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Cheryl Donely

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parenting go with your gut

Parents, when you don’t know, go with your gut…

(Inside: Parenting is hard, but go with your gut. One of the most powerful resources we have is that pressing on our heart that knows the next step.)

In parenting, go with your gut

I think we know what we’re doing more than we give ourselves credit for.
 
I know, it’s hard to discern when to push and pull back – that’s the big question in parenting.
 
But our insides often know which direction our family needs to go…
 

The waitress clicked the fresh parmesan cheese over the mixture of lettuce, tomatoes, and black olives.

I sunk my teeth in garlic bread smothered with butter. My son looked up from his menu as he finished ordering. Because the fridge had exhaled its last cold breath, and the repairman couldn’t come until Monday, my family was tucked into a booth at Olive Garden.
 
We were discussing favorite childhood memories.
 
“I loved reading, especially the Harry Potter books,” said my high school junior.
 
“All the time playing outside with the neighborhood kids was fun,” my middle schooler answered.
 
“I like doing well in school,” my sophomore added.
 
Then, he went on, “Also, this year’s soccer season has been my favorite.”
 
That moment felt sacred, like a validation that play and unbridled joy had moved through our home weaving picturesque memories for my children.
 

But, that’s not the whole story. For each one of their favorites, there was a fight to get there.

My 17yo hated reading from kindergarten through 1st grade. It wasn’t until his teacher had a good hard talk with us about how he couldn’t read that we woke up. And working at home with him was painful: we all ended up in tears, and it had nothing to do with the green eggs and ham.
 
My three sons would always choose screens over playing outside. Despite loud objections, I would kick them out the door to find a neighborhood friend.
 

My 15yo didn’t like middle school, especially the schoolwork that he refused to complete.

We tried about twenty different angles to spark a better educational experience until we found a “different way to communicate.” A light bulb turned on and he started completing his work independently, not exactly loving it, but not despising it either.
Want to learn how my teenage son and I better learned to communicate? Read more in the description.
And my son had quit club soccer (burnt out) but made the high school team. But he tried out only after I reminded him that he’s a happier person when he’s in an activity and that he had to choose something. He went through the high school website, said “no” to 79 of the options, and landed back on soccer with a reluctant, “I guess.”
 
It’s so hard to discern when to pull back and when to push.
 
And in each of those moments, I had my doubts.
 

But my inner voice told me this: my husband and I know these boys better than anyone else. We held them in our arms when they were football size. We’ve fed them, cared for them, wiped away their tears, watched them grow, and loved them with every ounce of our being. With close observation and reflection, we’ve seen their personalities unfold and tried to stay in tune with their needs.

We also know they must have opportunities to make their own choices so they can mature. But each of those moments didn’t feel like “choice situations.” Because we could see the big picture clearer than our kids…
 
Reading would make our son’s life easier.
 
Playing outside would grow friendships.
 
Learning to get organized in school would build confidence.
 
Being involved in a cocurricular activity would bring fun.
 

Kids need their parents.

They need the adults in their lives who love them more than anyone else and will put time into reflecting on what they need to learn, how they need to grow, and what they crave. Then guide them in that direction with lots of explanations, relationship-building, grace, and care. Kids need our lived-and-learned wisdom wrapped in love and tenderness.

 

We’re not going to conquer every raising-kids moment – that’s like trying to nail jelly to a wall.

There are certainly times when I’ve stepped into my kids’ lives, and really should’ve just taken the dog on a walk. But, not in the examples my kids were telling me around the restaurant table.
 
The validation felt good. It reminded me that our inner voice very often knows the next best steps.
 
Parents, we do know what we are doing.
 
We really do.
 
So listen to your gut with confidence.

In parenting, go with your gut. These conversations and more when you join this community of moms raising tweens and teens.

You just dropped your kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community below.

gifts for moms
In parenting, go with your gut – join our community of moms learning to listen to our hearts here.

In parenting, go with your gut.
Read about these topics and more…

My two oldest sons are in high school now, and I’m still in a coma because of it. Even though I’ve taught high school for over two decades, I’m confused as to how I’m actually old enough to be a parent of a high schooler. 

Teaching high schoolers has always been a passion of mine, but now parenting them is as well. I could research, write, and talk about this topic until eternity. I hope you are encouraged by some of my articles.

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TEENS
You Can’t Fix Your Struggling Teens’ Problems, But You Can Do This One Powerful Thing


COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR TWEEN/TEEN
How to Get Your Teen/Teen to Their “Aha Moment”
400+ Conversation Starters for Families of Teens

PARENTING
Dear Kids – Know the Difference Between “Chores” and “Maintenance”
Your Teen’s Maddening Behavior is Age-Appropriate and Here’s Hope
Raising Tweens and Teens – THIS is what it looks like…

 

mom t-shirts

Mom Who Works so Hard, You Need a Fun Shirt

(Inside: Fun mom t-shirt ideas. I’ve always been a shirt collector: vacations, teams, schools, and mom t-shirts. I love clothes that are cute and comfy.)

**This blog post contains affiliate links.**

The best part of my day is getting home from work and seeing my family.

The second best part is changing into comfy clothes.

Yoga sweatpants.

Thick, comfy socks.

And a cute t-shirt or sweatshirt that fits just right.

There’s just something about putting on warm, soft clothes that I think are at least somewhat-stylish (I’m not going for perfect) that helps me transition from work-mode to mom-mode. It’s a routine I always look forward to; the little things really do matter.

Normally, I have trouble spending money on myself. Life is so expensive, I find myself often paying for something bigger, like an alto sax so my kid can march in the band, and then placing the clearance-priced pair of yoga pants back on the rack because $9.99 at Target is too much to spend on me.

 

But, I just really enjoy my comfy mom t-shirts and wear them all the time. Because of that, my collection of mom t-shirts is growing, and I’m not even sorry. 

It is just an area that I will let myself spend money on. 

Hardworking momma, you also deserve to have those routines that are bright spots on your day: a cup of coffee, music relaxing you as your drive home, or comfy clothes that wrap their arms around you and remind you that your role as a mom is the best ever.

These are the current mom t-shirts I have my eye on. I’m making a list, checking in twice, gonna refresh my wardrobe a little. I thought you might what too, as well…

Hands down this MAMA shirts is my favorite. So simple and classic. I love pink, but there are myriads of colors to choose that will match anything. This one I could get away with wearing at work with dress pants and a sweater. Or for just my at-home joy. Yup – it’s at the top of my wish list.   

Where was this shirt when I was pregnant? Tacos and babies. Two of my favorite things. If you’re a click younger than me and still in this phase, announce to the world that you’re a mama-to-be with these clever Eating Tacos for Two t-shirts. I’m remembering this cute tee for my next baby shower. Because, again, where was this shirt when I was pregnant?

Where my girl moms at? Sport this fun Girl Mom/Mama t-shirt any day of the week. Your daughters are sure to love seeing your girl mom pride. This tee will easily become a staple in your wardrobe. 

As a mama of 3 incredible boys, I have a big ol’ soft spot in my heart for any boy mom t-shirt.  This Life is Better with my Boys tee hits home. It’s the message that I want my boys to hear, and the message that I need to hear on the best days and the hard days. ‘Tis true. Life is most definitely better with my boys.   

Doesn’t parenthood sometimes feel like you’re in the trenches? These camouflage Mom Life tees give off a fun vibe with the right amount of “Mom life requires hard work” on the side. The best thing about this shirt?  It comes with a matching camouflage Kid Life t-shirt that works for both a son or a daughter. Camouflage has always been one of my favorite designs to wear – it always hits the mark.

I loved sports growing up. It was a big part of my high school and college experience, so I wanted to share that side of myself with my sons. I’m so glad they like sports too. They don’t have to be top athletes on the top teams, I just love seeing them moving and having fun. So, yes, a sports mom tee is, of course, going to make it onto my list. Especially this basketball mom shirt – it’s perfect. When’s Christmas?

We’ve all been there.  Those days that feel a little bit out of control.  he days the jug of milk gets tipped, the kids can’t get along, and we’re running late. The days where This is my Circus, These are my Monkeys seem to ring a little extra true.  But even in those days, we can be so thankful for our little monkeys that we get to call ours.  

I remember thinking I was tired before I had kids.  Then I had kids. Yeah, I was NOT actualy tired before. This #momlife tee is cute and accurate and goes with anything in your closet. Yup, I like it.

If there’s one t-shirt that states the truth more than this, I need to see it. Chaos coordinator is a badge of honor for the mamas of the world.  We hold so many of the THINGS together.  Appointments, birthdays, piano recitals, switching the laundry, and remembering the last time the pre-teen showered to name a few. This tee is perfect for all moms.

It all comes back to this.  Whether you have one kiddo or ten. Whether you carried your child or fostered your child or adopted your child, this Blessed Mama t-shirt sums it up.  In the good and bad, the happy and hard, the highs and lows, you have the privilege of pouring your life into another life. No person has as much influence on your child as you, Mama (and Dad).  Let’s not forget that you truly are one blessed mama. 

Shopping is fun. Here are some more ideas for families raising big kids…

Best Booklist for High School Teenagers

Best Booklist for Middle School Tweens

Inspirational Books Moms will Love to Read

Gift Ideas for Moms of Tweens and Teens (Great for Mother’s Day!)

Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys

Gift Ideas for Teenage Girls

mom t-shirts

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens

You just dropped your kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community below. 

 

gifts for moms
kindness teens

7 Things About Kindness Teens Need to Know

(Inside: Growing kindness in teens is important. We know in the long run it’ll make them happier humans. We need to teach our teens these 7 things about kindness. Read on…)

As a family, I don’t think we mean not to be kind.

Life just happens.

Parents and kids can take each other “as their safe place” for granted. We’ve kept our emotions simmering under the surface all day, and when we walk through the door, things start bubbling over. 

The hurried bowl of cereal with small hoops of Cheerios littering the counter is left not because our teens are trying to be disrespectful, they’re just trying to make the bus.

Words exhale irritation because our kids’ grade book clearly says the due date of the paper, and they needed to have it done – not be in their rooms laughing at YouTube shorts, which we’ve told them, a million times and then some more.

Interactions are edgy because between work and dinner and school and activities, we’re just hoping to get to the correct soccer field with the right jersey somewhat on time and…for.the.love.just.grab.your.cleats.and.let’s.go.

Naturally-born-with-grumpy-dispositions consistently ping-pong around the house. It’s not that our loved ones are trying to be short-tempered, they just don’t fully see how they come across.

But we strive…

We continually come back together…

To pay attention to this.

If kindness is important to our family, it doesn’t just happen. We have to work at it as a team to weave these seven principles into our understanding of what kindness is and how we can create a home that nourishes each other through it.

Parents.

Teens.

We need to know that…

1. Self-kindness is important.

The God who spoke the universe into existence and says things such as he formed you purposefully in the womb (Psalm 139:13), knows every hair on your head (Luke 12:7), loves you more than you can fathom (Ephesian 3:18), and walks with you every day (Hebrews 13:5) did not create you to talk unkindly to yourself. 

We are His creation. His work of art. His masterpiece. 

Believe that. With hearts-open-wide acceptance. 

Then treat one of God’s most cherished creations (yourself) with the type of care and love He’d want you to. And when you’re kind to yourself, it’s often easier to let that overflow as kindness to others.

kindness teens
Get the kindness calendar HERE.

2. Sometimes you just have to fake it to you make it.

You don’t have to feel like being kind to actually be kind. Sometimes (lots of times), you just have to predetermine you will choose kindness, even when it’s tough. 

In hard situations, start small. Say one kind word. Then another. Do a thoughtful action. Then repeat. It builds. 

Then, ironically, kindness to others often soothes your own heart. One little step at a time, you just might notice your mood lifts. Life is weird like that.

3. Picking up and contributing around the house is one of the kindest things you can do for each other.

Life is busy and tripping over other people’s shoes sometimes feels like people not respecting that you are walking through that hallway too. Pick up and take care of your own stuff and see how that changes the dynamic of the home for the better.

4. Words of affirmation are important.

Everyone needs words of affirmation. Everyone. We need to be noticed for how we try and who we are. Notice. Say kind words. Text nice things. Your words hold power.

5. Know that kindness looks different to everyone.

Teachers love when student keep their phones away and engage in the lessons. Nothing makes a parent feel like a million bucks more than a long hug and genuine thank you. Being the cool sibling, the one who asks about her day and listens to her talk just might be how a sister feels loved. Watching the fingers over the guitar strings and listening to the sound floating across the room is the quality time the brother craves. That funny meme that popped up on your phone is the humor your friend needs texted to him. Kindness is noticing others and reaching out with care.

6. You help create the kind of environment that you want to live in.

Everyone in the family matters. If we want to come home to a kind place, we each need to be kind. Word by word, action by action – the health of the home depends on our daily individual decisions. But then, a beautiful thing happens. Slowly, a kinder atmosphere emerges, blanketing our home with a little more softness. And we did that together: helped create the kind of nourishing home each family member wants to come home to.

7. You don’t regret being kind.

It makes life so much harder for ourselves (and our loved ones)  to use harsh words, then have to eat some serious humble pie and apologize later. That we regret. However, choosing not to knee-jerk react. Instead, to take a breath, take a moment to calm down and think, and respond with wisdom, that’s the type of people we want to be. Kindness upfront is something we just won’t regret.

Life is busy.

With constant moving variables.

kindness teens
Get the kindness calendar HERE.

And in the hustle, we don’t mean to be unkind.

But we sometimes are.

We’re human.

So we pause.

We remind ourselves what kindness looks like. 

Make intentional choices. 

And move forward knowing that we’ll never be a family that’s flawless. The pursuit of perfection is impossible. But we can work together to be kind. So we’ll do that. We’ll be a family that’s kind to each other.

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens

You just dropped your kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community below. 

kindness teens

Read more in the Raising Tweens and Teens series…

My two oldest sons are in high school now, and I’m still in a coma because of it. Even though I’ve taught high school for over two decades, I’m confused as to how I’m actually old enough to be a parent of a high schooler. 

Teaching high schoolers has always been a passion of mine, but now parenting them is as well. I could research, write, and talk about this topic until eternity. I hope you are encouraged by some of my articles.

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TEENS
You Can’t Fix Your Struggling Teens’ Problems, But You Can Do This One Powerful Thing

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR TWEEN/TEEN
How to Get Your Teen/Teen to Their “Aha Moment”
How to Get Your Tween/Teenage Son to Open Up to You
400+ Conversation Starters for Families of Teens

PARENTING
Dear Kids – Know the Difference Between “Chores” and “Maintenance”
To the Mom of a High School Freshman
Your Teen’s Maddening Behavior is Age-Appropriate and Here’s Hope
Raising Tweens and Teens – THIS is what it looks like…

 

teens kindness
Get the kindness calendar HERE.
Watching Kids Grow Up

We NEED the Pain from Watching Kids Grow Up

(Inside: Watching your kids grow up is painful, but maybe that pain serves you well. Maybe you need it. And this is why…)

I think I know why it can be so painful for parents to watch our kids grow.

Let me back up…
 
Once my second (of three) sons started high school, a panicked feeling of where-did-the-time-go hit me like a Mack truck. I’m not exaggerating when I say, I’d wake up in the middle of the night, heart pounding, thinking how is this period of time with kids in my home almost over? I love raising big kids; I don’t want this season to end. How am I actually here, and where did the time go?
 
(I am never dramatic or hard to be around at all.)
 
This happened night after night.
Want parenting resources? Check out EMandK’s Etsy shop.

Until a random thought hit me in the middle of an ordinary day and made me feel a smidge better: maybe moms-of-bigs NEED that sinking feeling that time is slipping through our fingers. Perhaps the pain in our hearts helps us “finish strong”?

Even though I’m closer to the end than the beginning, I still have years of big kids in my home in front of me. And we all know that that means…
 
Grocery shopping.
 
Games and activities.
 
Checking grades.
 
Maintaining household routines.
 
Appointments.
 
Carpooling.
 
Busyness.
 
And in the whirlwind…
 

When we’re exhausted from a long day at work and our teen wants to talk at 10 pm, we find the energy because we know how fast it all goes.

When we’re busy juggling activity drop-offs, signing field trip permission slips, flipping the laundry, and running to buy poster board, we still rinse and repeat daily. We find the time to volunteer to be on the booster club and live stream the game so the far-away grandparents can watch because we know how fast it all goes.
 
When we’re overwhelmed with our tween’s middle school behaviors or lack of school engagement or friendship struggles, we continue to stay present and look for solutions. We find the resources because we know how fast it all goes.
watching kids grow up
Connect with your kids over these conservation starters for families of teens.

When our teens need to learn to drive, we teach.

When they can’t seem to remember to hang up their wet towels, we explain. When their friends descend upon our home like locusts, eating our food and staying too long, we welcome. We find the patience because we know how fast it all goes.
 
When the mail holds the graduation announcement of our friend’s child, we just stop everything and soak in that we’re not quite there yet. Then we book the vacation or slow down dinner or linger at the park on the swings. We focus on just enjoying our people because we know how fast it all goes.
 

I hate the pain I feel over how fast our kids grow. But as I look back over the time with my kids in my home, how many times has that sad feeling helped me just stop all the things I think I should be doing and focus on what really matters to me?

My family.
 
My home.
 
Noticing, despite all the things that go wrong, how much goes right.
 
That pain becomes purpose. It gives me perspective, so I take the good from it and carry on feeling grateful for the exact season I am in.

Are you watching your kids grow up? Read the full parenting tweens and teens series.

My two oldest sons are in high school now, and I’m still in a coma because of it. Even though I’ve taught high school for over two decades, I’m confused as to how I’m actually old enough to be a parent of a high schooler.

Teaching high schoolers has always been a passion of mine, but now parenting them is, as well. I could research, write, and talk about this topic until eternity. I hope you are encouraged by some of my articles.

 

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TEENS
You Can’t Fix Your Struggling Teens Problems, But You Can Do This One Powerful Thing

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR TWEEN/TEEN

How to Get Your Teen/Teen to Their “Aha Moment”
How to Get Your Tween/Teenage Son to Open Up to You
*400+ Conversation Starters for Families of Teens

PARENTING
Dear Kids – Know the Difference Between “Chores” and “Maintenance”
To the Mom of a High School Freshman
Your Teen’s Maddening Behavior is Age-Appropriate and Here’s Hope
Raising Tweens and Teens – THIS is what it looks like…

HEARTWARMING STORIES IN RAISING OLDER KIDS
I Will Miss These Years of Raising Tweens and Teens
7 Reasons Why Raising Tweens & Teens is the Best
To the Mom Who Mourns That Kids Grow Too Fast
Moms of Big Kids, Did You See Your Sacred Moments Today?

Want parenting resources? Check out EMandK’s Etsy shop.

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens

You just dropped your kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community below. 

 

gifts for moms
a moms prayer

A Mom’s Prayer: Transform Your Anxious Thoughts Through Prayer

(Inside: A mom’s prayer: untangle your anxious thoughts and find extraordinary joy in your ordinary day. Let God minister and nourish you through prayer.)

My thoughts weigh me down. They mess with my mind, so I just don’t feel right.

The twelve tabs open in my brain bounce between ‘I need to grade a stack of tests,’ I wonder if my dog puked because she’s sick or just ate something,’ what times are practices tonight,’ ‘what’s for dinner,’ and ‘why are four of my brain-tabs frozen.’

My thoughts feel tangled and heavy, and I don’t know why. There are hints of depression and anxiety, but those labels seem too strong. My brain just feels scrambled. It’s frustrating because I’ve lived long enough to know-on-paper that good comes from bad, God is in control and I’m not doing life alone…

But, still – I feel unsettled…

 

However, I have this strategy that I use to help me sort out my mind-mess. Do you remember that game you played during 5th grade field day?

Around seven people would circle up. Everyone would extend their arms into the middle of the circle and grab a random hand so a knot of humans resulted. As a team, we’d work together to lift arms, walk under, turn, and step over joined hands to unravel the knot. We’d end up in an untangled circle holding our adjacent classmate’s hands.

Related Article: Imperfect Faith is Still Faith

 

a mom's prayer
Do you want to learn more about how prayer works? Read more about praying as a family here.

That same process is how I unsnarl my thoughts. I do this through prayer.

Because I can’t pinpoint what exactly is revving up my anxious heart, I don’t worry about what to pray. Instead, I just start praying – here and there – throughout my day…

I pray for my oldest son – for protection, wisdom, and confidence. (In my brain – with my human knot of tightly woven thoughts – two connected hands are lowered and I step over.)

I pray for my middle son – for happiness, friendships, and direction. (I spin under a raised hand I’m holding, slightly shaking loose a corner of the knot.)

 

I pray for my youngest son – for joy, focus, and positive influences. (I bend under two arms.)

I pray for my husband – for his work, protection, and that I love him well. (I turn clockwise, step over arms, and loosen another tangle.)

I pray for my students, coworkers, and community. (Deep breathe, figure out the next move, and tuck under another set of arms.)

I pray for my parents, in-laws, my grandma, and friends… (Another turn…)

I pray for direction and the next right step… (Another step over…)

 

a mom's prayer

I could care less about following any prayer rules or formulas; I simply spend my day talking to God.

Just like in 5th grade when I was slightly in awe of how we could always untangle the human knot, I’m often puzzled by why this prayer process unbinds my mess. But I know that as I say a prayer here, words there, the gentle peace of an ever-present God emerges. I feel him helping me not just know but also believe the words he presses deep within me: I am here with you always and forever.

The peace, the message, the act of continual prayer clears my head.

Not in an I-know-have-all-the answers way, but instead in a God-is-with-me-and-for-me-despite-my-worries way.

Prayer.

It’s one of God’s best tools to nurture us.

God is always near and FOR US. If you don’t believe me, start your day with one tiny prayer…

 

Join this community of moms of older kids

You just dropped your kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life-phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life-chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community below.

 

gifts for moms

Read the whole “power of a praying mother” series

Prayer. I’ve had a tricky relationship with prayer over the years. I’ve bounced between ‘what’s the point?’ and ‘Lord, God, THANK YOU so much for the powerful gift of prayer.’

Here’s what life experience and the study of God’s word have taught me about prayer:

God hears our prayers.
God sometimes answers prayers.
_
God shapes us and changes our perspective in uplifting ways through prayer.
God nourishes us through prayer.
God speaks to our hearts with quiet “knowings” deep inside of us through prayer. 
God builds his relationship with us through prayer.
_
Prayer is powerful in ways that we fully don’t understand.
Science proves that prayer is a healthy, life-giving practice with both physical and mental benefits. 

If you also believe a mom’s prayer, can be powerful, keep reading…

A Praying Mother is a Strong Mother
A Mom’s Prayer: Transform Your Anxious Thoughts Through Prayer
A Mother’s Prayer for Strength and Faith and Courage
A Prayer to Conquer Your Mountain

a moms prayer
Do you want to learn more about how prayer works? Read more about praying as a family here.
stocking fillers for teenagers

45+ Inexpensive Stocking Fillers for Teenagers and Big Kids

(Inside: Looking for great stocking fillers for teenagers or your other big kids? Ones that won’t break the bank but that they’ll love? Read on…) 

Gifts can be tricky for teens.

Sometimes, their emotions and actions just don’t always match the spirit of the Christmas season.

For example, one of our boys (a minimalist at heart) wouldn’t give us any ideas for Christmas one year. We kept asking…

“A new basketball? No.

“Tickets to a game?” Eh.

“Clothes?” Nope.

“Shoes” Naw.

“A gift card?” Shrug, then headshake no.

Nothing.

Nada.

Zilch.

But, then my son also kept talking about how excited he was to open gifts.

(Okay, then…)

It finally took me a hot minute to realize that even though he really wasn’t wanting much, that tradition of Christmas and gift-giving was still really important to him. It was a comfort of stability during the roller coaster ride of his teen years. So even though my love language is not gift-giving, and I don’t always feel like shopping…I know it’s still important for me to put effort into paying attention to what he likes and have a few presents under the tree that remind him how loved he is.

 

**This blog post contains affiliate links.**

So I joined the other parents in shopping for Christmas gifts for teens.

And there were lots of choices.

A new iPad.

Or phone.

A hoodie.

Or a nice sports backpack.

 

All expensive.

(Teenagers are not cheap.)

After securing some items on black Friday off of Amazon, I felt like I’d just spent all-my-money plus an-arm-and-leg to…drumroll, please…put exactly three gifts under the tree. I then found myself then side-eying the empty stockings missing the days when our kids were happy with a $1 matchbox car from the grocery store.

More money to spend.

But, also, just like other parents, I know these days of kids under our roof are fleeting. No, none of us want to break the bank and our kids do not need everything, but we would like some nice, inexpensive gifts to fill the stockings.

 

So, I brainstormed. Then I gathered more ideas. I asked friends, my sons, their friends, and some of my high school students: what were some of the best stocking stuffers for teenagers they’ve ever received or still want to get?

Because moms raising big kids are some of the busiest human beings on the planet, I made a quick list of ideas for you. I’m always up for someone else gathering and sifting through information and sharing the final list with me. Time savers are the best. So, here are 20 inexpensive ideas that teenagers and parents of big kids recommend. 

 

 

Fun stocking fillers for teens

My house was full of a bunch of 16 and 17-year-old boys who love video games and sports and band and all things teenager. My son had his cube out and it was hilarious how many people neglected the PS5 and sport court outside to try and figure out this puzzle. The lucky winner and first one to finish had bragging rights all night. This was a gift from grandma on his birthday and it’s been a bigger hit than the gift card my son got – teens are just unpredictable like that. 

These beautiful and bright stickers can be used to personalize your teens’ water bottles, phone cases, Chromebooks, notebooks and so much more. They are waterproof.  My friend told me her girls love them. She’s washed her teen’s water bottles dozens of times, and the stickers haven’t peeled off yet. Amusing and funky, multiple sticker themes exist on Amazon.  It’s easy to find a pack that your teen will be sure to enjoy.  

Part pen and part fidget, this interesting toy will entertain your teens. It also can be used as a touch screen pen for your device.  My guess is you’ll want to have a turn creating with this magnetic fidget pen too. Help your teen de-stress and get creative with this fun pen. 

I always have it in my head that teens are too big for Legos, but then my high school students will tell me they stayed up all night putting one of those giant Lego sets together. Teens just have one foot in adulthood and one in being a kid. I liked this Lego Succulent building set. Any gift that gets my teen’s creative juices flowing is a winner in my house.  Plus when they’re done, it makes a cute adornment on a shelf.  

Despite how fast teens are growing, they still cling a bit to childhood. I was talking to a group of 11th-grade students at the high school where I teach and asked what were good ideas for stocking stuffers for my teen nieces, and they said plushes. Enthusiastically. I think sometimes these things of their childhood give them comfort when they are being thrust to grow up faster than they want to – AP classes, trying out for teens, giving speeches in front of peers, college applications… This might be something your teen would enjoy.

When I was a child, my grandparents had a gumball machine hidden in their closet (not sure why it was hidden…maybe out-of-sight, out-of-mind kind of thing?).  Next to it was a small Tupperware full of pennies for the grand-kids to use to get the bubble gum.  Because of this, I’m always a little warm and fuzzy about gumball machines.  These mini-machines are adorable.  Tuck one in your teen’s stocking and start a gumball tradition of your own. 

A mini arcade Pac-Man game that is fabulous for gamers and non-gamers alike.  As a child of the 80s, this staple video game was a favorite.  After calibrating my joystick, I would move a green pac-man across a black screen in my quest for dots.  I’m that old.  Bring back your childhood and share memories with this classic game your teenager is sure to love too.  

I’ve noticed how many of my high school students have key chains attached to their backpacks. From plushies to sports-related to vacation keepsakes, it seems to be a fun way to express themselves. A keychain that represents something your teen loves might be a good idea.

Crafts stocking fillers for teens

When I was talking to a group of my high school students about their favorite stocking stuffers, I was surprised at how many said crafts. This rainbow scratch art paper is not just for kids. Your teens can use this to leave fun notes for friends, make lists, and draw.  There’s something relaxing about watching the black scratch off and reveal the colors underneath. A great way to unwind after a long day at school and practice or to just have a little fun.  Sometimes it’s the little things that are a hit.  

There’s just something fun about getting a card in the mail.  Even my teens still get excited to see their name on an envelope in the mail.  These stationary cards are lovely. Let’s get this next generation excited about snail mail again.  Encourage them to spread the love with a handwritten note.  And if all else fails, pop one in a frame for some cute artwork.  

My friend’s daughter has a set of watercolor brush pens that she enjoys. More than a typical marker, a watercolor pen looks like you’re painting. These pens are easy to blend and graceful to use. She says a favorite part is experimenting with writing different fonts. A sure win for the budding teen artist in your life. 

stocking fillers for teeangers

Stress-reliever stocking fillers for teens

This is such a satisfying stress ball.  The Nee-Doh can be tossed from teen to teen as a toy or be used to help focus. My friend has one teen that often does homework with it in one hand while the other hand is busy writing. It helps her son focus. Part toy/part stress reliever, it is an amusing gift for your teen’s stocking.  

These sleep masks have the ability to be practical and HILARIOUS. Yes, they can help your teenager get better sleep by blocking light, letting them nap on a bus, or getting an afternoon snooze, but they can also be customized with words or pictures.  I’m thinking a custom mask with large eyes would garner some teen laughs.  

One of my students told me how relaxing scented candles are for her. After a long day at school, she lights a candle, gets a snack, and works on her homework. Mood is everything, and she creates a space for herself that she loves. Besides charming packing, these scents are sure to brighten up any room. 

Teenagers love art for so many reasons. A way to explore their creative side, relax, and focus their thoughts are some of the motives to enjoy drawing. After tests, I put out adult coloring pages, and I’m continually surprised by how many students relax into the comforting rhythm of shading between the lines. This adult coloring book is a good one. Maybe add a pack of colored pencils to the stocking to round this sweet gift out?  

A scientific way to improve your level of happiness and lower your anxiety is through gratitude. A gratitude journal is a simple way to encourage our kids to notice that despite everything that might go “wrong” in their day, how much goes “right.”  I like the idea of giving a stocking stuffer that will have positive ramifications beyond the holidays.  

Electronic stocking fillers for teens that they will appreciate

Besides a drawer in my kitchen full of random chargers, we have either an assortment of chargers plugged into outlets, or we can’t find a single phone charger. Feast or famine. I thought this cable protector would be great for two purposes: keeping track of which charger belongs to whom and preventing the cord from fraying near the plug-in part. Cute and reasonably priced.

No more missing chargers.  No more finding a cable compatible with different smartphones.  This 3-1 wireless charger is easy and fast to use. Plug it in on a desk or counter. Your teen will be excited to charge multiple things at once. You’ll be excited your charger won’t disappear to your teen’s room anymore. 

This mini bluetooth speaker is. so. cute.  Never thought I’d say those words. Waterproof and tiny-sized, this speaker is perfect for your on-the-go teen. Comes with a carrying case and metal hook so it can be easily taken on bike rides, walks, road trips, or hooked on a beach bag.  A great addition to a stocking this year.   

Peanut butter and jelly.  Cookies and milk.  Teens and cell phones.  Chances are if you have a teenager in your life, they have a phone.  Update your teen’s phone with a new phone case. This one comes in a variety of beautiful colors. Or go for a popular clear case. (Teens sometimes put their school ID or lunch ID  in the back of the clear case, and then easily scan that for school lunches.)  Either way, phone cases are a fun and practical gift for a teen.

A portable phone charger can be a lifesaver for your on-the-go teenager. This one comes in a two-pack, so you can slip one in your bag too.  No more excuses for not texting back. You know that they have an easy way to charge their cell phone and stay connected with you wherever they might be.  

Anybody’s teen lost his air pod case? Just mine? I didn’t think so.  Air pod case as a key chain? Brilliant. Hook that baby up to something to help it from disappearing.  This air pod case key chain with a wristlet or others like it without a wristlet are a handy way to keep your air pods from getting lost.  A student proudly showed me her new iPod case key chain, and my first thought was that’s a perfect gift. 

Practical stocking fillers for teens that they will appreciate

Those essential items that the kids use every single day…they do appreciate getting new and upgraded daily use gifts. 

We can’t pull it together with socks in our home. Honestly. I don’t know why. I put an even number of socks in the wash and an odd number comes out. And, we’re all so bad at taking the time to match socks. The hunt is always on for matching socks in our home, and with three boys, they’re always fighting over this basic item. So, for Christmas, they always get socks – they love it and look forward to this gift. What is your family bad at keeping up with? Could it be a stocking stuffer?

I often use stockings to refill a few necessities but will make the gift a small upgrade from my usual purchase. It is amazing to see how excited my teens can be over a new razor. This electric razor is not only practical but makes shaving fun. Win-win.

My friend was telling me how she has loved Burt’s Bee’s products for a long time and is a regular user of their lip balm. But so do her big kids. So, she finds them sneaking into her bathroom to seek out her stash for themselves. Then you know what happens next.  Her lip balms go missing. She said she did herself a favor this year and dropped this variety pack in each stocking.

If you live in a cold weather state like me, you know that gloves are a staple in any home. We’ve gone through our fair share of cheap cotton dollar store gloves, but the gloves that stand the test of time (and weather) have to be of better quality. These gloves are an upgrade with an anti-slip grip and touch screen fingertips. Now your teens have no excuse not to text you back even in the coldest weather.  

Shake up your teen’s normal hygiene routine with a new body spray. Try a new scent or brand. Make smelling good fun again.  This body spray size is perfect for tossing in a backpack or sports bag.  

This is another gift that is an upgrade from our normal toothbrush situation.  I have one teen who doesn’t like brushing his pearly whites, and it’s amazing how an electric toothbrush can make this mundane task more enjoyable. One step closer to no more reminding my teen to clean his teeth.  

Keepsake stocking fillers for teens

It’s truly special the way a family pet stakes a place in our hearts. Show Fido a little extra love with his profile on a charm you can wear. These personalized pet necklaces are a fun and whimsical addition to your teen’s stocking. Lots of dog faces and fonts to choose from to make it one of a kind. 

Give a gift that will make a sweet keepsake.  These minature music boxes play charming songs like “Over the Rainbow” and “You are my Sunshine.” My sentimental mama mind pictures my teen thinking warm and fuzzy thoughts when hearing it play and know they are loved.  

Food and drink and treats stocking fillers for teens

Create a tradition using candy. When the kids were little, my husband started stuffing their stockings with holiday candy. They don’t get it any other time of the year, so it’s a treat they look forward to every Christmas.

A cozy atmosphere and a warm drink in my hand can make those Minnesota winter nights more enjoyable. (Especially the 20 degrees below ones.) Fill your teen’s stockings with some yummy, gourmet hot chocolate mixes. Then, pop in a family movie and sip on your mug of hot chocolate together. 

Have some stocking fun with some delicious gourmet popcorn.  This variety pack will make game-night extra special. Drop these yummy fun-sized treats into your teen’s stocking, then cross your fingers they will share. 

Holidays are the perfect time to try new flavors and embrace the variety pack. These vintage soda flavors can be divided up and placed in each stocking. Then, create a taste test night and vote on your favorite. Another way to make memories with your teens.  

These peppermint Ice Cube gum packs are some of our family’s favorites. What teen doesn’t like getting gum? It’s a staple.

T-shirt stocking fillers for teens

Funny t-shirts are great gifts for teens. If you buy them “a miss,” they’ll still wear the t-shirt to sleep in or lounge around the house. You just can’t lose. This silly t-shirt is sure to give your teen a chuckle.  Or at least an eye roll. 

Graphic tees are also a great gift. Teens just like t-shirts. My sons’ closets are a testimony to this. Funny and comfy. Two of my favorite adjectives. This humorous dino t-shirt is just that.  

Some teens are really into watching anime, and ALL teens are into t-shirts.  A fun anime t-shirt could be a hit in your house.  

Fun and comfy socks fillers for teens

Cute and comfy socks are an easy present to fill your Christmas stockings. These silly socks are soft and fluffy and just perfect for lounging around the house during the cold weather months.  

I was surprised at how excited some of my students get over funny socks. When they are feeling a little EXTRA, they will wear them pulled high with crocks or slides. These silly socks are sure to get a smile when pulled from their stocking.  

Fancy fillers for teens

I tell you what. The marketing people were able to think outside the (juice)box for this bottle of spray. (See what I did there?) This trending perfume comes in a clever, whimsical “juice” box that will have your teen smelling delicious and “awwww-ing” over the container.  

Lip gloss is a sure win for teens who love make-up.  Butter gloss some in so many fantastic shades. You’re sure to find a color your teen will love. 

This travel pack of solid cologne is genius. Chapstick-sized cologne that can go anywhere with your teen.  Easy to slip in a pocket or backpack. This is perfect.

Money and gift cards for teens

My fail safe present for teens (especially when I’m in a time-crunch or don’t know them super well) is to purchase a gift card.  An Amazon gift card is handy because a teen can get almost anything they want at Amazon.com.  Another fun idea to do get several $5 or $10 gift cards to fast food restaurants, or if they are a teen driver, a gas card can be a big hit.  

If you’re concerned about being “boring” but just want to give cash, this is a creative solution.  Present them with a maze puzzle money box. Teens have to solve the puzzle by moving a silver ball through the maze to unlock the opening and receive their prize.  This gift is great.

Games for teens

Our family loves 5 Crowns. Small games are an inexpensive gift to throw in stockings. Plus, a lazy Christmas day is the perfect opportunity to connect over a family game.

Your Turn

What did we miss? What are some stocking stuffers that your family has loved? Let us know in the comments.

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens

You just dropped your kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community below.

 

stocking stuffers for teenagers

Want more gift ideas for your family?

Book ideas for high school teenagers

Book ideas for middle school tweens

Inspirational books ideas for moms

Gift ideas for moms of tweens and teens (Great for Mother’s Day!)

Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys

stocking fillers for teens
school memory printable

School Memory Book Printable: a Simple, Beautiful Keepsake Parents will Cherish

(Inside: Grab a school memory book printable that as parents, you will cherish. This is a keepsake you will be glad that you have.)

I am a memory-junkie mom.

Specifically, photos and words.

I’ve always been the mom with a camera, snapping way too many photos of games, holidays, closed-eyed wishes in front of candles, kids with grandparents, and the dog playing fetch with the family. Then, I have plastic bins full of kids’ schoolwork, art projects, and planners. I love flipping through pictures of my growing kids and holding papers showcasing my boys’ handwriting, words, and drawings.

Time moves so fast, keepsakes are a kind of therapy for me.

They help me see where the moments went – to school, to sports, to concerts, to special occasions, to meals, to walks with the dog around the lake, to family movies watched in the living room.

However, I am not a things-memorabilia-junkie. Clutter makes me nervous, and I’ve donated an excessive amount of participation trophies, clothes, uniforms, toys…etc. I felt good about my mass exodus of outgrown goods until I went to a grad party and saw a mom who had saved all the “things” and displayed them so beautifully. I went home and cried buckets that I had donated the soccer jerseys and Awana vests.

Mom emotions are complicated like that.

But I digress…
 

Every year, I make an end-of-the-year photo album on Shutterfly that I order three copies of – one for us and one for each set of grandparents as their Christmas gifts.

 
I usually asked my kids questions about their year: what were their favorites, whom did they hang out with, what did they learn about themselves…and record that in the book.

This year I decided that instead of my typing their answers into my photo album, I wanted to see their handwriting.

So, I created two pdfs – one for the start of their school year and one for the end. I emailed the pdfs to them; they opened them on their school iPads and filled out the beginning-of-the-school-year page by hand using Notability. In June, I’ll remind them to fill out the end-of-the-school-year reflection. Then, I’ll upload the pages to Shutterfly, and it’ll be a nice addition to my annual memory books.
 
memory book printable
Get the memory book printable here.

That’s how I like to preserve memories, but these printables could be printed out to be put in memory boxes, kept in folders, or displayed at grad parties.

Or they could just be stored in the folders of pictures and memories on your computer. It’s just lovely to have “things” that mark your kids’ years and bring you back to that sweet season of raising kids.

I never look back and am sad I took the picture or recorded my kids’ thoughts.

Because I’m a mom.
 

A keeper of the memories.

Specifically, a photos and words person.

A memory-junkie.

And I love it.
memory book printable
Get the memory book printable here.

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens. We try and come up with great ideas like a memory book printable for big kids and more…

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kids, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community here or below. 

 

If you grab the memory book printable here, you will automatically be signed up for emails.

Read more in the “Raising Tweens and Teens” series…

My two oldest sons are in high school now, and I’m still in a coma because of it. Even though I’ve taught high school for over two decades, I’m confused as to how I’m actually old enough to be a parent of a high schooler. 

Teaching high schoolers has always been a passion of mine, but now parenting them is as well. I could research, write, and talk about this topic until eternity. I hope you are encouraged by some of my articles.

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TEENS
You Can’t Fix Your Struggling Teens’ Problems, But You Can Do This One Powerful Thing


COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR TWEEN/TEEN
How to Get Your Teen/Teen to Their “Aha Moment”
400+ Conversation Starters for Families of Teens


PARENTING
Dear Kids – Know the Difference Between “Chores” and “Maintenance”
Your Teen’s Maddening Behavior is Age-Appropriate and Here’s Hope
Raising Tweens and Teens – THIS is what it looks like…

 

memory book printable
Get the memory book printable here.
kindness at home

Kindness at Home is Everything, Let’s be a Family that’s Kind to Each Other

(Inside: Kindness at home means the world. We all want to go home to a kind family. A kind family that nurtures and supports. Read on..)

Let’s be a family that’s kind to each other.

A family that looks up from their devices and smiles big when we see the other arrive home.
 
And asks about their day, because even though you don’t always feel like answering, it’s sure nice to be asked.
 
Let’s see – really see – one another every. single. day.

Let’s be a family that’s kind to each other.

When big emotions hit, a family that takes a deep breath and exhales slowly before answering. Who tries to respond instead of react.
 
And when words spew out, pelting across the room instead of controlled, thought-out responding, is quick to apologize. Who takes ownership over their actions.
 
Let’s recognize that we’re each other’s safe place, so we can all hold it together out there and unravel at home. Let’s put hard moments in perspective and freely give grace.

Let’s be a family that’s kind to each other.

Big kids who notice when the parents are juggling all-the-things and are quick to help in the kitchen.
 
Or parents who see their teens studying for the big test so make their lunch for the next day and bring them a glass of water.
 
Let’s be aware, help lighten loads, and try to meet needs.

kindness at home
One of my favorite things to do to create family connection is go out to eat (especially after a busy couple of weeks), and while we wait for food, ask a few of these conversation starters.

Because the world out there is tricky.

Navigating it can be like eating spaghetti with a spoon – messy, partially effective, and just plain hard. So, let’s recognize that small acts of daily kindness send big love through all of our lives.
 
Kind attitudes uplift.
 
Kind words heal.
 
Kind actions revive.

And doing our part matters: if we want to live in a home that is kind, we need to be the type of person who is kind.

Every family member is important. Vital, even. Each must daily show kindness, so we create the kind of nourishing home that we all want to come home to.
 
It won’t be flawless.
 
Perfect families don’t exist.
 
But families who continually come back to kindness do.
 
So, let’s be that.
 
Let’s be a family that’s kind to each other.

Kindness at home matters. We all want to live in a kind home and feel connected to our families. Read more in the Create Family Connection series.

We all want to feel connected to our family. I know, I do. 

One of my favorite things to do with my family is to create family time. Yes, life gets busy, and no I don’t do this all perfectly (who actually does!?!), but it sure is fun to try. 

I hope you enjoy these family connection articles and ideas too…

FAMILY ACTIVITIES
Know Your Child: One Way to Learn How Your Kid Feels Loved
400+ Great Conversation Starters for Families of Teens
7 Powerful Reasons to Pray as a Family

INSPIRATIONAL STORIES
7 Reasons Why Raising Tweens & Teens is the Best
My Big Kids, No Matter How Fast Your Grow, I’ll Always Be Your Mom 
Moms of Big Kids, Get Lost in Motherhood if You Want

kindness at home
Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens here.

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens. We’re working together to create kindness at home…

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kids, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community here or below. 

kind family
kindness at home
Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens here.