Sunday, May 2, 2010

On raising teens - a melancholy mood tonight

I've been in a melancholy mood tonight....a little bit sad and a lot thoughtful.  Most of the blogs I read are of parents with small children.  I enjoy these blogs - the homeschooling, freezer cooking, deal-finding, organizing, etc.   However, I want to stress to everyone that parenting teens is arguably more difficult than tots. 

Our children are born to us, gifts from God.  The love we feel is awesome, a bond that is beyond words.  It is natural that we have hopes and aspirations for them from day one.  We pray for their safety, health, and happiness.  They grow and we do our best to guide them, instill our values, and encourage them down the path we believe is right.

What do we do when the path they choose for themselves goes away from ours, like in the picture above?  Our tracks start out the same, then slowly start to separate.....eventually becoming 2 independent tracks.  They may go parallel, an independent life but with decisions and actions similar to our own lives - which is frequently what we envision for them.  Or they may curve sharply, turn perpendicular, vastly away from our own path with decisions and life choices very different than our own.

This is the basis of my melancholy tonight.  The Queen is blossoming into a young woman that i'm very proud of, but I fear is on the perpendicular path.  She is responsible, smart, and independent.  However, I'm sad to say, some of the values that I personally hold so deep, seem to be missing from her life. 
Who's responsible for that?  Is it me?  Where did i go wrong?  or is it just the person she is forming into? Or - the classic teenage question - is it just a phase? 

At what point do i let go, stop trying to control everything, and let her decisions (and the consequences for them) stand?  In less than 2 years, she will - hopefully -  be on her own living a college life.  Truthfully, while i believe some of her decisions are mistakes, I can't say that they all are......she is just growing to be her own person.  A person that I love unconditionally, but struggle to accept some facets of  her personality.....

So many of the blogs I read are those of homeschooling families.  These children are held close to the family with many opportunities to immerse them in faith, instill them with values, and maintain close watch on their hearts.  They focus on learning domesticity, and are able to pursue their academic interests at their own pace.  I find them very interesting.

The reality is, this has not been our life.  I'm a full-time working mother (and have been for many years), they have been through a hateful divorce (after 13 years of marriage), they have been public schooled, in daycares, preschools, and babysitter's homes.  They learned at an early age to be independent and flexible.  They have never felt what is like to have a mom that is always there, as much as I wanted to be.  We have gone to church, and not gone to church.  Their father chooses to not have a relationship with them.  He couldn't get past his hatred for me, not even for his children.  It broke their hearts, and mine broke for them.  By the grace of God, they have a step-father that loves them, and they him, though the integration of this new family hasn't always been easy.   I've asked a lot of my children, especially the older 2 (the Underdog was less than 2 when her dad left, she doesn't really remember him). 

How do you get past the guilt and grief you feel for the life you wished you had given them?  I just don't know. 


  1. Too bad you cant just walk out your door and up the street and into my house. We need to talk. This teen thing is incredibly difficult I know. Teens lean heavily on peers and I firmly believe that the one thing that keeps teens in your boat and helps to instill your values is a church youth group that backs up the parent view. Tink is in the youth now and its amazing to see her growing in the Lord. Yes, as you know, I am one of those homeschoolers who keep mine closely tucked at my side - using curriculum that reinforces our families values and teaching and admonishing them in Scriptures daily. And yet I cant tell you how instrumental the church youth group has been in Tinks life! We have over 100 young people now in Junior high and high school. Tomorrow they start a three day teen revival and are expecting 400 teenagers to show up. The speaker is world renowned and dynamite!
    I think if I were you the place I would start is to find a church with godly young people and get you and your kids involved. Put your kids around people that are going the same direction you are. Its hard to try to instill values at home but then throw them to the world and it's ideology and institutions for the large part of their day. Only the Daniels will stand and sadly they are few and far between!
    Love ya.

  2. I am so glad to find this post ( I came over from Lifeasmom).I have been experiencing the same emotions this past week -even broke down into tears the other day - so hope it helps you to know you are not alone as it did me when I read your blog entry. I, too, read these homeschool mom stories and think, "Oh, if they only knew what the "real" world was like!".I worked when my child was born until he was in the 5th grade as a 4-H Youth Development Agent. I now work for my church's childrens dept. part time when he is in school. Even so, he has been and continues to be quite a challenge - very independent and stubborn, smart and curious, good-looking and talented. He makes choices every day that can destroy his future. I can't stop him - I can only state my values, give him boundaries and discipline him for disobeying the family rules. He is active in a church youth group but that does not stop him from making stupid decisions. I guess it is a part of growing up and some children just push the envelope. All I know is God loves him as much as I do and God is here to give me support. I pray everyday that my son will grow up to be a caring, capable, contributing member of society -and hope he doesn't make the Police Blotter on the way!!! Just wanted you to know that your guilt over family issues probably has nothing to do with it... my husband and I have been happily married for 33 years, we both are held in high esteem in our community and church, and we both "know" how to raise children. So it makes it doubly bewildering to wonder what in the world is going wrong!!! You will be in my prayers as you struggle through this life stage.

  3. My children are not teenagers yet, so I don't have any points of sagacity for you. What I can say is that our children who have been born during this trying time of the earths history were prepared before they were born to face the 'fiery darts'. They have the tools needed. It is our role as parents to help them hone those tools into useful objects against the advesary. It sounds like you are doing the best that you know how, and since no one is perfect, things haven't gone perfectly. But it is the best that it can be. Keep your chin up and know that God will make us the difference for our imperfections. Don't compare yourself to other moms, they do what is right for their family, and you do what is right for yours. These are YOUR children and not THEIR children, they were sent to you for a purpose. You were meant to be a family to help each other learn and reach your (both of you and your children's) full potential.

  4. I so appreciate everyone's support and comments, I haven't posted much "heartfelt" stuff on this blog - but writing helps and I can't think of a more supportive community than other blogging mamas!

    Mrs Darling - I soo wish I could curl up on your couch with a cup of coffee and listen to your wisdom in person. As always, you are right. I so miss Grandview!

  5. Wow, I read this feeling sad but also relief, as I too love the mommy blogs - but often find myself in a different place. I am married to my children's father, but their have been problems, they are schooled, I am working, etc. We have been in the church and out of the church. My oldest is a good kid but I see things in him that scare me sometimes. He is a real chauvunist and sometimes I don't know how to handle him when he disobeys.

    I think Alicia's comment was right on the money. Absolutely true. God knows what He is doing!


Thanks for reading and commenting!

How many totally awesome people have visited?