“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” Psalms 127:3 NASB
I believe this to the depths of my being – most days. If I am completely honest, it is often hard to “behold” this truth now that she is firmly ensconced in teenage angst. The most difficult times? When I “beholding” an empty wallet, when I “beholding” all of her prized possessions I have found scattered around our house, when I “beholding” my temper while attempting to shop with her (I wrote about that here), or when I “beholding” my tongue while she sasses me or insists for the 187th time that she knows better than me.
Ugh. If I could choose to only ever communicate 2 things to my 13 year old, I would let her know that #1 – she is wonderfully made by a Savior who adores her wants to be with her forever, and #2 – that her dad and I love her madly and are ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS in her corner. What often comes out instead is some horribly timed and messy variation of, “why can’t you do better!?!” I could crawl up in the fetal position to think of the ways my flesh gets the better of me and my words wound instead of heal. But balling up with a gallon of Blue Bell (Come on now. If I’m in the fetal position, there is ice cream involved.) won’t turn back time – as much as Cher might sing about it. Hopefully I didn’t just give you the ear worm I now have.
The truth is, my kid is kinda over me. She loves me because I’m her mom and I’m thankful I still get hugs and kisses, but she currently takes most of her cues from people other than me. Willingly, at least. She listens more to friends, youth ministers and other influencers than to her family. I often imagine that she hears Charlie Brown’s teacher when I discuss something with her. But even if she’s not as inclined to listen, I’m not done guiding her. And I’m specifically not done filling her with the 2 important messages I listed above. So I’m trying to get more creative in attempts to connect with her.
Here’s what I know. Grand gestures embarrass her now. I could spend a lot of money on taking her some place cool or buying her things. She *might* have an appreciative reaction, or I *might* end up feeling unappreciated and dejected. So I’m opting right now for small, repetitive tokens of my affection. Here are the two things that seem to be working for me right now.
- When I was in college, I decided it would be cool to have one more piercing in one ear than the other. Asymmetrical ear holes was the extent of my “edge” back then (and maybe now). So when I jewelry (can I use that as a verb?), I wear a pair of earrings and then one lone stud or small hoop. My daughter’s middle name is Rose. I have this Rose stud that reminds me of her every time I wear it.
In a Carol Burnett-esque move, I now tell her when I’m wearing it and will randomly touch it when I catch her eye – like during choir performances and volleyball games and random Wednesdays. She knows it means, “I’m behind you. I’m here for you.”
2. The second idea I stole from a fellow volleyball mom. If you have ever been involved in club ball, tournament weekends are a marathon of watching and sitting and cheering. Sometimes hours pass without time for meaningful conversation with my girl, so encouraging dialogue poses a challenge. I often can’t remember what I walked into a room for, much less all the plays she made in the first game by the end of the day. I’ve started doing this:
I open my text thread to her at the beginning of the game and keep a running commentary of every time she touches the ball or encourages a team mate. As you can see, the feedback is not always glowing, but it’s mostly positive and lets her know that I see her. And I’m proud of her no matter what. She knows how closely I paid attention and she likes it!
Now have these gestures made our household a haven of sparkle unicorn bliss? No. She still has hormones and I still have a sinful nature. But
when I have poured into her and she has felt and seen my love in tangible ways, we often have an extra patience pill for each other
What creative ways do you connect with your teen? I would love more ideas. Comment on this post and be a part of the conversation!