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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…

 

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.
family at dinner table

The Lasting Power of a Simple Meal: It’s Not Just Your Family at the Dinner Table, It’s More

(Inside: Moms, we think it’s just our family at the dinner table, another meal, nothing special, but it’s so much more than that…)

It’s not just dinner.

Moms, we think it’s just dinner, but we forget.

It’s not just noodles, a jar of spaghetti sauce, and a side of broccoli.

Or pizza showing up at our door.

Or chicken sandwiches ordered from a booth.

It’s a place for our family to fill their empty bellies – a mood booster and an energy-giver.

It’s a place to unpack your thoughts and process your day. To be heard and to listen. And for your family to speak truth and encouragement into each other’s lives.

It’s a place to just focus on eating because everyone’s too tired to talk, but it’s your safe place to simply sit and be. The dinner table is a place to belong.

It’s a place for good conversations. And belly laughs. And heated debates. And dumb topics. And intellectual thoughts.

family at dinner table
Do you want to make your meals more interesting? Discuss these awesome conversation starters for families of teens.

At the end of a busy day, we can quickly throw together/order/pick up something to eat and not think anything more about it. But it’s not just dinner.

It’s a pause in life to soak in the people you love. To refuel your body. To show and receive emotional support. To create and deepen family connections. To nurture a sense of belonging.

Life gets busy and this certainly isn’t going to happen every single night.

But, that rhythm of continually coming back to family meals.

It’s not just dinner.

It’s life.

Want to connect more than over your family at the dinner table? Read more in the “Create Family Connections” 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
400+ Great Conversation Starters for Families of Teens
7 Powerful Reasons to Pray as a Family (+ Prayer Journal)

INSPIRATIONAL STORIES
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

CELEBRATING HOLIDAYS
30+ Ways to Connect With Your Family Over the Holiday Season

family at dinner table

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 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. 

gifts for moms
family at dinner table
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 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.
conversation starters

400+ Great Conversation Starters for Families of Teens

(Inside: Do you want good conversation starters for your teens? Or great questions to ask your teens to help them open up to the family? Read on…)

Conversation Starters For Teens

Moms want to connect with their teens. We want to know what our teens love and don’t, what’s going well and isn’t, how they best feel heard and loved, and about their friendships, school, and life.

We want to know how they think.

We want to know what makes them happy.

And I could keep listing because the truth is we want to know everything about our teens – we want to know who those sweet babies that we carried and nurtured and rocked are growing up to be.

Teens Want To Be Known

Similarly, teens want to be heard. They want to be seen, loved, and wanted by their parents. Even when they are at their worst, they still want their parents to pursue them, over and over telling (and showing) them they are worthy and loved.

Connecting With Our Teens Can Be Hard

However, life isn’t flawless. Teens can hold it together all day and fall apart when they come home, their moodiness tearing through the house with unbridled force. Or they find themselves lost in stress, or emotions or impulsiveness or self-sabotaging or apathy. But, as moms, we don’t buy any I-don’t-need-you signs. Not even one pennyworth – our teens long to connect with their families.

A Simple Way To Connect That Your Teen Will Like


As my sons grew older, I wanted to add tools to my box of ways to connect with them. In my high school classroom (I’ve taught for 20+ years), I’ve noticed that when I put students in small groups and had them answer anywhere from dumb to ridiculous to basic to thought-provoking questions, kids came alive. They loved sharing their thoughts and flourished in the framework of the presented questions. So, I took this idea home and found my quiet sons opening up with these conversation starters – be still, my heart.

Asking The Right Questions Is Key To Teens Opening-Up: Conversation Starters for Families of Teens

But not everyone feels like opening up at all times. Some teens love to jump into all the talking, while others need to warm up. So, these conversation starters include a variety of questions like…

  • Expected get-to-know-you questions: If you could interview someone who is famous, who would that be?
  • Yes-or-no-quick questions: Is chili a type of soup – yes or no?
  • Get-to-know-their-world questions: What’s the best YouTube or TikTok video you’ve watched lately?
  • Get-to-to-know-their-friends questions: If you were planning a cross-country road trip from Florida to Washington State, which three people would you hope would go with you? Tell me why you chose each person.
  • Reflective questions: You come home super stressed, go into your room and lie down on your bed. You flip on a song – which song is it?
  • Insightful questions: If you were told you had to switch friend groups, which peers at school would you like to get to know more?
  • Faith questions: What do you understand about the trinity?
  • Plus, questions about quotes,  scripture verses, deep topics, tricky subjects and more…

400+ Conversation Starters for Teens Are Broken Into Three Categories

Then these questions are broken into three categories, depending on how deep you want to go with the people involved in the discussion:

  • 200+ Fun Get-to-Know-You Questions: Great for enjoyable conversations between friends, among extended family, or for low-stress evenings.
  • 100+ Dive-Deeper Questions: Designed for close family who wants to really get to know each other. There are hard subjects and personal topics covered in these conversations starters.
  • 100+ Faith-Filled Questions: These questions were created to help everyone reflect on their faith journeys and connect over deep discussions.

How To Use The Conversation Starters For Families Of Teens Resource

I’ve found the most success with these questions when I’ve made “a thing” of it. Meaning, just like when we’ve declared family movie night, we plan a family discussion time where everyone is prepared to talk. Here are some ideas of what this could look like:

  • Dinner discussion: We’ve cut up the questions and put them in a gallon-size ziplock bag. Then maybe every Tuesday is “talk night.” Each family member draws one question to ask the group and discuss.
  • Evening Activity: Instead of playing cards or watching a movie, grab some snacks and get comfortable and everyone picks a number. Those are the questions that you ask each other.
  • Car rides: When you’re riding to church or the store or a game together, maybe you pass the time with a question.
  • And more: There is no right or wrong way to implement the question asking – the purpose is to get to know each other. If teens are asked, they usually have good ideas of how to roll out fun and some would like to lead when/how the questions are asked.

The Goal Is To Connect Over These Conversations For Families Of Teens

Remember, the goal of the conversations is for those involved in the discussion to connect. So even if it’s not all going perfectly, if everyone is talking and laughing and getting to know each other – we’ve nailed it.

Here are 12 Conversation Starters For Families Of Teens for your family to try…

1. What’s that one funny thing that pops into your head when you’re supposed to be serious (at church, in class, at a funeral) that will make you laugh every time?

2. Is chili considered a soup? Yes or No. Is lasagna a casserole? Yes or No.

3. Would you rather be someone who makes a ton of money but isn’t sure if you made a positive
impact on the world or someone who made very little financially but touched many people’s lives?

4. When you’re having a terrible day, what do you do to calm yourself down and shake the stress?

5. If you just got elected governor of your state and you could make one rule that the whole state had to follow, what rule would it be?

6. If you were taking a road trip from Florida to Washington state, which three non-family members would your take with you?

7. What’s a bad habit you wish you could break? Or which bad habit do you have, but you don’t care one bit about giving it up?

8. What’s the best gift you’ve ever gotten? What’s the best gift you’ve ever given?

9. What’s the class at school that has the best environment? What’s the subject you find the most interesting? Which class do you have the most friends in?

10. What age do you think is the best to be? Why?

11. What is your favorite app on your phone? What’s one app that you really should give up?

12. Would you rather own your own business with some risk but more earning potential or would you rather work for someone else and have a stable income that covers your expenses but not much more?

If you liked those questions, grab the full list of 400+ The Conversation Starters For Families Of Teens…

Click the below link to grab the conversation starters for families of teens. As a bonus, I’ll add you to my monthly(ish) parenting tweens and teens inspirational email list. The monthly emails are free, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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. 

gifts for moms

Read 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.

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 school

Teen, these big reasons are why you’ll like trying hard in school

Inside: Is your teen struggling in school? This heartfelt explanation could help you explain why school is so important for teens. (And, no, it’s not about the grades.) 

To my teen about school, 

I could see that you felt loved. 

A Chipotle beef burrito bowl does that. Between ‘hurry up the bus is coming’ and ‘did you finish your schoolwork’ and ‘I’m working late tonight,’ it’d been a long week for the entire family. It felt good to share salty chips and queso, then settle in for a family movie. 

As your mom, I love loving you through creating a relaxing Friday evening. I also enjoy showing care through hugs and road trips and birthday cakes and Christmas gifts. It makes me feel good to love you in those ways. 

However, there’s something else that is love that’s not fun.

Lately, we’ve had fewer sweet family moments and more situations where I’m checking your grades and quality of work and making you finish missing homework and redo poorly executed assignments. It hasn’t been a savory Chipotle burrito bowl.  


But, hear my heart… 

I want you to do well in school, not because I don’t think you’re “good enough” and school will validate your worth. No way. I promise – you were good enough the minute you were born. 

Instead, it’s more that I don’t think you see yourself with the same wide-eyed marvel that I do.

You, lovely, you – you’re just what the world needs…your thoughts, your talents, your light. School helps you see your own beauty and gives you tools to walk into adulthood with confidence. 


Let me explain… 

School unlocks your mind.

As you discuss poetry, learn history, ponder literature and graph parabolas, your brain expands and your thoughts deepen and light bulbs turn on. You’ll experience contributing to classroom conversations in meaningful ways, and you’ll continue to discover how bright and clever are. 

School unearths your gifts.

As you join clubs, try out for teams, volunteer for activities and engage in class, you’ll learn what you like, don’t enjoy, and naturally have a knack for. The journey uncovers your strengths and interests, and you’ll start to see arrows pointing to how you might want to use your talents in your big, bright future. It’s exciting. 

Is your teen struggling in school? Here is a tangible way to help. Read more in the description.

School is where you’ll learn to be part of a community.

You’ll meet lots of people, many like you and many not – school is a place to learn about others and share who you are. Your social-skills will sharpen, and you’ll find yourself making friends and feeling connected. I know this area can be tough – but, I promise there are students who need a friend just like you. Your school is so happy to have you.

School is a place to grow believing in yourself.

When you take something hard (a school task) and figure out how to use your resources to conquer it, wow, just wow – it builds your confidence and self-pride in powerful ways. Then one day when a dream swirls in your gut that you have to follow (Start a business! Try a venture!), the confidence you built in school will, often without you even realizing it, accelerate you into taking the first needed step.  

School sharpens your life-skills.

The world needs your talents and your dreams. But a part of effectively sharing those gifts is knowing how to get organized, get stuff done well, be timely and communicate with others. School is a safe place to grow those skills, surrounded by teachers to cheer you on. 

School teaches you to reach for help.

Education isn’t easy: the social scene, curriculum, organization, and deadlines can all be tricky. But, my son, I am here for you. Your whole family is. As so are your teachers and counselors and coaches – they all choose to work with students as a career because they want to support you. In school, the challenges teach you to reach out – we’re all happily waiting. 

And, I could go on and on, because in my 20+ years teaching high school over and over I’ve watched students grow in confidence, skill, wisdom, maturity, joy, and purpose. It makes me proud; students are amazing human beings.  

Is your teen struggling in school? Here is a tangible way to help. Read more in the description.

But education is like a bank, you have to put something into it, to get something out.  

So, we’re going to make some deposits by continually making school a priority. You’ll keep concentrating on completing all of your assignments, turning in quality work, and studying before tests. We’ll focus on effort over grades. And yes, I can imagine – based on past experiences they’ll be some conflict over this, including screen time being taken away – but it won’t be because I don’t love you. 

Quite the opposite. 

It’s because I love you more than anyone else; I will always look at you with star-eyed wonder for the gift that you are. And I will always believe in you – forever. 

Love, Your Mom 

Is your teen struggling in school? Do you need a tangible way to help?

My 13yo struggled 1st quarter, so I figured it was a chance to put my (slightly over-sappy) thoughts together on why I think education is so important, and how it’s not about getting perfect grades.

Thankfully, 2nd quarter was much better because of one simple trick we tried that clicked.

You can read more about that and the sources of the books that helped me the most in the description 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. 

gifts for moms

Read the full motivate your teen to 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.

Help Your Teen to Thrive in School Series

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR PARENTS
Parents, Help Your Kids Thrive in School By Asking These 4 Questions
Why I’m Not Freaking Out that My Struggling Reader Has Low Reading Scores
A Mom’s 1st Day of School Wishes
Moms, You’ll Better Enjoy the End of the School Year Remembering THIS
*My Teen Was Struggling In School (With Distance/Hybrid Learning), So This Is What I Did

GETTING ORGANIZED
Kid’s Morning Routine Checklist: Get Your Kids Out the Door Happy and On-Time
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

My teen was struggling in school, so I did this…

(Inside: Teens in school can be a challenge, especially when we’re in a pandemic and the hybrid/distance-learning is not clicking for them. My teen was struggling in school, so this is what I did…)

There’s nothing like sending messages to my high school students’ parents to let them know their kids need to turn in missing work, then looking at my own teen’s grades and my eyes bugging out like a 1980’s cartoon character.

Motherhood is humbling like that.
 
“What happened?” I asked my middle schooler about his poor grades, “This just isn’t like you.” (School doesn’t necessarily come easy to him, but he works at it and usually does well.)
 
My 13yo shrugged.
 
I waited
.
And waited some more.
 
What finally tumbled out is that 5 weeks into hybrid-school, it’s sinking in that this is the new norm. And he’s over it – he wants to be in school full-time. He likes learning the lesson and being able to start the homework in class, so if he has questions, he can ask his teacher or classmates. He’s finding it increasingly harder to self-motivate to sit in front of a screen on his distance learning days and crank out assignments – for hours. The novelty of education from home (like in the spring when he did well) has worn off.

He’s not alone.

In my high school grade book, I’ve noticed a dip in students turning in assignments on their at-home learning days. Some students are acing homework completion (as always), but some are – well, having a moment. Or two.
 
Even though, as a professional, I know my son isn’t alone, still in mom-life, my kids’ grade plummet pushes a sensitive button. Education is crazy-important to me, so if my child isn’t doing well my brain instantly entertains the worst-case scenarios: What if this means he’ll never do well again? Will he get into college? Or get hired? How am I failing as a mom in this area? (I am never dramatic or hard to be around at all.)
 
Then, I want to fix it all. All of his struggles, all of his disappointments, and for-the-love…all of his grades.
 
But, I can’t. School is on him.
Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens. We’re all guiding our teens to find success in school. Join here.

And he is capable – all of our kids are.

Our kids are capable of getting organized and figuring out what class to do when.
 
Our kids are capable of navigating this updated technology.
 
Our kids are capable of reading the directions closely and following them.
 
Our kids are capable of producing quality work.
 
When they get stuck, they are capable of using their resources (notes, videos, materials, classmates, teachers, tech staff, The Google) to figure out how to understand the course content and complete their assignments well. Their schoolwork is age-appropriate, and they can do it. Even if they don’t feel like it or are struggling with distance learning.
 
(Side note: I’m painting with a broad stroke here. Teens struggling with mental illness or other serious challenges during this pandemic might need to pay attention to their personal lives first. The schools have many resources to help with this!)

However, even though I know my child is capable, my inner compass told me that my kid needs additional support right now. So, here’s what I did…

Together, my son and I went upstairs to examine his workplace. Talk about the aftermath of a category 5 hurricane – who can work in this chaos? Together, we straightened his room and desk.
 
Then, we looked through Campus (grades) and Schoology (calendars and assignments) and made his to-do list for the next day. Also, we agreed (him unenthusiastically) that I would need to check in more to make sure he’s both doing quality work and turning it in. We decided our method of communication would be through this checklist. (Read more in the description here.)  Of course, all with the goal of him reclaiming his independence.
 
 
I know my teen and I will probably clash over homework as he labors towards getting back on track; I don’t expect life to be flawless. However, I refuse to say that a struggle in school is telling the story of my kid. Or that I’m failing as a mom because he’s not producing top scores right now. This is just a normal part of mom life.

And then, as moms of teens so often do, I said a prayer and took a step back, leaving the responsibility of the next day’s schoolwork on him.

We had a plan and that felt good.
 
But if it doesn’t work (or only works for a short time), then we’ll next try something different. After all, problem-solving, resourcefulness, and loving our kids through it all is a mom-raising-tweens-and-teen’s superpower.

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.

gifts for moms

Teens in school can be a challenge, especially when we’re in a pandemic and the hybrid/distance-learning is not clicking for them, as I talked about in this article. But school can be hard even in the best of times. Be encouraged by reading the full “Help Your Teens 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.

Help Your Teens Thrive in School Series

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR PARENTS
Parents, Help Your Kids Thrive in School By Asking These 4 Questions
Why I’m Not Freaking Out that My Struggling Reader Has Low Reading Scores
A Mom’s 1st Day of School Wishes
Moms, You’ll Better Enjoy the End of the School Year Remembering THIS
My Teen Was Struggling In School (Hybrid/Distance-Learning), So I Did This 

GETTING ORGANIZED
Kid’s Morning Routine Checklist: Get Your Kids Out the Door Happy and On-Time

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

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens. We’re all guiding our teens to find success in school. Join here.