Love conquers, transitions, love embraces change, love is challenged, love travels a journey through a variety of different circumstances, love forces us to grow.
Through prayer and meditation we are given the graces to love in all circumstances.
Our Lady embraces mothers who turn to her, pleading,
“Mother Mary, teach me what to do, teach me what to say, I want to mother as you mothered, show me the way.”
When our kids little we loved them, spent time with them baking cookies and doing all sorts of wonderful things.
Here are seven tips to mothering a teen and young adult.
1. Accept the fact that they do not need you as much, and that’s OK.
There is a bond that develops between a mother and her child, everyone knows that. When our children start asserting their independence, it can be disorienting, sometimes even painful. One day it will happen, your child will not want to go to the movies, (or camping, or to Niagara Falls, or other day trips) with you as much. They will choose their friends over you. But that’s OK.
Being a loving mom sometimes means letting go and praying, giving them to Christ.
2. Learn about Social Media. Do not be an outsider to their online world.
The online world is such a huge part of our culture. In many cases, kids are spending more time online than with their families and or real time friends. It really is a different world. Like it or not, they are socializing with strangers on line. The numbers of people our kids meet and interact with has grown exponentially.
It can be dehumanizing.
Humans – instead of being human beings (with families, loves, hurts, interests, aspirations and a spirit) – have become a profile, an avatar. A profile that can be ‘liked’, deleted, ignored – our teens lives often revolve around a click, a LIKE, a Snapchat, a photo on Instagram, a Tweet , a text, or a match on Tinder. As parents, our love for them invites us to engage (not criticize, condemn, or attack) with our kids in their world. We do need to learn about it – stay relevant and understand how each of these forms of social media work. In learning and embracing social media, parents can love, coach, pray and engage in conversation on a meaningful level. Teens and young adults are making all sorts of mistakes online, mistakes that can have serious consequences. If you become a part of their online world, it can be both shocking and reassuring. Trust me, there will be much to pray through and navigate..
Being a loving mom, means learning about social media and being engaged.
3. Suffer with them, offering tenderness, reassurance, compassion, wisdom & help
Watching your kids suffer has always been difficult. Do you remember the times when your child got a bad ear ache or fever, and it felt as tho you, yourself had it? You suffered their physical pain along side them. Do you remember the phone call that informed you that your child had broken their arm, or fell in the school yard and needed stitches? Do you remember the shock to your system, the sense of urgency – that caused you to drop everything and run to help them? Well, as they get older, your role doesn’t change, but the circumstances do. You might get a phone call from a downtown club, with your kid overwhelmed – because all of their friends have gotten drunk. Or, you may have to nurse your child’s heart after a high school sweet heart split. up. Getting cut from teams, fired from jobs (because of no good reason) – attacked or laughed at for their convictions, all or simply being excluded or ignored – all of these things are heart wrenching for both you and your child.
Being a loving mom, means suffering with your child, and mothering them with tenderness, reassurance, compassion, offering help and the wisdom of ‘good talks’ – (not nag attacks).
4. Yes, YOUR kids may do unexpected, crazy things that you disagree with. Be careful not to over react.
Many moms in religious circles have a false sense of pride and control. They erroneously believe because of their parenting style, their children will know better, their children will do no wrong. Well, I pray that these convictions are true – but I do have to tell you, I know of dozens of parents who did everything by the book, some even home-schooled, went on pilgrimages and even took their kids to daily mass, others banished television, junk food and Disney from their homes, others were very rich parents who offered their kids literally everything – and guess what?
When their children were transitioning from from teens to young adults, some of their kids may have done some very crazy things including(but not limited to): meeting a ‘crush’ interest on the internet, sexting, tattooing, piercing, coming out of the closet and declaring themselves gay, going on drinking binges, climbing out on to the roof in the middle of the night, becoming friends with questionable characters, watching the entire Harry Potter series in a marathon watch, specifically because they were denied it – oh and the list goes on.
Being a loving mother means keeping close to the sacrament of reconciliation. Parenting during this time will test her, bringing out ugly sides of her character – that do need to be mortified – specifically so that the child’s questionable behaviour can be addressed with love, help, understanding, wisdom and not rage.
5. Understand that your recourse to prayer, and supernatural spiritual tools is a must at this time in their lives.
It is very difficult to accept the fact that sometimes it appears you have absolutely no control over what your kids are doing, who they are hanging with, whether or not they are choosing to go to mass or participate in the sacraments once they have left home. But that is not an excuse to stop parenting. Being a loving mother means mothering, evangelizing, teaching Catholic Church and living it – praying until her very last breath. Mothers, do not think your role is over just because they no longer live in your house and have their own families. Remember to use all of the spiritual tools available to you! Holy Water, masses being said for their intentions, good Catholic books and prayer cards shared, pilgrimages and sufferings offered up for their souls, rosaries offered, visits to the Blessed Sacrament.
Being a loving mom means never giving up the good fight for the salvation of your child’s soul.
6. Remember to have fun as a family in the middle of it all.
When our kids are little, we plan so many fun excursions; trips to the zoo, the splash pad, visits to the museum, amusement parks, a day at the beach, an evening at the arcade, backyard rinks, baseball games, pizza nights and fun bubble baths! All those fun things help us deal with the difficult sleepless nights, the colicky child, the mindless mind numbing chores. As a child transitions from the teen years, to young adult years, it can be difficult without some good old fashioned fun. The fun needs to transition to a different kind of fun, but fun replenishes the spirit.. Both high school and university students are under so much pressure in this day and age; academic demands, part time jobs, sports commitments and the crazy secularized, sexualized culture and social media constantly demand that they question everything you taught them. If our relationships with our kids are constantly a battle – a battle with no joy or fun as a reprieve, relationships can become strained to the point of breaking, joy and fun are a lubricant.
Being a loving mom means praying for the gift of joy and planning a new style of a fun family get together.
7. Be grateful for the messy rooms, hockey sticks in the hallway and the bras on the floor.
It’s easy to get entangled in all of the challenges of parenting these up and coming adults. It is hard to remember that their brains are not fully developed until they are at least 24 years old. No, they are not adults at 18. Do the research, listen to the talks, their brains are not developed until they are 24. That doesn’t mean we treat them as infants and foster their dependence, but it does mean they do need a coach, some common sense and love when it all goes wrong. It really is tempting to expect our children to act and behave with the wisdom of an older soul.
Being a loving mom means being grateful for it all, the messy rooms, the hockey sticks in the hallway and yes, the bras found in random places. A loving mom reflects on the fact that time passes ever so quickly, and she knows that soon they will be out on their own.