The Teen Years: Holding on to the Wonder

Holding on to the Wonder

As a teenager, I’d secretly lift clothes from my mom’s closet and wear them. When Mom left for work in the morning, I’d wait for her car to pull out of the driveway. Then I’d go into her closet and slip on her expensive designer jeans before I left for school. In the afternoon, I’d get home before she did and hang her jeans back in their place.

Mom didn’t discover it for months, until the day she slid those Calvin Klein jeans off the hanger, only to see that they were faded and frayed. Boy, was she mad! We had a big fight, but it was worth it because I’d already worn those designer jeans to school for 5 months.

Remembering this now helps me keep perspective for those times when my blood starts to boil because I can’t find a scarf or jacket that my teen girl snagged!

Parenting a teenaged girl is like riding a roller coaster.

The teen years represent some of the most joyful years for parents. There are funny, laughing, happy days. But there are also exploding, angry, depressed days as our children wrestle with independence, self-esteem, and hormones that sky rocket and plummet. How can we accentuate the positives and minimize the negatives?

We have to keep our eyes on the miracle. A child slowly transforms into a young adult before your eyes. Ephesians 2:10 says that your teenaged girl is God’s masterpiece:

God s Masterpiece

Your daughter is a work of art in progress. If you wake up to the wonder, you’ll be amazed as she grows into the person God created her to be.

 

Your daughter is a work of art ~ be amazed as you watch her grow into a masterpiece. #lovemom @BetsydeCruz Click To Tweet

 

4 Keys to Keeping the Wonder of the Teen Years:

Relationship

On the surface, it looks like our teen girls don’t need us as much as they did when they were small. In reality, they need relationship with us more than ever. Your daughter wants to know that you value her as a person. Ask questions about her dreams and interests. Listen. Go on girl dates. Developing a close relationship now paves the way for lifelong friendship after she leaves home.

Keep Your Cool

When she explodes at you, your daughter needs you to stay calm. Even when you want so badly to dish it right back at her, remember that one careless word can crush her heart. When a volatile girl pushes your buttons, staying serene requires supernatural Holy Spirit power, so give Him the control. Keep your response quiet, and she’ll calm down.

Stay Positive

Foster your teen girl’s self-esteem by looking for ways to encourage her. What is she doing right? Cultivate positive interaction. What do you love doing together? Make popcorn, ride bikes, or watch your favorite TV series. Have fun! Giggle and get crazy together. Enjoy the person she’s becoming.

Don’t Forget Faith

The most important thing you can do is to pray for your girl. Encourage her to have her own quiet time, and talk about what you’re both learning from God. Keep an open dialogue and encourage her to think critically about how to respond when the world challenges her faith.

The roller coaster ride of parenting teens has its ups and downs. I’m no expert, but I’m trying to keep my focus on the wonder and enjoy the ride. I hope to encourage my daughter as she grows to be the masterpiece God created.

Now it’s your turn: What helps you to keep things positive between you and your teenager?

Betsy de Cruz headshot

Betsy de Cruz enjoys God, life, and dark roast coffee. She and her family live in the Middle East. Most days she feels privileged to live overseas; other days she wants to pull her hair out and catch the next plane home. Betsy’s vision is to encourage women to get God’s Word in, so their faith can spill out, even during life’s bumpy moments. You can find Betsy at her blog, faithspillingover.com , on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Bubble photo: Kevin Frost, Creative Commons

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32 comments

  1. Dawn says:

    Betsy, this is great advice. I also have a teen girl, and it’s thrilling and fun, and scary. She takes my clothes too, but usually asks. When she does, I’m just happy that she actually thinks her mom’s clothes are cool enough for her. ; ). Thank you for sharing your wisdom today.

  2. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup says:

    I love this post, Betsy, as a teacher of many young girls.

    I have to tell you, though, as a parent of 2 teen boys, I found the advice here to be not too different.

    Your last piece of advice about keeping the faith is the most important, in my opinion.

    Thanks so much for sharing your heart with us in this wonderful series. May He continue to fill your cup to overflowing!

  3. ~Karrilee~ says:

    Love this! My only Girlie is all grown up and turned 20 just last week… no more ‘teenager’ for me… and we are still close and she has grown up to be someone I just love hanging out with! We managed to get through those teen years nearly unscathed… but even in the rought spots – we used those 4 keys you mention above and we got through it stronger for it!

  4. Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says:

    Betsy,
    I remember people asking me, when my first (a daughter) became a teen, if I was going back to work. I think my answer stunned some as I said, “No, because she needs a mom now more than ever.” Fortunately I was able to stay home, because teens more rarely open up and you kind of have to be there when they do. They won’t admit that they need their mom…but truly they do. Good to be linking up next to you at Kelly’s RaRaLinkup.
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • Betsy de Cruz says:

      Yes, Bev! I agree! Teens need a mom as much as or more than toddlers do. And you’re so right. You never know when they’ll open up. I try to remind myself of how much they need me even if they act like they don’t!

    • Jeannie says:

      Bev, I had lunch with a friend just an hour or so after reading this post, and although she does not read this blog she said EXACTLY what you’ve said here about being present for the rare times when teens open up. Someone must be trying to tell me something …

      Thanks for this post, Betsy: with a 16-year-old and an almost-13-year-old in the house, these are things I need to keep in mind minute by minute. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Mary Geisen says:

    I love this! I had a love/hate relationship with my sons teen years but it made me into the mom I am today and for that I am so grateful. I believe it is in the teen years that a parent develops their rhythm and you start to prepare yourself for when you inevitably must let go. Beautiful post Betsy!

    • Betsy de Cruz says:

      You’re further along the road than I am, Mary, but I suspect you’re right. I’m paving the way now for my future relationship with my daughter. Thanks for that word of wisdom, friend!

  6. Kristine says:

    Oh yes, especially #4! My teen is definitely pushing into independence lately, often leaving his mother in tears:( But the next day, he can make me laugh like nobody’s business. Isn’t it funny how teens can do that? And yes, I remember doing (ahem) things like that as a teen myself. I once wore a pair of shoes to school against my mother’s wishes, then hid them under the seat in the car where I thought she wouldn’t find them. My mom was too smart to fall for that trick! LOL

  7. Betsy de Cruz says:

    Thank you so much, Heather, for reading this and commenting. I think you’re right! A lot of this is applicable to boys as well. I have one of those, too! May God give you grace with yours.

  8. Ruthie Gray says:

    You are so right, Betsy. I raised 3 teenage girls, one of which was very dramatic. I always thought to myself, “do NOT get on the roller coaster.” It was always best when I didn’t. Listening without exploding was always a big key too! My youngest just turned 19, and you know what? The teen years were my very favorites too.
    Always a good read and application, Betsy!

    • Betsy de Cruz says:

      Thanks, Ruthie. That’s amazing that your youngest is 19! You look pretty young to me! 🙂 Yep, I have a sweet drama queen too. She woke me up at 5:30 A.M. this morning telling me she was having a heart attack!!!

  9. Michele Morin says:

    Betsy, no daughters here, but I do have a son who is my clone in personality, and we went head to head almost daily during his middle teen years. God gave me this thought to help me through those combat years: “Be thankful for that boy! When he skillfully parries all your good arguments, be thankful for his good mind. When he chafes under your direction, be thankful for his independent spirit. When he tries to rule the roost and control things that are not his to control, be thankful for his leadership skills.”
    We made it through, and now that he has married and produced an adorable grandboy . . . well, I see that God was right all along!

    • Betsy de Cruz says:

      That’s funny, Michele. My son also mirrors me in personality. I agree with you that the ones who butt heads with us and, ahem, express their opinions, probably have future leadership skills. We’ve gotta look on the bright side!

  10. Karen Brown says:

    Betsy- What a blessing your words are. I love your list, especially the call to remember that relationship is the goal. When we keep our eyes on the miracle of motherhood and on what God is doing above and beyond our work, we just might survive the teen years. This message is perfect for me today. Thanks for sharing it so beautifully!

  11. Lois Flowers says:

    Thank you for sharing this wisdom, Betsy. As the mom of 10- and 13-year-old daughters, it is comforting and encouraging to know that the teen years can actually be very good! I can see the benefits of each of your four keys, especially the part about relying on the Holy Spirit’s power to keep my cool when things get intense. 🙂

  12. Abby McDonald says:

    Betsy, it is so wonderful to see you here today. Although I don’t have girls, I think these points can be applied to boys as well. I sometimes am anxious about my kids becoming teenagers, so thank you for sharing your wisdom and letting me know there is joy in that phase too! It’s so easy to look around at the state of the world and worry about what’s to come, but God is in control and I know he will be there with me each step of the way. Blessings to you, sweet friend.

    • Betsy de Cruz says:

      Oh yes, Abby. Your word about not looking ahead and worrying is sweet advice to me today as I think of sending my son off to college. And yes, I think these things apply to guys as well. You might be surprised at how kids begin to change in the pre-teen years too. It was a bit shock for me when my 11 year old was acting like a teen already!

  13. Tiffany says:

    As always, such wise words and perspective, Betsy. Even though I’m navigating the cusp of teenagedom with my son, your points are so valuable. The relationship we have has been such a key to navigating the ups and downs of his desire for more independence. Being sure that he knows how much we want to hear his opinion and value his position in our family and that even though he may not get his way, his words are important – and we always want to hear him. Thanks for sharing with us from your experience!

    • Betsy de Cruz says:

      That is so wise to let him know you value his opinion and want to include him in some decisions, Tiffany. We had the challenge of letting my son decide for himself not to take a gap year after all before college. He’d said forever he would take one, and his change in plans affected our whole family since we’re relocating to America for his first year in college. Giving your boy practice in decision-making now is a good thing!

  14. Kelly Balarie says:

    Oh my Betsy, I am so thankful for your wise words. I need to grab hold of these truths and carry them in my pocket until I need them. I also love your story! How adorable were you? You little sneaky one you? Cheering you on from the #RaRalinkup on Purposefulfaith.com

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