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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…

 

parenting teens and tweens

Parenting Teens and Tweens Will Rip Your Heart Out

(Inside: Parenting teens and tweens will rip your heart out. There will be a moment when you find yourself emotionally spent.)

Parenting teens and tweens will rip your heart out.

There will be a moment when you’re sitting on the bathroom floor, back against the tub, feet tucked at the base of the sink, emotionally spent.

Your kid is the one sitting alone at the lunch table.

Your kid is repeatedly self-sabotaging in her actions, and no matter what you do, nothing helps.

Your kid has health and/or mental health challenges that just won’t shake.

Your kid got cut from the team in a sport he’s spent a decade playing and being in that uniform means the absolute world to him. The “no” hit like a nuclear bomb.

Your kid doesn’t seem to care – about anything.

Your kid is painfully distant – you don’t have the kind of longed-for relationship you want, and you just don’t recognize your teen anymore.

For tweens and teens, these years can be fun and interesting and great. Then they also can be some of the absolute hardest years of their lives: there are so many changes, so much to learn, so many obstacles to navigate, and so much perspective to gain. The perfect storm for big hurt in our big kids.

And when our kids hurt, we hurt too.

So, we find ourselves on the ground, sandwiched between the tub and sink, at 1 am. But momma, on the floor, with a ripped-out heart, feeling like you could crawl out of your skin anxious…

Deep breath in.

Exhale slowly.

parenting teens and tweens
Parenting teens and tweens can be so tough. My mom was in a tough spot with me when I was in my early 20s. Read what she did to help in the description here.

The Lord is here with you on this floor.

Maybe say a few words to him…

GOD IN HEAVEN, will you reveal yourself to me? Will you nurture me through reminding me of what I know about your character?

You love my children so much you know the exact number of hairs on their heads. You see where they’re at and are moved with deep love and wide compassion.

I believe that you are working in mighty ways in my kids’ lives. I don’t get why tough things happen, but I do know that you can and will pull good out of difficult. You are growing my teens, shaping them, molding their character. You are preparing a way – people for them to connect with and places for them to thrive. I know you can move mountains, and I pray that pebble-by-pebble you do.

Open our eyes to see you around us. Helping us notice how much there is to be grateful for. Help us see the people who do show up. Give us the strength to seek and accept help. Reveal solutions, then shower us with discernment and direction.

And through it all, wrap your hands of protection and love around our family.

Oh.

And one more thing…

Please, please, please, help me not to think this is my fault.

Help me to treat myself with the same tenderness and care I would treat anyone else with a ripped-out heart. Squash negative-self-talk with force, again and again, because it is a beast. AMEN.

Deep breath in.

Exhale slowly.

God loves your kids and is working in their lives.

God loves your kids and is working in their lives.

God loves your kids and is working in their lives.

Believe.

Stay on that floor as long as you need, there are no rules here. But when you get up, do so holding tight – with epic amounts of tenacity and stubbornness – to HOPE.

Read the full Parenting Teens and Tweens 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 not 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
A Simple and Effective Way to Encourage Your Teen
*ou 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
Parenting is Hard: This One Thought Can Help You Better Thrive
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

Join this community of moms parenting teens and tweens.

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 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 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. 

gifts for moms
teen struggle

You Can’t Fix Your Struggling Teen’s Problems, But You Can Do This One Powerful Thing

(Inside: Watching your teen struggle can be so incredibly hard. We often can’t fix their problems anymore, but we can do this one powerful thing.)

One of the hardest things in parenting is watching your teen (or big kid) struggle and feeling helpless.

That’s where my mom was with me when I was in my early 20s.
 
I can’t exactly put my finger on why I was in such a funk. I’d followed the formula (college, then career), and yet there I was in the golden-young-twenty-years feeling lost.
 
Not just lost, panicked. With screeching anxiety. Pounding me every second.
 
Maybe it was that everyone else was getting married and my boyfriend had written a two-sentence letter, put a stamp on it, licked the envelope, and mailed it to break up with me. (Me calling him: “Did you just break up with me in an actual letter?” Dumpster fire moment.) Or maybe it was that everyone else seemed confident in their direction, and I was bouncing between temporary living places and uncertain about my career.

I just couldn’t.

Couldn’t manage my emotions.
 
Couldn’t make decisions.
 
Couldn’t get on top of life.
 
But, my mom…
 
My sweet momma.
 
She invaded my space in the best of ways: she typed up all of her favorite verses about hope, printed them out, and hung them all over my doors, next to my bed, by my mirror – nourishment sprinkled everywhere.
 
Y’all my mom doesn’t even like that kind of crafty stuff.
 
I was overcome.
teen struggle
It’s so hard to watch your teen struggle. If you want to save time and simply download some encouraging scripture verses for teens, click here.

Now, two decades later, I get why that simple gesture meant so much to me – because I better understand pain.

Pain is like a spiderweb of cracks that slices through your life in crazy directions. There isn’t one magic “thing” that instantly heals the mess. Rather, it takes an accumulation of solutions to slowly bind up your wounds. For example, one small slice of crack gets better through taking care of your body (long walks, water, eating well, sleep). Another by connecting with your people (hugs, conversations, petting your dog). A different crevice mends through inputting inspiration (books, podcasts, church, prayer, encouragement). And other slice heals by seeking professional help (doctors, counselors, therapists, medication). Each little step towards self-care stitches small sections of your cracks back together until, over time, you feel healed.
 
Changed and maybe different – but definitely better.
 
During that period, I worked hard at healing and did “all of the above.” But when I look back, what sticks with me the most were the actions of my mom. Her going out of her way to remind me of her constant presence and support through hanging up God’s promises was powerful.

Now, I’m the mom. And I’ve experienced how excruciating it can be to watch my teen struggle.

Often, I can’t often fix their problems anymore.
 
But I remember that the small gestures…
 
A text.
 
A hug.
 
A warm dinner.
 
Words of encouragement.
 
Listening.
 
Or printed out verses plastered everywhere.
 
The tangible ways of reminding our kids that we’re always there for them – they all matter. Parenting will always have its ups and downs, including difficult seasons with unclear solutions. But, in the hard, when we feel helpless…moms, we can encourage. We can choose to operate from a place of hope knowing that being a mom who is always there for her kids has a positive ripple effect.
teen struggle
Download encouragement for your struggling teen.

It’s so hard to watch your teen struggle. Read more for encouraging parenting resources to help…

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 not 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.

Parenting Tweens and Teens Series

TEACHING GRIT
The Pandemic is Shaping Kids in These 6 Powerful Ways

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TEENS
A Simple and Effective Way to Encourage Your Teen

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
Parenting is Hard: This One Thought Can Help You Better Thrive
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

Watching your teen struggle can be so hard: encouraging downloadable printables can be found here.

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens (We’ve all been there watching our teen struggle. You are not alone!)

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 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 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. 

gifts for moms
teen mature

Your Teen’s Maddening Behavior is Age-Appropriate and Here’s Hope

(Inside: Frustrated mom, your teen will mature. When you’re raising teens, it can feel like they will never mature. But teens do grow up. This is how I know.)

Can I remind all of us parents in the thick of raising teens that their maddening behavior is often age-appropriate?
 
After school, I sat working in my classroom when a big personality filled my doorframe. I smiled at my former student – I always love when graduates make the rounds, checking in with previous teachers.

He told me how he was working super hard at his job, which was weird because he didn’t like to be on time or exhibit a ton of effort in high school.

He told me how he’d found a passion, which was weird because he didn’t really seem to have any goals in high school.
 
He told me how he ran and lifted weights every morning, which was weird because he didn’t display that kind of self-discipline in high school.
 
He told me how he was taking some college courses and loving them, which was weird because he never really liked academic work in high school.
 
Except none of it is weird.
conversation starters teens
Do you want to better connect with your teen? Good conversations help teens grow and mature. Download these 400+ conversations starters.

When he was one of my students he was incredibly likable (of course!), but while some high schoolers displayed one or two symptoms of being a teen – he displayed all of them…

Apathy.
 
Lack of follow-through.
 
Big emotions.
 
Grumpiness.
 
Preference of playing video games and being on his cell phone over all other things.
 
Aversion to responsibility.

When you’re in the thick of parenting (or working with) teens, it feels like they’ll never “get it.” But here’s the thing: they will mature. Much of what we see is age-appropriate.

I remembered how this family stayed the course with their son. They had routines, talked-though expectations, and boundaries. There were consequences that modeled real life as much as possible. (If you didn’t get your homework done during the week, you spent your Saturday catching up on work…just like in a career.) They created a home that listened, encouraged, guided, and nourished. They chose their battles, held the line on what was important, and gave grace when needed. And through all the ups and downs of messy life, they loved him in abundance.
 
As I said goodbye to the mature young man walking away, I thought about how many times in my 20+ years of teaching I’d see this exact same situation play out. Many of the teen-symptoms that drive moms crazy truly, truly, truly are temporary.

So mommas, when we’re in the weeds…

We take a deep breath.
 
We remind ourselves raising teens is an imperfect, twisty journey.
 
We put things into perspective.
 
We give everyone grace, especially ourselves.
 
We know our kids need us and keep on parenting.
 
And we operate from a place of hope, believing that our efforts will pay off.

Your teen will mature and more encouragement. Read the full raising tweens and teens series…

My oldest two sons are now in high school, 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 not 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.

TEACHING GRIT
The Pandemic is Shaping Kids in These 6 Powerful Ways

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TEENS
A Simple and Effective Way to Encourage Your Teen

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

PARENTING
Parenting is Hard: This One Thought Can Help You Better Thrive
7 Reasons Why Raising Tweens & Teens is the Best
*Dear Kids – Know the Difference Between “Chores” and “Maintenance”
*I Will Miss These Years of Raising Tweens and Teens
To the Mom of a High School Freshman

teen mature
Your teen will mature and more encouragement… Join this community of moms of tweens and teens here.

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens

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 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 here or below. 

teen mature
teen mature
Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens here.
teen mature
Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens here.
parenting regrets

Parenting Regrets: 3 truths about “I wish I’d parented better.”

(Inside: Do you have parenting regrets? Things you wish you’d done “better?” Here are 3 truths to give you perspective.)

Can we talk about parenting regrets?

Because I’m convinced it’s one way Satan comes after moms raising tweens and teens.
 
Why we don’t always see it, I don’t know…the thief isn’t creative, he spams the same vulnerable buttons. Regret sneaks in disguised as reflection, yet can quickly turn into negative self-talk.

You observe your middle schooler/high schoolers’ actions or character qualities that aren’t working and find yourself thinking maybe life would be smoother for them now if I’d done “this” better when they were younger.

Regrets like…
 
School might be more manageable if I’d made them read more in elementary school. Or had a stricter routine around schoolwork earlier. Or gotten them a tutor. Or taken away video games. Or better shown them how fun learning is.
 
My teen struggles with friendships. But, what if… What if I had critiqued less and encouraged more? What if we’d specifically worked on being a better friend sooner? What if I’d built a more supportive community around my kid? Or signed them up for different activities?
 
My middle schooler is moody and disagreeable, maybe I should’ve focused more on relationship and less on rules. Or perhaps been tighter with respect expectations. Or taken them to a counselor. Or talked more about emotions. Or practiced healthy ways of communicating. Or parented them in a different way.
parenting regrets
Talk about parenting regrets and more…join this community of moms raising tweens and teens and get inspirational emails right here.

The years are speeding by, I wish I’d been home more. Or encouraged our family to be less busy. Or spent the money on vacations. Or taken more pictures. Or hit that record button.

My kid doesn’t seem interested in faith. I wish we would’ve spent more time with our church family. Or sent him to Sunday School. Or camp. Or emphasized family devotionals.
 
My teen didn’t make the team, I wish I would’ve started him in a sport younger. Or I should’ve encouraged something different – music, robotics, chess. We put our eggs in the wrong basket.
 
I don’t like what I’m seeing in parenting right now, so I should have…
 
And the list can go on…

Lately, uninvited regrets have kept messing with my mind.

Mainly, I think if I would’ve approached parenting differently when they were little, my kids wouldn’t struggle so much now in two specific areas.
 
But, stop.
 
Just full-on hit the brakes of that thought train.
 
Those are not the thoughts of loving a God who nurtures and encourages. Deep breath in. Exhale with length. I needed to hear The Holy One’s voice, so I used a technique that helped me gain perspective, and it started with truth.
 
I surrounded the regrets with truth…

Truth #1:

Tweens and teens aren’t supposed to have everything laid out perfectly for them. They need to learn how to struggle through life’s flaws. Mistakes and failures are an essential part of the growth and maturity of teens.

Truth #2:

God intentionally created all of us (Psalm 139:13-18), calls us his children (Galatians 3:26), takes great delight in us (Zephaniah 3:17), is with us (Isaiah 41:10), and has plans for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11). So, we can safely operate from a place of hope – God is for all of us and is working in and around our lives.

Get to know your family more through keeping a family prayer journal…

parenting regrets

Truth #3:

If a regret is really bugging me, then I can let that point to some next right steps. Take the vacation. Encourage my kid to try something new. Have that conversation. Tweak the way I parent. Moms have a lifetime to work on their relationships with their kids, mom life doesn’t end when the 18th birthday candles are blown out.

So, take 5 steps back, Satan.

Do you know who you’re dealing with? A mom in the trenches of raising teens and moms of bigs know a thing or two…including truth. The pain of our regrets can point us to purpose in our future. Yes, we can’t redo, but you forget – we can always renew.

Join this community of moms raising older kids

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 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.  (Including the  school checklist I created for my son – it’s editable, so you can tweak it to fit your kid.) 

Join our community here or below.

Let’s talk about parenting regrets and more… Be encouraged through the full “imperfectly thrive in parenting series.”

Parenting is one of my biggest joys. I’ve always wanted to be a mom. From a young age, I prayed to have a family, and sometimes I pinch myself that my dream came true.

However, because this phase of life means so much to me, I can put too much pressure on myself to make the most of every moment, to handle every situation flawlessly, and to be the best mom ever. The truth is, I won’t do it all well and it’s not supposed to be that way. 

One of God’s goals for me is to lean on him – to turn to him, to trust in him, to seek his guidance and favor in this motherhood experience. The dips and turns and messy in mom-life help me do that. 

What a gift the imperfect can be. I do my best to try and articulate this idea in my imperfectly thrive in motherhood series. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing. 

Do You Need to Simplify Parenting? Collect Moments, Instead
Being a Parent is Hard for This One Reason: Here’s What Helps
Healthy Helicopter Parenting: A Story to Life You Up
Why Mom Mistakes Can Be Good

parenting regrets
Talk about parenting regrets and more…join this community of moms raising tweens and teens and get inspirational emails right here.
my teen has low motivation

Frustrated Mom – Your Unmotivated Teen Will Find Success

(Inside: My teen has no motivation. What should I do? Help me gain perspective on this!)

My teen has no motivation

I had a wretched evening. My middle school son and I battled over his schoolwork and I felt completely discouraged…

The next morning, I went to a student-of-the-year presentation at the high school where I teach. Each teacher picks a student who has stood out over the year. This award is a big deal.

Low motivation in teens is not uncommon

A teacher stood up with a graduating senior I’d had in previous years. She’d both warmed-my-teacher-heart and broken-my-teacher-heart. Incredibly likable, this girl was kind and fun to be around. But she didn’t like homework, or goals…or really doing anything academic at all.

Despite encouragement and talking-to and phone calls home, her mom and I barely dragged her over the passing line in my class. For three high school years, she struggled to find any success at all in school.

Are you tired of nagging your big kid to take care of their responsibilities? I would through a tough school phase with my son, and communicating through a checklist was a game changer. Read more in the description here.

How this teen became motivated

Then something happened – I don’t know really, but her senior year, we all saw a change in her.

She carried herself differently. With more confidence. Like she’d made up her mind to do well and now she was ready to take some steps.

She started making plans for after graduation – her future excited her. She took on more leadership roles in school – her confidence grew. She focused on getting assignments completed and turned in – her grades went up.

And now she was standing on a stage being applauded by a room full of teachers, administrators, parents, and peers.

Her mom beamed as she came over to say hello after the presentation. I asked, “What changed?” She said, her daughter…

Ready for this life-changing event?

This lighting strike moment?

…she said her daughter simply matured.

Related Article: A family connection activity to increase you and your kid’s happiness

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Moms, we keep giving our unmotivated teens the tools to success

No big dramatic moment, instead, at the end of her junior year, she quietly began to “grow up.” All the things her parents and teachers said to her finally started to sink in. And because she’d been given the tools to find success over the years, she knew to pull them out and start testing a few. Also, because everyone unconditionally loved her when she wasn’t using her gifts, I imagine she knew she had nothing to lose by simply trying.

This mom’s words were exactly what I needed to hear.

Just because my kid fought me on completing homework well, doesn’t mean he always will….

And just because our kids don’t always make good choices, doesn’t mean they always will… Just because our kids are moody and cranky with us, doesn’t mean they always will… And just because our kids can seem apathetic with no ambition or direction, it doesn’t mean they always will…

Sometimes kids just need time…

to grow…
to let it all sink in…
to be a late bloomer…
and mature.

 

Related Article: How to Get Your Teen to Their Aha Moments (Better communicate with your teen)

Have faith – your kid will find their way

Moms, we stay the course. We keep loving and encouraging our kids through the high moments and the low moments. Even if our kids don’t respond to our “motivation” and “wisdom,” we keep giving them tools. We keep placing in their toolbox life lessons and tangible steps of how to be successful along with a ton of unconditional love.

And then we know – we really know and believe…
…that maturity will happen…eventually.

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Read more in the helping your big kid thrive in school series…

As a high school teacher for over two decades, I love, love, love watching kids learn. It’s okay if there are struggles in their educational journey. Not just okay – normal, even. We just keep stressing the importance of education and giving them the tools for success. And then we encourage our kids and love them well.

I hope you enjoy these articles.

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR PARENTS
Teen, These Big Reasons are Why You’ll Like Trying Hard in School

GETTING ORGANIZED
A Simple Way to Motivate Teens to Be More Responsible

BOOKLISTS
146+ Best Chapter Books for Tweens that Will Also Build Character
Compelling Books that High Schoolers Will Want to Read

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how to talk to teens

How to Get Your Tween/Teen to Their “Aha Moment”

(Inside: Communicating with your teen can be hard. If you are wondering how to better communicate with your tweens or teens, here’s a proven method that works.)

“No, I swear – I’m going to graduate! I got this!” the son said to his mom.

“So, how exactly are you going to graduate.” (She’s no dummy.) She pulls up his transcript. He’s failing all of his third-trimester junior classes, so mathematically isn’t able to earn enough credits his senior year to graduate. He’s refusing credit recovery or summer school. He insists it will all work out in the next year even though the math in front of him is showing him it’s impossible. (Another confirmation he needs to retake algebra.)

Photo by Nicholas Githiri from Pexels

This story is not uncommon. It repeats itself in raising tweens and teens on other issues, like:

  • The red flags of an over-controlling boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • The confusion teens experience over why they got fired because I was only late a few times what’s the big deal?
  • The teen who treats her friends like royalty and family like dirt.
  • The teen who continually overcommits then wonders why he’s stressed.
  • The girl who honestly does NOT think all the duck-lipped, sexy photos posted will be seen by potential employers. (“Mom, it’s fine my page is set on public. Employers who hire don’t check these things.” *Yes, they do!*)
  • Teens thinking they are invincible and free from pain – despite their bad choices.
  • The student who’s not organized but that’s everyone else’s fault.

    And so on…

What do you do when you’re tween/teen is making poor choices?

Moms, we love our teens. So, it can be so hard when we see a piece of our hearts (walking around in the form of a tall lanky, human being with braces) making poor choices.

When our kids are self-sabotaging how do we get them to see the light? How do we talk to them so they are intrinsically motivated to take the next right step? How do we get them to a powerful “ah-ha” moment?

We start with what our gut is urging us to do…we talk to our kids…

“How do I better communicate with my teen?”

There are two ways our conversations with our kids sometimes unfold:

  • Method 1: Lecturing
  • Method 2: Questioning


Let’s look closer at both conversation methods…

communicating with teen
Continue the discussion on “communicating with teen” and more by joining our community of moms raising older kids HERE.

Communicating with Teen Method 1: Lecturing

Moms, we mean well, but sometimes, like a freight train on steroids, our talks quickly go from listening to lecturing. For example, here’s how a condensed conversation might go…

Mom: I’ve noticed this problem.
Kid: Yeah, me too.
Mom: The problem is… And you shouldn’t do that because of (moms insert all the reasons and her wisdom here.) 

Kid: Okay…

Mom continues lecturing. The big parenting emotions convince mom that the kid hasn’t made good choices because kid hasn’t previously heard mom’s wise words that have been said a billion times.

So mom revs up her loudest voice. (Yelling is most definitely the solution. Kid can for sure hear me if I yell.)

Kid zones out what is being said because she’s getting yelled at then walks away feeling angry, disappointed, and regretful. However, kid is not focused on the wisdom yelled at her, but rather the yelling itself.

Mom hates that she had to yell and instantly feels guilty. However, the silver lining is that much wisdom was at least shared. (I said what I need to say and now, certainly, my daughter will make a change. However, why do I always have to yell to get her there?)

The next day kid repeats the poor choices. 

Have you been there? Yeah, me too – parenting can be so hard.

how to talk to your teen

Communicating with Teen Method 2: Questioning

But there’s another way to communicate – one that high school teachers (I am one), counselors, and other professionals working with teens have repeatedly proven effective. Let’s look at the questioning method.

In this method, the mom keeps asking questions until she is able to lead her kids to a healthy solution that the kid came up with on his/her own.

(Know this about me: I believe that all kids want to be successful and proud of who they are. I encourage moms to look for that spark in the conversation that proves this.)

Onward…here’s a short, tidy version (probably, overly tidy) of what communicating with your teen and the questioning method looks like:


Mom:
I saw that your missing 15 homework assignments.
Kid: Yeah, so what.
Mom: Do you like that you’re missing that many homework assignments?
Kid: I don’t know, not really.
Mom: Why are you missing so much homework?
Kid: I don’t know, I just don’t like to do it.

Mom: What about it don’t you like?
Kid: It takes so long. I feel unmotivated to sit down in the evening.
Mom: What spot in the house do you feel most motivated to work?
Kid: I guess the kitchen table.
Mom: When do you feel most motivated to do homework?
Kid: I guess in the evening. I need a break after school.

Mom: Okay, so how can I help you make sure you set up a routine that will help you be successful?
Kid: I guess just help remind me that from 6:00-7:00 is homework time.
Mom: What should you do about all the missing homework assignments?
Kid: I’ll find out what I can make up and finish them. 
Mom: Okay, when will you have them done by?
Kid: Give me two days. I’ll work in my study hall.

If your teen is crabby and uncooperative, tell them you’ll give them an hour to let this idea set in, then try again.

And if needed – again! Momma, you are a boss woman!

You recovered from a horrendous c-section.

You juggle a job and bills and highlighting your grey hair.

You will not let this teenager get the best of you.

Deep breaths – you are calm, saintly, and pure. 

This is about your teenager, don’t give them any reason to make this about you – keep the focus on them. And try again.

conversation starters teens
Communicating with your teen can be fun: connect over these conversation starters.

Why the Questioning Method Works for Communicating with Teens

Tweens and teens are tricky. There they want to please their parents and do the right thing, but they sometimes get lost in the many layers of being a teen. But, still, they have pride, want independence, and crave parent approval – this method meets all three of your kids’ wants:

  • They are answering the questions, the control is in their hands. (They maintain their pride.)
  • Your kids are coming up with the solution. This shapes their intrinsic motivation and independence.  Momma, all you are doing is asking questions and thinking of more good questions to get them to a solution. (No need to get angry. You wear a halo. Chirping birds fly peacefully around you. Deep breaths and saintly thoughts, momma.)
  • You continually affirm them. “Yes, that makes sense,” but…then onto the next question. (Remember, those kids love having your approval, even when they say they don’t.)


Let me emphasize again that I gave a condensed version, but expect the conversation to be much more work. 

Video: Lead Your Teen to His/Her Aha Moments

I wrote out the condensed version of how to lead your teen to their own “aha moment,” but this video models it. The counselor walks through:

  • Method 1: Lecturing
  • Method 2: Questioning


Watch until the end and see how the Questioning Method can be powerful and effective. 

The aha moment might come, but change is slow.

If you look at the curriculum of subjects in schools, we teach and re-teach the same material (but add a little more depth) from kindergarten through 12th grade. My second grader brought home a geometry concept I was working on with my 10th graders, and I about fell over.

But, it makes sense. We need to see content multiple times to remember it.  You might get your kid to the aha moment (“Now, I get why I should be responsible”), but remember he/she is continually learning the necessary behavior to support these new responsible actions.

Parents, being patient and consistent (so hard!) will help our kids relearn and remember the next right step they came up with for themselves.

Change is slow, but the work is important.

Your work is important.

Keep talking to your kids. Reteach that “aha” moment. Keep moving forward.

Moms, our work is vital. If you are willing to invest this time learning how to better talk to your kids – you are a rockstar. You kids hit the parenting jackpot. And if they don’t know it, they will.

In the future, I bet how lucky they are to have you as a mom will be one of their “aha” moments. 

If you aren’t just concerned about communicating with your teen but also, raising great kids – dive into the full raising tweens and teens series

My oldest son started high school last week 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 not 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.

Raising Tweens/Teens Series

TEACHING GRIT
The Pandemic is Shaping Kids in These 6 Powerful Ways

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TEENS
A Simple and Effective Way to Encourage Your Teen

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

PARENTING
Parenting is Hard: THis One Thought Can Help You Better Thrive
7 Reasons Why Raising Tweens & Teens is the Best

communicating with teen
Continue the discussion on “communicating with teen” and more by joining our community of moms raising older kids HERE.

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 a fantastic 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. 

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communicating with teen
Continue the discussion on “communicating with teen” and more by joining our community of moms raising older kids HERE.