FAMILY/ Kids/Family/ Love/ Parenting/ Spiritual

Parenting Pre-Teens

“Don’t let yourself become so concerned with raising a good kid that you forget you already have one.”
When I saw this graphic on PInterest it hit me right in the head and heart.  Hard.
My girls are now 13, 11 and 9.  They are great girls.
But, we have definitely hit middle school years with my two oldest and as I watch them try to maneuver in the muck of what middle school years can bring, I have felt fear creep in.  
Amy + fear = not a good thing.  
It creeps in on me, one thought will enter.  Another the next day. Before I know it my stomach is in a ball of worries and I feel the world is on my shoulders and it is up to me to save the world.  
What am I afraid of?  Who do I think I am that I can save the world?
It seems to come down to this.  I don’t want my kids to struggle.  I don’t want them to learn life lessons the hard way.  I don’t want them to make bad decisions in these years that will take a lot of years to work through & heal from.  I don’t want them to walk the path I did, a path that started in middle school.
Fear. Fear. Fear.
It is interesting. 
When they were little, their struggles and misbehavior brought out something else in me.  
It is really easy for a fit throwing 3 year old to make Mommy look and feel like a total loser parent.  I cared about how their behavior made ME look.
God and I worked through that one, and honestly, I kinda miss that being the issue, for I’d rather be in pain and have to work through it then see my girls experience pain and them have to work through it.  Bring back the 3 year old fits!
I’d take those any day over watching my girls sort out who they are and seeing them struggle with what we all, especially as females, can struggle with– identity.
Identity is huge in middle school.  What defines me?  My friends? My clothes? The phone in my hand?  The brand of my boots?  The way my hair is curled that day?  

The world and their peers scream YES, these things matter and define you.  You and your peeps need to look and act a certain way for you to be accepted and loved.  This leaves the question constantly on their middle school brains “Am I ok?”  “Do I fit?”

I feel like my words are whispers they cannot hear over their peers screams right now, and honestly that is my fault.

My fear causes my reactions to be in the moment and they take on a lecturing tone. 

Mom lecturing =  blank stares, eyes rolling & a mind and heart that is tuned out. My whispers fall on deaf ears, although my lectures are far from whispers.
Why do I fall into this–the lecture? 

Back to the yuck–I’ve seen one of my girls think that if the other sister dresses and looks what they would define as “dorky” that it somehow defines her or in some way reflects on her and makes her look bad.  What?  Oh that is yucky…so yucky that when I realized that this was an issue last week it was my turn to stare blankly with my mouth hanging open, silenced–but only for a minute before my lecture started.  
But, can’t I relate to that?  I used to let my 3 year olds fits define me as a mom, and I was a grown woman.
I should not have been surprised when the next day, as I was wearing an over sized Nebraska tshirt with jeans and we were expecting family company, my daughter was horrified that I was actually going to wear it. Now there are even opinions on what I wear?  Oh Lord have mercy!  I did look silly and it WAS a shirt I usually wear with pajama pants, but REALLY?  Do you really feel less because your Mom looks a little dweeby?  Does this really effect how you see yourself and feel about yourself?
Why am I so surprised when they struggle?  
My heart felt heavy a few days ago with all these issues on my brain.  I had lunch with a super great girlfriend, whose gentle encouragement pointed out all the wonderful things she sees in my girls.  She put the graphic above into her own words, which I think is why it hit so hard when I saw it today on Pinterest. God has to do that with me you know…work in themes.  Say things in more ways than one. Hit me over the head a few times, lovingly of course.  I love it when He does this, for He knows what is going to work on my heart.
The same day my Mother-In-Law had to drop something off for me, and the timing was perfect, as I was still sorting through my thoughts and emotions when it comes to this parenting thing and they came blurting out the minute she sat down. 
She gave me such practical advice.  She helped me figure out how to stop the lecture and just simply talk to my girls.  She gave me example questions to ask them, to stir their own thinking and their own little hearts.  I felt hopeful right away, stomach unknotting and weight off my shoulders.  
It is working.  I am seeing that my lecturing can be very shaming and guilt producing, and that is so not what I want to do.  Instead, I want to ask them about their hearts, to guide them into thinking about who they really are and who they want to be.  To remind them that God thinks the world of them and loves them fully, and that there is nothing they can or can’t do to make Him love them more or less.  These are the things that bring on true identity. 
I don’t have it all figured out yet, and I definitely want to get my thoughts together more when it comes to revealing to my girls all the amazing things their Creator thinks about them.  Identity is my key word that I will focus on, and I will teach them who God says they are.
I will also choose to look at the good in them.  There is so, so very much.  When I chose to see all the gifts in them, it calms fear and puts it in its place.  It reminds me Who has the them.  It takes the world off my shoulders and puts it where it actually is and where it belongs; in His hands.

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  • Kathy Wallace
    December 14, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Oh Amy! I can’t tell you how much I can relate to this post. I have boys and I never dreamed I would have issues relating to them, that I do. I tend to preach and as soon as I start they turn off and it is so important to keep the communication lines open. Thank you for sharing this, I no longer feel alone in this struggle.

  • simone17
    December 14, 2012 at 7:17 am

    Fantastic post, thank you!!!

  • lisa beyer
    December 14, 2012 at 2:24 am

    I can’t tell you how good and relieved I feel after reading this! I have been stressed out for weeks with my 12 year old over the same thing. Actually had this same quote on MY pinterest months ago. It certainly keeps it in perspective doesn’t it?! Its nice to know another Christian mother is dealing with the same stuff ; raising healthy Godly children! God Bless!


  • Diana
    December 13, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    I needed this today! I have a three-yr-old daughter (and baby girl), so I’m still in the frustrating tantrum stage. But I am reminded of all her great qualities, and I am certainly not in a hurry to be in your stage. 😉

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