, Hey. It’s time for you. To go be your own person to be independent. And really biologically to go find a spouse and start a family and have babies. And really when life expectancy was so low. That’s why this begins to happen at 13, 14, 15. ’cause they just, people just used to get married so much younger because they used to die so much earlier. And so now, and I was just explaining this to my 12 year old, the other day now in our modern society. They’re not supposed to get married at 13, 14, and 15. Don’t do that. You guys. And yet. That process, that desire for independence and to kind of break off from the family and to establish themselves as their own person begins to happen at that age. So it’s happening when they’re in the house. Potentially for five to seven years while they’re in the house.
And so I was explaining to my daughter. That’s totally normal. We just need to find ways for you to exercise that, to meet your independence. In a way that fits in with the family. And I said, you know, some great examples of that are, you know, dressing the way that you want to dress or dying your hair blue or checking out different forms of music and trying to decide what kind of music you want. And trying on different hobbies, like there’s ways that you can begin to feel like you’re establishing yourself as your own person. Without obviously leaving the house and getting married at 15. Hey. And then when your prefrontal cortex forms, usually girls 2223 boys, 24, 25. And you’ve had that. You know, you’ve met your spouse. You’ve had that baby. This was back in the time of Israel with the tribes. When you come back to your family, you have a deep desire to come back into your family unit. And to do life with your family. And so I just want you to know, biologically and religiously, this is what’s going on. For everyone. And it’s just not a problem, but it’s weird because it’s misaligned with the random ages.
We’ve decided things will happen. In our modern culture. And so will we, we have decided, and I think it was a good decision. Please don’t get married and have babies before 18. Right. But at 18, you’re an adult move out. You know, get a job, go to college, those kinds of things. We’ve kind of arbitrarily chosen that. But when you look at our biology and what we did for, you know, hundreds of years, You know, they were becoming adults at a much younger age. And speaking to that, I want you to know that your teenagers are incredibly capable. Right. They can do. A lot. And I don’t think that we should put too much on their plate, like let’s check in with them, but I think sometimes. We underestimate them when they really want something. To sink their teeth into when they really want to challenge.
And understanding. That your sweet little girl and your sweet little boy. The hormones come and their brain starts running a program that says you need to start exerting your independence and getting ready to leave this house and meet someone and get married. And then that begins to happen around 13. Well, just knowing that will help you look at this child and be like, oh, that’s what they’re going through. That is normal. It doesn’t mean that living through it with them isn’t challenging. Right. But for the most part, nothing is wrong with them. Nothing is wrong with you. Okay. And when I say for the most part. I think that we want to look out for things like depression, things like bullying. Like there are some extra things that are happening. I think on top of regular teenage struggles. And so we just kind of want to be attuned to them and look for signs of, Hey, is this regular teen stuff? Or is it a little extra? And I think Facebook groups are so great for that floating, like, Hey, does this seem normal? And I see that a lot. In Facebook groups. Particularly around teenage friendships or romances, like, do we let them hang out? Do we let them hold hands? You know, you can go to these Catholic groups and, and find out like, what is pretty normal.
And we don’t all have to agree on everything. But, you know, what is the difference between teenage moodiness and depression and well, this kid probably needs some extra help, Okay. And the last thing I want to say about teenagers is that when you’re in the middle of it, probably with some other kids, In addition to the teenager. For a long time. We tell ourselves we have kids until 18. Hey. But what I have seen is that we barely get them until 16. And it doesn’t mean that we don’t get to hang out with them and have family dinner and have special moments with them. But, by 16 friends, it became very, very important. And they can drive. And they’re out of the house more.
And. I want you just to soak up. That 13 to 16 year old time. Because that’s really the time. Those are kind of the last. Yours where you’re just together a lot. A lot. Now I have seen moms have amazing relationships with their 16, 17, 18, 19 year old kids. But again, because of biology, it is really normal for them. Too. Go spend time. Doing other things. And Jordan Peterson talks about this. He talks about the ages where. The parents are the primary influence and then it shifts and then their friend circle is the primary influence. And just also knowing that that is normal. And you know, I like to be careful saying slow down and enjoy this time. You’re going to miss it. This is just a slightly different version of that though, which is you probably think you have more time than you really do.
And you know, back that timeline up a little bit and just like 12 to 16, even. She’s like really? Sit with them, spend time with them. Stay up with them a little bit. You’re not going to regret it. I think about that time. Because then they’re 16 hanging out with her friends and it’s just a blink of an eye. And then they’re adults. And we’re going to talk about it. Parenting young adults in the next episode. Love yourself through parenting teens. It’s new to you too. If it’s the first one. I think it feels kind of new every time because every teenager is a little bit different. But just know that there are these things that are happening and they’re real hormonal changes. Biological changes. And it doesn’t mean anything wrong with the kiddo and it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. And then when you can just tell yourself the truth about what’s happening, you’ll drop into acceptance and be a much better problem solver. Okay.
All right, mamas. I hope those of you with teenagers feel helpful. I love you. I’m praying for you. Have a blessed day.