I reflected through the young years of my kids and how I trained them up from the time that they were little. From eleven months, I have started training them with solid discipline. I wasn’t beating and spanking my children. I was training them how to be disciplined children. I was recounting all of those details. I reflected on the terrible threes. It was the year of the “Why this?” “Why that?” “Why this boundary?” I just remember Spencer saying one time “Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?” She just questioned every boundary. She pushed every boundary. She threw a fit at every corner. She was trying to figure out her independence. “I’m ready for a new level of freedom from you. I don’t necessarily have the maturity to obtain it, but I need to see where it goes. It needs to increase. I am ready for an increase. I need to push every single door in to try to find what the limit is.” I had to realize, that this kid needs an increase in independence. How do I give it to her without giving her too much that she would hurt herself?
As I recounted this, the Lord was like, “Hey, guess what. Your teens are like a redo of the terrible threes.” It was a light bulb moment. Ding! The teens are the recap of the terrible threes. My teens need more independence from me. They have come to the age where they could probably live on their own, but they probably don’t have the maturity. They are tired, exhausted, and hormonal. They don’t know how to deal with all of those things. They want new limits. They are trying to figure out what they are. “Mom, you have to let go of me a little bit more. You have to give me a little bit more space.” They start fighting for it. It doesn’t matter how much you have given them to date. They need more at that point. You can keep it reeled in, they will just need more. If you give them too much too early, they will need more—probably more than you are willing to give them. They will need more space, more freedom, less limits. They are fighting for that, trying to figure it out, saying, “I want to be making my own decisions.” They don’t even understand the struggle, but we can.
It began to change how I responded to my kids. What do you do with the terrible three? Redirect. When they’re frustrated and moody, instead of saying, “Don’t act that way,” “Don’t talk to me,” “Don’t speak to me in that tone,” just pause and redirect. Don’t take it personally. You don’t have to make everything better.
Are you the savior of your children? Are you trying to make it all better? Do you ever make your children wait on a response? They need to be able to sit and wait a few days. They do not need immediate gratification. Otherwise you will be raising an entitled, immediate-gratification seeking adult who is going to be a brat. Evaluate your own parenting. Ask yourself if you are doing these things.
Put your hand up. Tell your kids to wait. Tell them to shut up and stop interrupting. Don’t let them interrupt adult conversation for what they think is an emergency. It’s not. Your children can wait—unless there is blood or a broken bone. They need to learn to wait. A lot of times, more than a day. We need to teach them patience by not giving them what they desire and need or want right away. We do that when they are infants because they don’t have a choice. But that is not how they are when they are older. It should slowly go from you meeting their needs to them meeting their needs or them seeking Jesus to meet their needs. You shouldn’t be their need-meeter or their constant savior.
As I have reflected, God has given me the answers I need on how I handle my teens. I don’t have to make it all better. I don’t have to be their savior. If I am their savior, then Jesus cannot step in and be their savior.
Their moodiness is not a reflection of my parenting. Their neediness is not a reflection of my parenting. Their rebellious, eye-rolling attitude is not actually my problem. It’s not because of me. It’s not personal. I shouldn’t take it personally. It’s not because they hate me, it’s because they are fighting for some independence. That has nothing to do with me. That has everything to do with them.
I would have never learned this had I not sat down, reflected, and wrote my own parenting book. Like I said, I sought many mentors. I sought people and asked them what to do. I have had mothers say, “I can talk to you in five months because I am really busy.” I have had mothers say, “I don’t know what I did. Just pray.” “Ask them what I did because I didn’t do anything right. Maybe they can tell you something I did right. Ask my own kids.” I have had people I genuinely respected—they are spirit-filled believers—and they could not give me an answer. That is not okay. To train up the next generation, we need to know what we did right. The only way to do that is to step back and reflect. “Here is what we did right and here is what we did wrong.” One of the things that you do right is admitting your weaknesses to your children when you are a failure as a mother. Reveal to them that you are not perfect. Only one is perfect and his name is Jesus.
We can love radically. It was in reflecting and writing my own parenting book that I got the exact mentoring that I needed. It didn’t come from man. It came from God. He showed me how to reflect on my past.
Everyone has a story. You need to reflect. Write it down. You have a story that you could publish.