Yesterday I shared what Lisa Whelchel had to say about raising little ones. Her kids are all grown up now (her youngest just graduated), and because I really wanted to know for my own sake (and for yours too of course), I decided to ask her about raising teens.
Our oldest son just became a teenager. We’re enjoying this “new season of life” as we learn to raise a teen and also feel like we have no idea what we’re doing (much like we didn’t have any idea what we were doing when we started raising babies!). You had three teenagers all at once. What were some of the joys and challenges you faced as you raised your teens, and what advice might you give to parents on this journey?
As your kids become teenagers, you really have to start loosening the grip you have…you can’t control them like you did with they were seven and eight years old. It’s natural for them to try to separate themselves from you and experiment with life as they figure out who they are.
This is hard because as a parent, you see the bigger picture and you want to protect them from heartache. But over-protecting can stifle what they are learning. You need to be open handed. You need to tell yourself, “I have been the parent, I have taught them well. Now I need to trust God to let them use what I’ve taught them as they grow into adulthood.”
Tell me a little bit about your kids now that they are young adults. What are some of the great qualities you see in them – what do you love about your kids?
I’ll start with my youngest, Clancy. I really just enjoy talking to her. We love to have coffee together in the mornings and just talk. She’s just wonderful and I just enjoy her so much.
Haven is my older daughter. I admire her so much. She is amazing at seeing the big picture. She plans margins in her life, which shows wisdom beyond her years.
Tucker was the hardest to raise, yet he’s who I’ve learned the most from and I respect him so much. He’s honest about everything and not a pretender. I had a hard time with that as he was growing up because that could sometimes come across in him as “not being a good boy”. I’m glad I didn’t snuff that out of him. He’s creative…not a rule follower.
I love how although I am the parent, I am able to learn so much from my kids.
Laura’s (very few) follow-up thoughts (as I have only been the parent of a teenager for approximately 39 days):
I am really beginning to understand the idea of “loosening the grip” as I’m watching Asa naturally work his way toward more independence. Matt and I feel like our biggest job now is to walk alongside and guide him as he grows into adulthood.
That, and pray for God to guide us as we walk a path we’ve never walked before. ;)