All three of my girls are now over twelve years old.
I feel poignant about this. I should feel happy to get over that hump, I guess.
My girls are getting much more independent, doing their own things. I encourage them to own themselves, speaking up, and managing their own appointments, activities, time.
Watching them walk away with my heart is the hardest thing I’ve ever faced. Keeping a smile on my face so they don’t see my anxiety is about to kill me.
My daughters are 19, 14, and 13.
My son is just now ten, but it seems different.
Having teen girls isn’t all the bad that society and the media portray it to be.
Parenting teens doesn’t have to break us.
I really love seeing my girls grow and mature. It’s fascinating to see their minds change as their bodies also develop. Two of my daughters are bigger than I am and they almost cradle me now as I once cradled their small childish forms. But they can also hip check me in a moment so I love how gracious and sweet they are.
I remember how awkward I was at age thirteen, lanky and uncomfortable in my skin, unsure of my thoughts, struggling to fit in with kids at school, wondering who I should be and what values I should have.
I love how much more capable and confident my daughters are than I was at their age.
When my kids were very little, they were highly active and energetic. My girls went through the typical awkward stage when the were like young colts learning how to canter gracefully. Gymnastics and sports help with getting through these awkward times. They’re pretty aware of their bodies and the space they take up and I encourage my girls to expand themselves instead of shrinking as our society and the church culture seem to require. I want them to regain their confidence they seemed to have misplaced the last few years.
I read a lot of child development, cognitive psychology, and education material. I’m not an expert, but I am fascinated in learning about these topics and how I can best teach and parent my four kids.
I often use the analogy with my family that adolescent brains change from a child caterpillar brain to confused mush like a chrysalis, then to the more mature butterfly young adult brain by the time they’re 25.
Changes I’m Noticing in my Teens
It’s great that I can hold my girls’ attention for longer than ten minutes. I can give multi-step instructions and usually expect them to be followed and completed. Their memories are getting better. I see them focus on activities for longer periods of time, often completing projects before getting distracted or moving on to something else. I love they have the ability to train their minds by staying at home. We work, work, work, on brain health and executive function so they can do their best.
We’re in our last 4-year cycle of history in our homeschool, beginning the rhetoric phase. Witnessing the connections and abstract thinking in my girls just brings me the greatest joy as a mother and teacher. They can think critically younger and better than I could when I was in college! I love their hard questions that we research and work through together.
Awareness of current events
I enjoy having the hard conversations with my kids and hearing what they think of what’s happening in our city, state, country, and the world. I have to be careful not to overwhelm my younger kids with the horrors of our world and continue to focus on hope and love and reconciliation. They’re starting to ask what they can do to help make our world a better place. We recycle, compost, reduce, reuse. We try with our baby steps to ease our consciences any way we can. Every little bit counts.
Expansion of strengths
After years of exposing and strewing and providing so many opportunities and experiences for my kids, they’re starting to narrow down what they’re interested in, focusing more on what they love, looking at ways to turn their passions into careers. I love seeing them grow and teach themselves. We start out generalizing their education and seeing them begin to specialize is so fun.
Ability to take criticism
My kids are so much healthier than I ever was (and still am) about constructive criticism. I try to scaffold and prime my kids when I think a situation or experience might be difficult or stressful or just very new. I want them to be aware of what to expect. I can’t always predict what might happen or what people might say or do. I can’t always be there to protect my kids. They’re growing more and more independent. Other adults and kids often aren’t as kind with their words or actions. We discuss the situation afterwards.
I love seeing the potential in my kids. I’m getting glimpses of the adults they will soon be. They use nonviolent language (mostly) and solve problems (usually well and without my input) together. We seldom have negative or immature conflicts in our household. They have more emotional intelligence than I ever did. I’m learning so much from my kids about how to be healthy in all relationships.
Around age 12, kids undergo a big change, a crisis, in their development. They are reaching puberty and hormones make physical and mental changes in their bodies. It’s a difficult age and many kids struggle to make this change and reach the other side unscathed. Two of my girls suffer depression and anxiety. I know I sure had trouble for several years from 12-15. There seems little I can do to help my girls overcome or avoid the inner struggle. Perhaps it’s genetic or just their personalities.
Of course, tweens and teens are weebly wobbly and sometimes it seems like one step forward and three steps back.
I love being with my kids all day, every day and learning academics with them and assisting them to explore their interests. I am privileged and blessed to travel this life with my children.
During the first seven years, children work mainly out of imitation, while from ages 7-14, children work out of authority. This is why attachment is so important to develop a trusting relationship with kids.
This is also why many families experience difficulties with teens not listening. They didn’t feel attached or safe or listened to as young children, so they won’t just magically begin when they’re older. They develop their own thoughts, values, opinions, preferences. Many parents feel threatened and triggered by kids who express themselves, question authority, and other natural developmental growth.
I’m seeing my girls begin to try on new personalities and personas like actresses. They’re trying to discover who they are and who they’d like to be, what they’d like to look like. They change their hair and clothes very frequently. I try to keep up. I try to be patient and welcoming. Sometimes, it’s frustrating and since I’m pretty constant and decrepit in my boring 40s, there are bound to be clashes when I don’t realize they’ve already moved on to something new.
The Waldorf curriculum is so incredible because it is so responsive to student development. I believe all children should have access to an education that respects their development and inspires their soul. I wish I had discovered it many years ago when we began homeschooling. I try to incorporate aspects of it in our learning rhythms.
Looking back at my children when they were babies, toddlers, preschoolers, learning to read and ride bikes, it’s easy to see the milestones they reached and achieved.
My girls look like women now and I have to look twice sometimes and my heart hitches as I remember their goofiness when they were small.
Now, my teens are looking more to the future and completing high school, making friends, planning for jobs and college and careers.
I love watching them learn how to fly.
Thirteen year olds are often withdrawn physically and emotionally, can be standoffish, tends to be critical – they are protecting their budding separate thoughts and personality!The Parenting Passageway
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This is great! I think teens in general get a much worse rap than they deserve. I appreciate what you’ve shared here about the changes you’ve noticed. I’m visiting today from the Inspire Me Monday link up. Have a great week!
charmaine macdonald says
My son will be turning 13 soon but I have no daughters. Thanks for sharing your insights and wishing you all many blessings. It is not easy growing up in these troubling times.
Ellen Lockhart says
My kids are grown now and some of my grandchildren too. I loved it when my kids were teens. We always had a close relationship and now it’s the same with my grandkids that are teens and now in their twenties. It is actually fun as they grow older and nice that you can have adult conversations.
Leslie Newman says
I love this post! It’s so true! The teen years can be so deep and rich. I still remember conversations I had with my daughter and son that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Watching them mature was fulfilling. Letting them go as they became more independent was emotional! These points you make are a great focus to take for the teen years!
What great insights into teen years! My son is several years away from being two digits but I am always happy to read about what it’s like. Thank you for sharing and will keep in mind!
Maureen | http://www.littlemisscasual.com
My youngest just became a teenager last month so I have all three teens now and I am loving this stage! I think my boys are fun and confident and yet they are still not afraid to let me know when they need my help. Thanks for sharing with us at Encouraging hearts and home. Pinned.
Jennifer Dynys says
Great post! I love having teens, and you are right, it is not the time of misery that people warned me about! It’s fun to see them grow and mature, finally seeing all the years of investment bearing fruit! Thank you for sharing at Embracing Home and Family!