I’m starting a movement to take over the acronym BFF from the tweens and claim it as a dorky mom-ism! From now on, BFF is officially… Best Family Friends. When raising kids, having another family to spend time with can make a huge difference in how much joy, laughter, love, and support you will feel. Your BFF can be your brother and sister-in law-and their kids, an unrelated family that has been a part of your lives for a long time, a neighbor family that is a part of your everyday lives, or can even be a family that lives far away. This BFF is simply another family who not only knows your kids, but loves your kids. Your BFF is another family who can be called upon to share joys or sorrows. Your BFF can help you survive all the phases of your life, including the teen years. The phrase It Takes a Village to Raise a Child comes to mind. Think of this BFF as a part of your village. These days it seems we have less and less village happening. Families are busy, involved in many different activities and sports and even if you work hard to keep your immediate family close and connected, it is sometimes hard to find another family or another group of people who have been and will be a part of your lives for the long haul. We could all use some support. Find another family and offer your support. You might be surprised how much you and your kids get in return!
As our children have grown through one seemingly hard phase after another our BFF has consistently kept me focused on recognizing what we all know; the days are long, but the years are incredibly short. These days, these difficult times, these exhausting times will pass and these kids will grow up. Our BFF and I even have a motto: “Making Memories”! We were able to look at one another when we had a fussy baby who refused to nap and all we wanted was ten minutes of silence and say, “Making Memories” with exhaustion in our voice. We were supporting each other in the idea that this moment in time is important and valuable and we are doing exactly what we need to be doing. We were acknowledging that we would look back on this exact, tiring moment and long for that sweet baby. Sometimes we wanted to strangle each other, but mostly we felt supported and understood.
And when our toddlers were throwing a colossal fit about the tiniest detail, we could say sarcastically, “Making Memories” and would again support each other with the idea that this too is a valuable moment in our lives that when we look back, our pictures and memories from that day will only include the highlights of our toddlers discovering a new adventure of catching frogs that day rather than the tantrum of the moment.
And when our school aged children came in from playing covered from head to toe in mud we could say, “Making Memories” and know that someday we will remember their spirit of adventure and their quest for conquering all things with energy and passion instead of the endless piles of laundry and mud in their ears! And now that they are teenagers, we can support each other in so many new ways and remind ourselves that each of these hard parts of raising a teenager is contributing to our memory pile and will become treasured stories someday! Here are the ways our BFF has supported and helped raise our teenagers:
- Our two families have children of various genders and ages, but these kids are all friends. These kids are different aged siblings than the ones they have. They have learned how to talk to each other, care for each other, pick on each other, argue with each other, but also how to worry about and love each other. They are watching each other grow up and are feeling pride and wonder in seeing their friends learn and grow. These kids are a part of each other’s successes and will be there for each other in the failures.
- When I am terrified my kid is making bad decisions and not handling herself well I can call my BFF mom and run it by her. She can tell me it’s no big deal and I should trust my kid (because she knows my kid) or she can say, yeah, she messed up; here is how you can help her learn.
- If any of our combined six kids needs a little reassurance or is feeling down, I know beyond any doubt that we will all be there to pick them up. If any of the kids doubt that they are worthy in this world and their parents only think that because they have to, we have a whole other family that believes it too!
- I know that if my teens need to talk to someone neutral, they have two more adults in their life who I know I can trust and they know they can trust. Back up parents. How great is that?
- But most importantly during this stage with teenagers, we have fun as a family when our two families are together. We plan game nights and camping trips and gingerbread house decorating and all of a sudden an activity my teens would make miserable if it was just us, becomes hilarious and fun and I get to see my teens laugh and smile and sometimes even giggle again!
Who is your BFF? How are you helping to raise your BFF teenagers?
Plan an adventure and invite another family!
Invite another family to your house for a Minute to Win in Competition or challenge another family to Family Feud!
Have some fun!
Spend time with another family. They just may be in the market for a BFF too!
Joy Hartman is a family therapist in Wisconsin who has worked with teenagers and their families for over twenty years. She now has the unique pleasure of raising three teenagers of her own! Joy helps teens and parents find their own unique strengths and talents to make the complicated journey to adulthood one filled with support, love and little bit of humor!
Visit her website at : joyhartman.com
Like her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Survivingteens?ref=bookmarks