When I had young children, there wasn’t a lot of support or encouragement to be had for mothers. A new mother often found herself isolated from the rest of the world, with no where to turn for help in acquiring parenting skills. With the passing of years, things have changed. There are now support groups for mothers of toddlers and play groups for pre-schoolers. Many churches sponsor “Mom’s Day Out”, where they offer free babysitting so Mom can have a free afternoon. There are many books and magazines in print that are published that encourage women to stay at home and raise their families. If you like surfing the web, you will find scores of “mommy” websites and e-zines to subscribe to that provide ideas and encouragement to women who have chosen homemaking as their career, decided to work from the home, or just want ideas on parenting. But one area I feel is sorely lacking in these activities and publications are resources and encouragement for parents of teenagers.
While in today’s society, many will acknowledge the importance of a mother of young children staying home to raise her children, the significance of being available for your child during the teenage years is often overlooked. It is assumed by many that by the time children reach adolescence, they are quite capable of taking care of themselves, but this conjecture is far from accurate. A teenager still needs the time, attention, routine, and supervision that is given by a mother who has made it her life’s work to raise her family.
The teenage years are a time of change. While they are no longer a child, your teen is also not an adult. It is a time of change and confusion. At times they can hardly wait to join the adult world, yet at other times they’d rather never grow up. They want the freedom to go out and have a good time, yet they want to be taken seriously. They might be bored and looking for excitement, yet they might be busy and anxious about how to get everything done. They worry about how they look and what they wear. They worry about the future.
At this time in their lives, teenagers bodies are changing at a rapid pace. This affects them physically, emotionally, and mentally. Many teenagers become self-conscious about their changing bodies and feel that they stick out in a crowd. While they feel isolated and that no one is like them, they strive to be like their friends, becoming easily influenced by their peers. Teenagers are often temperamental and moody. It can be a very trying time for the whole family as your child moves through the teen years.
While our teens are changing, so is our role as a parent. While our concerns as parents of pre-schoolers were often limited to the isolation we felt and how to squeeze housework into a day full of chasing after busy little toddlers, now as parents of teenagers we have new concerns.
As our children are maturing they are becoming more independent. They now want to make more decisions for themselves and to take charge of their lives. Because of their growing independence they are now faced with making many decisions concerning drugs, sex, eating habits, grades, and friends. While it’s a healthy sign when teens want to decide who their friends will be and how they’ll spend their time, they still need guidance. And we need to be available to give them that guidance at this critical time in their lives.
The training of our children does not end at the age of thirteen, but will
be a job that occupies our time well into our children’s adulthood. We
need to make sure that we continue to give them the love, security, guidance,
and supervision they need during this critical age so that when they enter
adulthood they will have become responsible, independent adults capable
of handling the pressures of the adult world. This kind of training takes
time. As your child grows from infancy through the elementary years, and
into the adolescence, don’t lose sight of your mission as a parent - to
be available to raise your family to be the best that they can be.