When our kids were little I read every parenting book I could get my hands on. I took classes, went to seminars and looked to friends for wisdom, all in the hopes of doing this mothering thing the best I could. I have found that as the kids grow up, we don’t seek out as much guidance as we did in the younger years and really we need positive tactics now more than ever.
One lady has been influential in guiding my parenting since we met back in the preschool days in California. Susie Walton is a mother of four grown sons and teaches her own curriculum, “The Joy of Parenting” to families live and online. Susie is also the author of the book, “Key to Personal Freedom: How Myths Affect Our Family Lives.”
I don’t believe we should ever stop learning or growing in any aspect of our life- especially in our role of parenting. Even when the kids are taller than us and they seem to be on a nice road to independence- We have to stay in the game.
When I read in Susie’s email newsletter that she was doing a class on the Joy of Parenting Teens at Indigo Village in Encinitas, CA I knew I needed to be there. It had been along time since I invested in some parenting wisdom and was ready to receive some advice on dealing with my foursome at this next stage.
I highly recommend everything that Susie does because of her humorous, down to earth and honest approach to her parenting advice. You will laugh, you will relate and you will want to do better!
4 things I took away from Susie’s Joy of Parenting Teens course
1. It’s up to me to keep the JOY alive
It’s up to us adults to maintain the joy and fun in parenting. Yes, it may feel tougher with each passing day, but it’s not impossible. We cannot give up, even if we feel like it some days. The attitudes, the verbal abuse and all the ups and downs of parenting teens shall pass. They may act like they don’t want us around, but it’s crucial to find ways to still connect with them. Too many times we let our kids behavior measure our state of happiness. Remember to respond not react!
Tip: Make a list of ten things that make you happy. Have your teen do the same and see if you have anything that crosses over and work to connect over that shared joy.
2. Develop our teens self management skills
Our goal in parenting should be to set our kids up to solely manage all aspects of their lives by the time they leave our nest. In our home, we have never hovered over our kids schoolwork and in return we have four independent workers. Most days I can’t tell you what they are even working on honestly and I don’t check their grades online. They simply do what they have to do and overall they do it well. Hallelujah!
We sent the kids to sleep away summer camp in July to help further their self management skills, as it can sometimes be tough to do under our constant supervision. Susie said that we need to stop putting our kids to bed at night and let them start managing bedtime themselves. This scares me! But, it’s true- we will not be there in college telling them to head to bed. They need to know what it feels like to manage their own sleep under our roof. This will be a tough one for us to let go of, as we do like to get our kids to bed at a decent time as we know how important sleep is for their overall well being. Our plan is to start letting them navigate their sleep on the weekends and we’ll see how that goes.
3. Say yes a little more
I’m a no Mom. I find that I say no to my kids way more than I say yes. Sometimes I don’t feel like shuttling them around or paying for yet another outing with friends. Susie said when her boys left home, she’d wished she had said yes a little more. She wished she’d driven them to one more activity with their friends.
There’s no denying how important friendships are in these teenage years. I love our kids friends too, so I might as well jump in and play along. This one piece of advice was really eye opening for me. Today when the boys asked if they could meet friends for open skate at the ice rink, I not only said yes, but I offered to drive them all there and home too. It felt good to be the yes Mom- for today anyway!
4. Involve the kids in the meal planning
How many times do you get the “not this again” response when you serve your homemade dinners? Do these kids not realize that I’d really rather be doing anything but feeding people every night of my life? Ok, so what if I make the same dish every week? It’s tough on a Momma to be in charge of all the meal preparations day in and day out.
Have a family meeting and have the kids come up with meals that they would like to have. Hard to complain about a meal if you picked it! Good idea! Another friend, Kelly, in Orange County gave me this sheet that she uses with her family! It helps us be more intentional in our planning.
Thanks Susie for helping me relax along this journey of motherhood. You’re so right that This Too Shall Pass and I want to squeeze as much joy out of every day as possible!