Happy Mother’s Day to All Moms of Teenagers!

WORD_ART_happy-mothers-day

 

Mother’s Day! Flowers, breakfast in bed, sweet hand drawn cards, matching Mother/ Daughter Outfits, cooperative kids posing for pictures with the flowers and their color coordinated moms!

 

That is not the reality with teenagers! Heck, it wasn’t even my reality with little kids. I would like to say that’s how it used to go. I’d like to say that we have the most gorgeous photos of my kids and I. But I can’t. When I became a mom, my mom gave me photo album with the most beautiful words inscribed. Something about you’re going to be a great mom, blah blah blah. I was supposed to have that gorgeous picture each year with my babies to remember our special bond through the years. Um yeah. I think I have two years. And the pictures are not that gorgeous. One kid had a snotty nose and the other was going through some weird hair thinning phase. And let’s face it; I hate all pictures of myself, so even if the kids were adorable, I’d probably still not find the picture worthy of a Mother’s Day Ad!!!

And now my kids are teenagers. Mother’s Day means no flowers, unless I remind them several times and text them the day before while they are out and about.  I shudder at the thought of them making me breakfast in bed because they are far too old to be making that big a mess in the kitchen. It is no longer cute. Now I fear for their ability to actually make a meal for themselves. Plus a mixing bowl size of Peanut Butter Captain Crunch can no longer be metabolized by this over forty mom! My teen’s typical breakfast would send me into some kind of sugar crisis! And handmade cards? This generation hasn’t hand written anything since kindergarten. I might get a text or a post or a status update with my name mentioned, but I assure you, no crayon will hit paper in the house of a teenager! Oh and matching outfits? Every once in a while I’m lucky to get a, “you look OK”, WITHOUT an eye roll. And I’m pretty sure any attempts at a color coordinated outfit thing would cause great pain to my teenager. But I would never dare try!

Somewhat good news as a mom of teens on Mother’s Day;  I can be guaranteed as many hours of silence in the house as I want on Mother’s Day. They will sleep until the next day if I let them. So, I can say to all the moms of little kids who wake up at crazy early hours, someday your kids will sleep in. But as much as I do not want to dash any hope you may have, the day that your preteen sleeps in late, some automatic switch gets thrown in your body, and you can no longer sleep past 7 am! You are just “done sleeping”. What the heck. I’ve been looking forward to sleeping in for so many years and now that I can, I wake up early. Like my grandmother?!?! But, mornings are generally pretty quiet and peaceful.

What I have learned through the years of failing to keep up with the Mother’s Day album is that my expectations are rarely the reality. And it turns out, the reality is what I love the most. The reality is the memories. Those early pictures with the snotty noses, crazy hair and postpartum mom body, highlight the best part of those years. I don’t remember what I wanted the picture to look like at the time. I remember what it really looked like. We weren’t that put together, we weren’t that cute, we weren’t always at our best, but the memory is a Mom with her daughters. It is me with my babies. And we survived those years as best we could. We made memories, we grew, we learned, we were bored and we were tired. Be we were a happy family. And I know for certain I will look back on the Mother’s Days when they were teenagers and find love, humor and an appreciation for this time in our life! They are moody, irritable, sometimes rude, but mostly growing up into beautiful people who will someday happily sit next to me for a picture in slightly color coordinated outfits! Not this year. But some day! Until then I will continue to see the beautiful potential. But I will also embrace the day to day messiness of life!

So on behalf of your teenagers, let me say, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. You are doing an amazing job”!

Pour yourself another cup of coffee and go wake those teens!

You’ve got Mother’s Day to celebrate!!

 

 

 

 

Forget The “100 Things I Want My Kid To Know” Lists. Here Is The One Simple Thing Your Teenage Daughter Needs To Know!

Mom-Daughter-Walking-On-BeachYou’ve seen the 100 “things” lists. 100 life lessons, 100 things you want your kids to know before they turn 5, 100 ways to love your child…..

Maybe you didn’t quiet get to that whole list? Perhaps your teen is growing up so quickly, you need the shortened version, the cliff notes, and the cheat sheet? You are not alone! Stop reading the 100 things lists!!

Besides, what teenage girl is going to listen to 100 things you’ve got to say anyway??

Here is it, the single most important thing to teach your teenage daughter.

Say it like you mean it.

Show her how you know this to be true.

Let her know when she nailed it!

Let her know where she is struggling.

Say it as often as you can squeeze it in!

Your amazing strengths will help you handle whatever life brings if you take care of yourself along the way!

That’s it. Build her confidence. Build her self esteem, build her self-worth. Build her up. The world and the people in it will try to break her down, one little tiny bit at a time, or in big painful blows. When she was little you could repair the damages. You could make her feel better. You could talk it out and show her a solution. Now, your job is to make sure she carries her own first aid kit and can repair the damages as she goes along without you. Show her how to feel good about herself even as she makes mistakes, or fails or struggles to find her way in the world. Teach her not only how to repair the little hurts, but that it is so important to take the time and energy to make the repairs. Give her the confidence to know that it is OK to feel the hurt, learn from the hurt and then pick up the pieces and move on.

Seem like a big task? It is. Build these strategies into your everyday interactions with your daughter and the job won’t seem so impossible!

Talk about her strengths every chance you get. You are so…… I really admire how you do this….I love that you have this gift… You are so kind, sweet, strong willed, able to navigate difficult people, feel other people’s emotions so strongly, stand up for yourself, do your own thing, etc. You need to find the strength in everything she does. Maybe you hate 99% of an attitude or behavior. Deal with that, but be sure she knows you see the other 1%. That tiny part of her attitude that is her standing up for herself and seeing good in people or not caring what her peers think, find that 1% and help her grow and develop that part.

Teach her positive self talk.  There is lots of research about who talks more, men or women. You can probably answer that great debate yourself looking at your own relationships, but what the experts do all agree on is that 80% of all of the talking we do each day is self talk. As we go about our daily lives we are constantly thinking about and interpreting our situations. That means what we say in our own heads, out loud to ourselves, our attitudes, our conscious and unconscious beliefs and assumptions; add up to 80% of what we say to ourselves every day.  That means 80% of what she hears and knows can be in her own control! Teach your daughter to speak kindly. Show her how important it is for her to “say” positive things about herself. Her own attitudes, beliefs and assumptions can be the largest percentage of everything she hears in a day. With a number that big, she can survive and manage the negative words and attitudes she may hear from others. Show her how to change the inner voice with your own self talk. As crazy as this may feel, take your conversation out loud once in awhile. As you are drinking your coffee and she is hanging around, talk out loud. Today is a new day. You got this Mom. Today I will tell my coworker how I feel. Today I will eat one vegetable with my lunch, or whatever else you are stewing about in your own mind. Change the dreads, fears and negative ideas and beliefs and words into positive. You will be surprised how inspired you are too!

Show her how to take time for herself. Show her how to relax. Show her how to take downtime, how to do something she really enjoys. Instill in her that taking time for herself, by herself is as important as any other task she has in a day. For teens this absolutely means putting the phone down and taking a few minutes or even ~gasp~ an hour away from all social media! Read a book in front of her and say I’m taking a little me time. Invite her to watch a show together and no one interrupts or distracts from the show. Enjoy your own hobbies and let her see your accomplishments and pride. Help her find relaxing activities.

Eat, Sleep, And Exercise! The very foundation of good mental health comes down to committing to three very basic human needs. Eat, sleep and exercise. The benefits of keeping these three needs in healthy, working order has shown time and time again to lead to reduced feelings of depression, lessened anxiety and greater happiness.

  1. Teens need to eat regularly. She does not need to worry about gaining muscle or losing weight. Teens are growing and facing stressors every single day. They need adequate nutrition to keep up with their bodies needs. Just ask yourself if she is eating regularly? Is she eating relatively healthfully? Is she getting her metabolism up and running in the morning by eating and is she maintaining throughout the day? Is she drinking too much caffeine? Is she obsessed with energy drinks? Both will interfere with her body’s ability to regulate mood. Find a healthy eating pattern that works for your teen and help her commit to that pattern because she knows she feels better when she is on track!
  2. Sleep, sleep and more sleep! Teens need more sleep than they are getting. Nine to ten hours a night! Click here to read more about sleep and teens: http://joyhartman.com/put-cell-phone-better-sleep/. Teach your daughter the value of a good, quality sleep. Help her figure out what environment is most supportive for her sleep. A dark, quiet space, free of distractions is a great starting point. Get her cell phone out of her hands at bedtime. Have her leave the cell phone away from her sleep space so she is not tempted to be on her phone checking one last thing or responding to one last text. Lead by example and get yourself to sleep on time and without distractions. Sleep is an invaluable gift to give your daughter. Healthy sleep habits lead to greater happiness and satisfaction in life.
  3. Hmm. Couldn’t we all stand to do more of this? And who doesn’t feel better after a brisk walk or a peaceful run? Yet, it seems to be the first thing to go when life gets busy. Get your daughter involved in regular daily exercise. Hopefully it’s a sport or club she loves and this is the highlight of her day. If it is not, show her the value of walking the dog every day, or mastering yoga in the living room on Wii, or sign your whole family up for a festive 5K or take weekend hikes to new places. Find ways for everyone to be active. It will vastly improve the whole family’s happiness.

You have amazing strengths that help you handle the incredible responsibility of raising a teenage daughter! Continue to take care of yourself along the way! So skip cooking dinner and doing laundry tonight and read a book and go to bed early!

Now the job doesn’t seem so hard : ) You are just giving your daughter what she needs!

 

*check back next week for the single most important statement to say to your teenage son

Forget The “100 Things I Want My Kid To Know” Lists! Here Is The One Simple Thing Your Teenage Daughter Needs To Know!

Mom-Daughter-Walking-On-BeachYou’ve seen the 100 “things” lists. 100 life lessons, 100 things you want your kids to know before they turn 5, 100 ways to love your child…..

Maybe you didn’t quiet get to that whole list? Perhaps your teen is growing up so quickly, you need the shortened version, the cliff notes, and the cheat sheet? You are not alone! Stop reading the 100 things lists!!

Besides, what teenage girl is going to listen to 100 things you’ve got to say anyway??

Here is it, the single most important thing to teach your teenage daughter.

Say it like you mean it.

Show her how you know this to be true.

Let her know when she nailed it!

Let her know where she is struggling.

Say it as often as you can squeeze it in!

Your amazing strengths will help you handle whatever life brings if you take care of yourself along the way!

That’s it. Build her confidence. Build her self esteem, build her self-worth. Build her up. The world and the people in it will try to break her down, one little tiny bit at a time, or in big painful blows. When she was little you could repair the damages. You could make her feel better. You could talk it out and show her a solution. Now, your job is to make sure she carries her own first aid kit and can repair the damages as she goes along without you. Show her how to feel good about herself even as she makes mistakes, or fails or struggles to find her way in the world. Teach her not only how to repair the little hurts, but that it is so important to take the time and energy to make the repairs. Give her the confidence to know that it is OK to feel the hurt, learn from the hurt and then pick up the pieces and move on.

Seem like a big task? It is. Build these strategies into your everyday interactions with your daughter and the job won’t seem so impossible!

Talk about her strengths every chance you get. You are so…… I really admire how you do this….I love that you have this gift… You are so kind, sweet, strong willed, able to navigate difficult people, feel other people’s emotions so strongly, stand up for yourself, do your own thing, etc. You need to find the strength in everything she does. Maybe you hate 99% of an attitude or behavior. Deal with that, but be sure she knows you see the other 1%. That tiny part of her attitude that is her standing up for herself and seeing good in people or not caring what her peers think, find that 1% and help her grow and develop that part.

Teach her positive self talk.  There is lots of research about who talks more, men or women. You can probably answer that great debate yourself looking at your own relationships, but what the experts do all agree on is that 80% of all of the talking we do each day is self talk. As we go about our daily lives we are constantly thinking about and interpreting our situations. That means what we say in our own heads, out loud to ourselves, our attitudes, our conscious and unconscious beliefs and assumptions; add up to 80% of what we say to ourselves every day.  That means 80% of what she hears and knows can be in her own control! Teach your daughter to speak kindly. Show her how important it is for her to “say” positive things about herself. Her own attitudes, beliefs and assumptions can be the largest percentage of everything she hears in a day. With a number that big, she can survive and manage the negative words and attitudes she may hear from others. Show her how to change the inner voice with your own self talk. As crazy as this may feel, take your conversation out loud once in awhile. As you are drinking your coffee and she is hanging around, talk out loud. Today is a new day. You got this Mom. Today I will tell my coworker how I feel. Today I will eat one vegetable with my lunch, or whatever else you are stewing about in your own mind. Change the dreads, fears and negative ideas and beliefs and words into positive. You will be surprised how inspired you are too!

Show her how to take time for herself. Show her how to relax. Show her how to take downtime, how to do something she really enjoys. Instill in her that taking time for herself, by herself is as important as any other task she has in a day. For teens this absolutely means putting the phone down and taking a few minutes or even ~gasp~ an hour away from all social media! Read a book in front of her and say I’m taking a little me time. Invite her to watch a show together and no one interrupts or distracts from the show. Enjoy your own hobbies and let her see your accomplishments and pride. Help her find relaxing activities.

Eat, Sleep, And Exercise! The very foundation of good mental health comes down to committing to three very basic human needs. Eat, sleep and exercise. The benefits of keeping these three needs in healthy, working order has shown time and time again to lead to reduced feelings of depression, lessened anxiety and greater happiness.

  1. Teens need to eat regularly. She does not need to worry about gaining muscle or losing weight. Teens are growing and facing stressors every single day. They need adequate nutrition to keep up with their bodies needs. Just ask yourself if she is eating regularly? Is she eating relatively healthfully? Is she getting her metabolism up and running in the morning by eating and is she maintaining throughout the day? Is she drinking too much caffeine? Is she obsessed with energy drinks? Both will interfere with her body’s ability to regulate mood. Find a healthy eating pattern that works for your teen and help her commit to that pattern because she knows she feels better when she is on track!
  2. Sleep, sleep and more sleep! Teens need more sleep than they are getting. Nine to ten hours a night! Click here to read more about sleep and teens: http://joyhartman.com/put-cell-phone-better-sleep/. Teach your daughter the value of a good, quality sleep. Help her figure out what environment is most supportive for her sleep. A dark, quiet space, free of distractions is a great starting point. Get her cell phone out of her hands at bedtime. Have her leave the cell phone away from her sleep space so she is not tempted to be on her phone checking one last thing or responding to one last text. Lead by example and get yourself to sleep on time and without distractions. Sleep is an invaluable gift to give your daughter. Healthy sleep habits lead to greater happiness and satisfaction in life.
  3. Hmm. Couldn’t we all stand to do more of this? And who doesn’t feel better after a brisk walk or a peaceful run? Yet, it seems to be the first thing to go when life gets busy. Get your daughter involved in regular daily exercise. Hopefully it’s a sport or club she loves and this is the highlight of her day. If it is not, show her the value of walking the dog every day, or mastering yoga in the living room on Wii, or sign your whole family up for a festive 5K or take weekend hikes to new places. Find ways for everyone to be active. It will vastly improve the whole family’s happiness.

You have amazing strengths that help you handle the incredible responsibility of raising a teenage daughter! Continue to take care of yourself along the way! So skip cooking dinner and doing laundry tonight and read a book and go to bed early!

Now the job doesn’t seem so hard : ) You are just giving your daughter what she needs!

 

*check back next week for the single most important statement to say to your teenage son

 

 

 

 

Your Teen Is At Risk Of Being Sexually Abused Every Day In Your Own Home!

social-media

One in every 3 girls

One in every 5 boys

will be sexually abused before they turn 18!

Today’s teens are considered the very tail end of the Millennials. They are described by The Pew Research Center as more racially tolerant and diverse, more tech savvy and “connected” socially than previous generations. They are also more likely to say they are close to their parents, though they reject their parents’ and others’ religious and political views in record numbers.

They are also the first generation, ever, to grow up having social media as a constant, regular presence in their lives. This generation had social media available to them from late school age years through adolescence. What does that exposure do to the already staggering statistics about sexual abuse? How does cyber bullying, sexting, and on line perpetrators affect our teens? Experts agree that managing technology and social media has become the top challenge American teen’s face, along with drugs and alcohol.

Here’s why:

70 % of teen TV shows contain sexual content. And that doesn’t even consider that most teens are watching adult shows anyway!

U.S. children spend 7 hours and more a day with various types of often-sexually explicit media, including music, movies, television shows, magazines and the Internet.

To 57 % of American adolescents between the ages of 14 and 16, the media is their greatest source of sexual information

Children are being exposed to porn as young as age 8! Even if they are not looking up porn, seeking porn, they find inappropriate ads accidentally, without intent. They may type in a wrong word and be taken to sites that are disturbing images. They may innocently type in a word like, “boob” and get a far more graphic image than they are developmentally ready to handle.

60% of girls who had sex before the age of 15 were coerced by males averaging 6 years their senior. It is easier and easier for girls to meet older men. They talk on line. They get braver and bolder, because they are not interacting face to face. They are victims of grooming because they feel flattered and excited and grown up. They feel they are special. And once they are together in person, they have no experience or tools to say no. The relationship has advanced so far; they feel they were brave enough to say things, and they should now be brave enough to do things.

1 in 5 youth received a sexual approach or solicitation over the Internet in the past year.

Teens are exposed every day to sexual pressure, innuendos, and graphic images.

The hours of sexual content they see, hear and feel, the graphic images and videos seen accidentally or on purpose, and the casual sharing of nude or semi nude photos is abusive. These teens did not consent to and CAN NOT consent to this exposure. They act like they can handle it. They try to handle it. They work really hard to look cool, act cool and be cool about it. They are being coerced by media exposure to be cool with it. Developmentally they are not ready.

What can you do?

  1. Talk. Be willing to talk about ads on TV. Be open about a scene in a movie and share your values. Explain the ideas and thoughts you would want your teen to have before being in that situation. Help them understand how healthy vs. unhealthy relationships form. Talk candidly and openly. If you don’t, their friends will.
  2. Teach. Teach your child to expect their own safety. Teach them to speak up to their partner, you, or someone else if they are uncomfortable. Teach them that feeling uncomfortable is OK and it means stop what you are doing. They do not have to be bold and brave and push themselves to do things they have been told by media that they should be doing. They get to decide. Not social media.
  3. Empower. Empower your teen to speak up for themselves, and for others. Empower them to set standards for themselves and hold their friends to the same standard. They don’t have to act cool or pretend they think what a friend is doing is cool. That friend may be looking for someone to tell them to stop too! They have the power to change the message social media has been sending their whole lives!
  4. Implement. Implement safety in your home and on all devices your teen uses. Find ways to stop ads on your computer as soon as you bring your new baby home! It is as important as or more important than locking cabinets and putting in outlet covers. Do not let your small children, toddler children or taller than you children see images they are not ready to see. This has nothing to do with spying on your teen or not. It has nothing to do with trusting your teen or not. It has everything to do with limiting the expose to unwanted graphic images for yourself and the children in your home.
  5. Listen. Listen to your gut. If you think they are on the computer too often, taking a device to their bedroom, doing something you don’t like with social media access, trust your judgment. Slow them down. Be willing to listen to what they are trying to tell you. Perhaps they have an online boyfriend. Listen. Look for warning signs they may not see or recognize. Listen for the clues. Listen for their subtle pleas for help.

 

National Sexual Violence Resource Center http://www.nsvrc.org/

 

Shhhhh! Does Your Teen Have The Courage To Be Silent?

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We all need a little silence once in a while.

Teens are no exception. They live in a world of constant contact; texts, updates, snap chats, kiks, you tube, music, etc. They are often seen typing away on their device with ear buds streaming music, while watching TV and playing a mindless game. And to top it off they are generally doing all of these things at the exact same time they are supposedly doing their homework. Teens have taken multi tasking to a whole new level!

But do they ever have even one minute of silence? Do they ever stop taking in information? When do they rest their mind?

Teens are going through incredible growth during these years. Their brains are working on the fine details of managing thoughts, impulses and emotions. Loneliness, frustration, anger, emptiness, hurt, sorrow, need, emptiness, numbness are all hard emotions to process. These feelings are uncomfortable and not easy to face. Teens choose the multitasking and constant busyness because they are afraid to slow down and FEEL. They seek out the constant contact to bury their insecurity. Social media gives them a false confidence. They think they feel connected. But the most important connection, their own confidence in their ability to handle the tough stuff, is missing.  This is the time of development when our teens should not only be feeling these feelings, but finding coping skills, finding ways to manage, and finding ways to move forward productively and happily. If teens are constantly busy balancing music, homework, chatting, texting, keeping up with you tube videos, staying constantly informed, they have no time to fine tune the way they feel feelings. And even if the feelings sneak in, they do not give themselves the peace and quiet in their brains to find ways to cope. If our teens only coping skill for the tough emotions life is going to bring is to post on line, share with the world, retaliate with a snap chat, tweet about it, or worse, pretend it doesn’t matter and fill their time and energy with anything, everything else, rather than feel, they will be limited to relying on those skills only as they go through adulthood. We all need to feel the tough feelings. That is how we grow. That is how we learn. If we navigate tough feelings as a teen, we can navigate tough feelings as adults. Choosing quiet takes courage! Silence allows teens to really feel.  And that is OK. In fact, it’s absolutely necessary for their development!

Here are some very simple things you can do to encourage silence.

  1. Keep electronics out of their bedroom. The quiet moments they are drifting off to sleep are invaluable. No pressure to text, respond or even listen to music. Only silence and a moment to think. To feel.
  2. Turn off the radio sometimes when you are driving with your teen. Model that silence can be comfortable.
  3. Encourage them to walk away from their devices sometimes. If they are going to bake, just bake. A whole 20 minutes focusing on a recipe and the process is wonderful silence. Their social world can wait 20 minutes!
  4. Teach them to enjoy simple moments, like a shower, a bath, even a TV show without interruptions from their device or even music.
  5. Take them for a mother daughter massage J with the understanding no devices allowed!
  6. Read a book! Find a way to get them to curl up in a chair and read. In silence of course!
  7. Take a walk alone or with you. Talk or don’t talk. But no devices!

enjoy-the-silence

Mindfulness and Meditation are great ways to teach your teen to be silent. There are many great resources for teaching mindfulness to teens; here are some great links if you or your teen is interested in exploring more.

http://leftbrainbuddha.com/teaching-mindfulness-to-teens-5-ways-get-buy/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-courage-be-present/201001/how-practice-mindfulness-meditation

 

“Silence is a source of great strength.” – Lao Tzu

 

 

You Need To Know About This New App

A mobile couple

Kids these days know how to navigate the online world better, faster, quicker, and more discreetly than we can even imagine! I asked my teen to make a brochure for her little brother’s concert and within ten minutes, she had a four page, brochure with pictures and fonts and completely professional! It would have taken me half a day just to find the pictures and I never would have gotten the writing right side up on all four pages! These kids intuitively know more. They are well practiced and spend hours every day navigating on a computer. But what they don’t have is the maturity and brain development to understand the social and emotional implications of making a small error in judgment on line. They do not understand how their on line lives now, may impact them way down the road. As our kids speed through technology and social lives on line, we must continue to apply the brakes of reason and the structure to limit the mistakes as much as possible.

But for today, check out this article on a new app that our tweens and teens are using. https://www.yahoo.com/tech/meet-younow-the-live-casting-app-that-teens-love-115982018424.html There is no need for alarm, but a need for more conversations. Talk about this app with your teens. Ask them to show you how it works. Express interest and find out their thoughts.  Knowing about this app is one more reason to keep all devices out of your teen’s bedroom. Teaching your teens to value sleep, quiet time and avoiding temptation when they are alone and tired is one of the simplest gifts you can give.

Consider reading this article on why it is important to keep all devices out of their bedrooms.

http://joyhartman.com/put-cell-phone-better-sleep/

 

 

 

 

Take This Simple Quiz to Better Understand Your Teen!

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Does it seem like your teen is a stranger in your own home sometimes? Ever wonder what they are thinking ? Take this simple quiz to find out how to improve your communication with your teen.

 

Dr. Gary D. Chapman has developed a series of books based on the concept of 5 core Love Languages. The premise is that we each have a love language; or a way we receive and know love in one of five ways. This concept was originally applied to marriages specifically, but has been adapted  to understanding our relationships with teenagers. As parents we want our teens to feel loved. We hope that they know this everyday as they go out and face the pressures of the world. But do they know it? Why does it seems so hard for them to understand that our nagging, stalking, hovering, packing  lunches, reminding them to take a coat, etc is our way of letting them know we love them more than anything in the world?

Our teens have a love language and we as a parent have a love language. There is no right or wrong language.  You and your teen probably don’t speak the same love language. That is OK. There is no need to speak the same language as your  teen. But knowing your teen’s love language will help you better understand what your teen needs. Look at it as a way to give them what they need quickly and efficiently. It may not be the love language you understand best. It may not be the love language that you are most comfortable with. It may not be the language that worked for an older sibling or yourself as a teen. What you wanted is not necessarily what your teen wants. If you only have five minutes with your teen this is a cheat sheet or the cliff notes into how your teen receives love each day. Understanding your teen’s love language can greatly improve your communication. As a parent  this simple test may help you better understand how to fill your teens tank so that they have the confidence and security to go out into the world.

Ask your teen to answer these questions and tally their choices.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/moody-profiles/uploads/profile/attachment/2/1125_5LoveLanguagesTeens_Quiz_revised.pdf

If they scored more “A”s  -their Love Language is Words of Affirmation. Use kind, encouraging words with your teen. Let them know through your words that you are proud of them. Tell them you like the decisions they make. Be appreciative of what they say, do and offer. Sometimes this language gets lost in the sarcasm, eye rolling and general surly attitude teens can so often develop. Try to see through the snootiness and find things to affirm. They will know you love them when you offer words of affirmation.

If they scored more “B”s -their love language is Quality Time. For some teens, regardless of what you’re doing together, nothing is more important than you giving focused attention. This can be simply taking a walk, sitting together, turning off your phone or email and being present with your teen. This love language is sometimes a challenge in our fast paced world. We as parents are often doing many things at one time. If your teen has scored highest in this category, it will be important to carve out quality time together. They will feel loved when they have your undivided attention.

If they scored more “C”s -their love language is Gifts. If your teen has scored the highest in this category they love the idea of being surprised. They love the idea that you think of them when they are away and go out of your way to give them small or large gifts, tokens of your love. They will remember the gifts you have given them and know that those gifts are a sign of your love.

If they scored more “D”s -their  love language is Acts of Service. These teens know love through the things you do for them. They feel loved because you cook, clean, or do things that are helpful to your teen. Often times parents give this love language, out of habit since doing these things has been the routine for so many years, but also because it is what they themselves crave from everyone in the house. But if your teen has scored high in this love language, think about ways you can do acts of service willingly and lovingly. What do you want to give to your teen so that they feel loved vs. what are you doing out of habit or obligation.

If they scored more “E”s-their love language is Physical Touch. When our teens were babies and toddlers, physical touch was a part of everyday life. Even as school aged kids touch comes more readily and easily. Sometimes as our kids grow into teens we start to feel uncomfortable with physical touch. As their bodies change we tend to pull away or give them space. If our teenage boys tower over us by a foot, physical touch is not an easy feat. We can no longer carry them or pull them into a reluctant hug, but we can sit near them, offer hugs,  rub their backs as we walk by, put a hand on their shoulder as they are sitting at the table. Find ways to add physical touch in creative ways if your child has scored high in this love language.

Now that you know their love language, talk with your teen abut it. Ask them what they think about this. Teach them them the names of the five love languages. It gives you both some common language to use if communication breaks down in the future. Who knows, they may even make your job easier and ask for what they need!

“Hey mom, can we run to Starbucks, just you and me?”

“Yo, can you scratch my back?”

“You haven’t baked those cinnamon rolls in a long time.”

What is your Teen’s Love Language?

 

If you want to read more about your teen’s love language, find Dr. Chapman’s complete book here:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Love-Languages-Teenagers-Edition/dp/080247313X

“Enjoy Every Minute Because You’ll Miss This Someday” Teens Too?!?

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When I was pregnant with my first baby everyone told me it would go so fast and I would miss being pregnant one day. I didn’t believe them. I was uncomfortable and sick and done. But now, sixteen years later, I think it’s sweet to see a pregnant mom and have a tiny bit of nostalgia for that whole ugly, beautiful mess. ancsa 005

When I had a newborn baby, I wasn’t sure I’d ever sleep through the night again. Ever. I thought perhaps I had ruined my life and I would never be the same again. This too passed; but only because I had amazing friends and family that supported me through the whole thing. I learned how to teach my baby to sleep. I had people who cared enough to hear the minute details of how many ounces she ate and how long she slept. I needed to share it with someone.

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The toddler days were some of the longest days of my life! My toddlers were moody, impulsive and maddening! I was trapped in the house and felt alone even though I was surrounded by three little human beings who could talk non stop from the moment they woke up and even through the night in their sleep!  At the time I worked hard to find a way to fill each day. I found things to hold off my own boredom and theirs! Now I miss the simplicity of those very loooong days. The very thing that I survived, being together always and being responsible for their well being every second of every single day, is what I miss the most right now as a mom of teens. I miss being with them every single second. I miss them when they are out and about. I miss getting to be the person who is responsible for their well being. When they were with me every second, I could keep them safe. Now as teens, I have to trust them, and their friends, and the world. I miss the security and togetherness of toddler times.

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The school days….ah. The car pooling, the birthday parties, the volunteering in the classroom. All good things, but one needs a degree in event planning just to make it through a single day. Two dozen pink cupcakes needed for kid one on Friday by 9 am, money for the book fair and salt dough map of Wisconsin for kid 2 due in the morning and be at the bus to chaperone a field trip by 8:40 for kid number three. Then the real fun begins after school! Sports, lessons, play dates, study groups, scouts, etc. I needed to call in Grandma on occasion to get every kid where they needed to go. And we committed to living simply through the school age years! We chose purposefully to let our kids be kids and worked hard not to over schedule. But it still happened. There were days that required a planner to get it all done. But I was involved. I got to be a part of all the things in their life. I got to know their teachers, I knew their friends, I knew their schedule and that they were eating pink cupcakes that day! As a mom of teens, I miss being a part of their crazy schedules. Now they drive themselves or arrange a ride. Now they don’t need chaperones. And worst of all, they bake pink cupcakes all by themselves! I miss being needed. (I do not miss packing lunches though!)

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And now, parents who have survived teens will say they miss all this too. They say their houses stay clean all the time and miss the mess?!? I don’t believe them. They say they miss the noise that only a house full of teens can produce. They miss opening the freezer to find a hungry pack of boys must have moved through and devoured a month’s worth of pizza rolls! They miss watching the games and activities. They miss hearing about the everyday drama that right now seems so endless. They miss the late night projects it seems like we are always trying to pull together at the last minute. They miss their kid’s friends. The ones that right now seem like horrible influences and super annoying are the very friends they miss having lurking around their kitchens.

I wasn’t sure I’d survive pregnancy when I was ten days late and the only thing I could do to pass the time was test drive the dreaded mini vans. But they said, “Enjoy every minute because you’ll miss this someday”

I wasn’t sure I’d survive babies. I LOVE my sleep and I missed it terribly. But they said, “Enjoy every minute because you’ll miss this someday”

I wasn’t sure I would survive the routine, consistency and boredom of the toddler years. But they said, “Enjoy every minute because you’ll miss this someday”

I wasn’t sure I could do enough during the school age years. I wasn’t sure I could continue to drive, bake, and volunteer one more day. But they said, “Enjoy every minute because you’ll miss this someday”

So now  I have to trust those moms who have gone before me. I miss pregnancy a tiny bit. Only a tiny bit mind you! I miss babies. A lot. I will hold babies any chance I can get. I will promise to give them back because I know they will turn into toddlers, school agers and teens : )  I miss the school age years. I miss the pink cupcakes, the cool field trips, and the camaraderie or our school community. So I have to assume I will miss the teen years too. I am going to take the parts of parenting teens, that are scary and hard and overwhelming and irritating and find a way to enjoy at least one part of that moment. I am going to enjoy the drama report today after school. I am going to enjoy my kids’ friends, I am going to happily stock the freezer…again. I will do this every day so that when I drop them off at college or come and visit them in their first apartment, I can not only say, I survived the teen years but that I enjoyed the simple moments along the way.

 

Chores! Are They A Battle Worth Fighting?

 

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He works works really hard at school! She has a job outside of the house. He doesn’t have any time after homework and sports! Those all may be true but there are so many reasons to make chores as big a priority as any of the other things your teen does!

Why is it so important that teens do chores? Isn’t it easier just to get it done yourself? Isn’t it faster and less traumatic for everyone in the house just to hire a cleaning service? Yep. Definitely. But then you are missing out on so many important lessons your teen needs to know before they are out on their own. You are still parenting. They may act like they know everything and are wise to the ways of the world, but you know better. You know how hard it is to be a responsible adult. You know how difficult managing money will be at times in their lives. You know how much effort and energy every single day requires to take care of a family. They need to start to understand those brutal truths so they can make good decisions about their adult life.

Chores teach them responsibility. They teach them that they have an important job and it is up to them to get it done. It teaches them to manage their time and to follow through. Chores can teach them to feel good about a job well done, or a job consistently done. Doing chores can prepare them for the real world, show them what it means to be a part of a family and can even teach budgeting and financial skills. But more importantly than any of these great things, chores can be the most logical route to a developmental milestone.chore2

Famous developmental theorist, Erik Erikson, believed that personality develops throughout a person’s life span. According to Erikson, development occurs in eight stages. The fifth stage, identity vs. role confusion, takes place during adolescence. The most important goal during this stage is for a teen to develop an independent identity. From career aspirations to personal values, the teen must figure out what works for him or her. The teen must develop a strong sense of self. They must know who they are and what they stand for. The key term in this stage that teens must master is Fidelity. According to the on line dictionary, fidelity is faithfulness to obligations, duties, or observances, strict observance of promises, duties, loyalty.  What better way to be sure your teen is working on achieving fidelity and accomplishing the most important task of their teen years, developing an identity, than to give them chores and an opportunity to master the tasks?!?

Under Erickson’s theory, each stage must be completed in order to move on to mastering the next stage of development. And the next stage for your teen will be, Intimacy vs. Isolation! This will certainly set a tone for your teen for their entire future.  Will they be able to maintain a relationship with a partner or constantly struggle to find companionship? Isn’t that our greatest wish; that our teens will grow up to be productive human beings who have the capacity to work and love? If so, we must teach them and guide them to an ability to work. To complete difficult, hard, boring, or annoying tasks.

Are you inspired yet to bust out the old chore chart? Are you motivated to ask your teen for the billionth time to do the dishes? Are you afraid it will only last a week just like all the other attempts? There is no good answer. There is no prefect chore chart on line that will be magical. But there are a few guidelines to follow. You may have to come back to these every few weeks when you try something new again. You may have to rewrite them a dozen times before you find the right combination for your particular teen. Maybe what works for one of your teens won’t work for the other one. Keep trying. Keep giving them the opportunity to grow and master this important stage.

  1. Independent. The chore should be able to be achieved completely their own. It shouldn’t be dependent on when you need it done or needs to be done after a sibling does their part. Dishes are hard because the teen has less say so in when they get it done. You should not have to ask them to complete their tasks. If the dishwasher needs to be unloaded before their sister can set the table or you can cook, it can quickly become a nag and a drag. But on the other hand a bathroom getting cleaned can be done before they go to school or at 1 AM just because they finally feel like it and has very little time sensitivity.
  2. Personal Style. The chore should be something they can accomplish in their own way. Tidying, dusting then vacuuming may be the order you like to complete a task. But if your teen prefers to pile the entire couch with clutter, vacuum while texting and then dusts as he puts stuff back will have to be tolerated by you. Can you give them space to do it their own way or will it drive you crazy? Either way is OK; just don’t assign it if you can’t handle it J . They will learn to be more efficient, it will just take time. Think about a different chore if one is too hard for you to watch.
  3. Beyond Basic. There are certain things teen should do just because they live in your home. They can take off their shoes, put their dishes in the dishwasher, keep their room reasonable, do their own, or at least put away their own clothes, etc. But a chore should be above and beyond in some way. Cleaning the family bathroom, mowing a lawn, maintaining a room, mopping the kitchen floor, dusting the hard to reach place you hate to do, etc.
  4. Reward. They wont work for free and they won’t work if they don’t need the money. Make sure your teen needs the money! Find out what minimum wage is in your state. That is the going rate unless they have some skill or expertise! Which they don’t! Use this as a constant opportunity to teach about doing a good job, getting raises and most importantly, getting trained, educated or skilled for a career in life. Minimum wage is all they will earn if they do not complete high school. Talk to them about taxes and real dollar amounts on a paycheck. And then make sure they understand minimum wage is per hour. You will probably not be assigning more than an hour of chores a week realistically. If every member of your family does one hour of extra chores, you should have a pretty clean house! So maybe they earn $8/hour? Don’t over pay! When you give them $20 for doing very little or mowing the lawn which takes about an hour from start to finish is only setting them up to disappointed in their pay for ever. They will always feel they do not earn enough or they are not valued. Their work/career life will be 50-60 years. Don’t set them up to expect to be overpaid.
  5. Flexible. If they don’t like their chores, ask them to come up with a better plan. If you don’t like the chores they are doing, start over. It’s not so much about your bathroom getting cleaned as it is about your teen learning to find his style, to finish a task; to feel good about himself and to follow through on his responsibility. That responsibility may take some fine tuning. Challenge them. Don’t dumb the chores down. Don’t follow behind them and do it again. They must actually do their chores. They must actually be valued in their home. They need to know they can do it consistently and well! And hey, parenting is stinking hard! You should at least get your kitchen floor mopped for all you have done over the years!!

Many parents find that setting a deadline for chores to be done eliminates nagging and the battle of wills we all dread! If the chores are not done by 5 PM every Sunday, they do not get paid. Some parents are OK with leaving it at  they don’t get paid and offer the chores again in a week. Others say if the chores are not done by 5 PM, you don’t get paid and you don’t have access to your cell phone until they are done. Your level of enforcement is entirely up to you. Just be sure when your teen asks for $10 for coffee or a movie or gas, they know exactly where they can get the cash!

There are many, many chore charts on line. Here is a favorite. This is set up as if your teen owns their own cleaning business. They print off this invoice, check off whatever jobs you have previously filled in, and submit to you for approval and payment. This can be created in Excel or feel free to request a blank format sent via email.

Olivia’s Cleaning Company
Cleaning completed the week of    
Kitchen and back entryway
Clorox wipe all counter edges including tops        0.25
Chairs: Clorox wipe all chairs and bench        0.25
Dust all baseboards        0.50
Sink: Scrub sink with cleanser and rinse well        0.25
Dust all wall hangings        0.25
Windex front door windows and back door windows        1.00
Floor: Sweep and Mop entire kitchen floor especially ALL edges        2.00
Potential / Realized Earnings        4.50
Bathroom
Cabinet: Pull out all items and wipe surface with cleaner        0.25
Counter: Clorox wipe and scrub sink        0.25
Organize and manage the closet        0.25
Clorox wipe the door handle & light switch, dust doors &wall hangings        0.25
Floor: sweep and wet mop        1.00
Clorox the baseboards and the top of the shower        0.25
Mirror: Windex        0.25
Toilet: Clorox entire toilet, including the outer area and base        1.00
Towels: Replace three towels, two hand towels and floor rug        0.25
Tub / Shower: Comet and scrub all surfaces        0.75
Potential / Realized Earnings        4.50
Bedroom and Miscellaneous
 Dust     0.50
 Vacuum     0.50
 Clean clothes put away
       –
 Dirty clothes in a basket        –
 No $$ will be paid if clothes are not managed!!!!!!!
Signature and Date Paid:    

 

Happy chores!