Saturday, May 12, 2012

The mother I want to be.

Whenever I meet a teenager who really seems to get along with their mother, I am quick to ask the mother what her secret is.  It's easy for my kids to like me now and easy for them to want to spend time with me now...but what is it that will make them want to spend time with me when they are older.

Not surprisingly, the teenagers I know who actually enjoy spending time with their mothers are teenagers that I really enjoy spending time with as well!  Now who wouldn't want to raise children like that?

I want that.  I want to be that kind of mother.

Now the mothers who shared with me all had different pieces of advice, but a few themes were consistent.  Being a mom that your teenager wants to be around involves:

1.   Time
      Time was the #1 answer that mothers gave me when I asked about how they got to where they were with their children.  Time didn't mean time doing super high energy crafty fieldtrip super mom things.  It meant just being there.  It meant being around for the big stuff and for the small stuff.  One daughter said when she got on the school bus she felt better just knowing that if she needed her mother, she was there.

2.  Listening
     One of my most favorite mothers is a beautiful woman who used to be our nanny when I worked.  I asked how how she managed to keep the communication open with her teenaged daughter.  She told me that she has always made herself available to listen. She quickly added that listening did not always equate agreeing with what she was listening to!  Instead, listening meant that she would let her daughter speak without being dismissed or rushed.  Even if what she was hearing was difficult, she listened and offered support.

3.  Respect in the marriage
    When children see their parents being respectful of one another, they learn to talk respectfully to their parents.  Children will learn to argue like their parents argue.  How silly to expect our children to talk sweetly to us when we lash out at our spouses.  Dr. Ray Guarendi, a Catholic psychologist, commented in a talk once that parents were responsible for having children talk nicely to the other parent.  For instance, if he heard one of his children talking harshly to his wife he would always step up and say sternly "Please do not talk to my wife that way."  When I heard that I loved it!  Not only does it teach children the respect they should have for their parents, but it is also teaching them that their parents consider their marriage worth defending.

Children learn what they live.  This I know is true.  Mother's learn from each other.  This I'm learning is true as well.

Happy Mother's Day! May you be blessed today and every day!

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  1. Great post! Making sure I'm really listening is one of the hardest things for me to do and really try to make an effort to give my full attention. Happy Mother's Day! :)

  2. I love that you're thinking about the teenage years even though your girls are young. I do that too, and wondered if other moms did the same. Thanks for the good advice.

  3. Sabrina JustisonMay 13, 2012 at 7:51 AM

    Beautiful post, Nicole! I have been blessed with kids that have stayed close even as they've entered adulthood. I agree wholeheartedly that the LISTENING thing was hugely important. My kids learned that they would not freak me out no matter what they said; I wouldn't necessarily agree or enable behavior based on it, but I would listen and not flip. There are times (usually late at night when I'm exhausted...that's seems to be when the heavy discussions always have to happen!) when my blood pressure is probably sky-high because I am deeply trouble by something they need to say out loud and process, but by the grace of God I will not lose it with the kid. When they feel safe to say hard things, they are so much more able to hear the faulty points in their own ideas, to notice the contradictions in their logic, to see that what they are considering doesn't line up with the word of God. I often don't have to "set them straight" at all now that they are teens and older; they do it themselves as I quietly sit and listen to them process.

  4. Lena (LuvMyCrzyLife)May 13, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    Beautiful, Nicole! These are all excellent pieces of advice. The few minutes I spent with you at 2:1 tells me that you are intentional and diligent in raising your children the way God would have you do it.

    Happy Mother's Day! I pray it is beautiful!

  5. I agree with Sabrina full-heartedly! Listen...without freaking out. Also, we as parents should learn to admit mistakes and apologize/ask for forgiveness when needed.
    Let our children know that we were young once and probably experienced a lot of emotions that they did. We're not as old or stupid as they think.
    Once they know that we're "real" they may want the relationship more and more.
    I'll admit, even though my oldest daughters (17 and 18) and I are close, they still don't think I'm cool all the time to want to hang out with me, but the conversations at home are priceless.

  6. That is GREAT admit mistakes and ask for forgiveness. That is good advice, actually, for relationships with anybody! Thank you Kela!

  7. Thank you Lena! It was a beautiful mother's day! Happy Mother's day to you too!

  8. What an AWESOME blessing for your children to confide and talk to you. I remember my teenage years relying on my friends' opinions on matters of my heart. Really what I needed (and probably wanted) was someone who really loved me and had my soul in mind to talk to. Happy Mothers Day Sabrina! God has blessed you! :)

  9. Happy Mother's day to you too Angie! Hope today was a beautiful one for you!

  10. Excellent advice! I struggled in my relationship with my mom because she wasn't there, she wasn't available and she didn't listen - she judged. I really want to have a good relationship with my girls and am constantly striving to make sure I don't repeat what my mom did.

    I should mention that my relationship is better with my mom now, although I would love for it to be even closer.

  11. Much love to you, Nicole. I struggle with my relationship with my mother, for so many reasons. I don't make it public on my site, because I know she reads it from time to time, and I don't want to embarrass her.

    My oldest daughter moved in with her father 2 years ago (she's now 17), and it broke my heart to see her go. Now days, our relationship is better, not nearly as strained as it has been in the past, but BOY do I still miss her. She's growing up, and I'm missing so many things in her life, but I know it needs to be this way for now.

    She seems more mature to me know, and I hope that one day, she'll understand that a lot of the issues that we had were because of grief on her part -- she was upset and angry that I was remarried, with more children, and nothing could stop her from blaming me.


    I lean on Our Blessed Mother so heavily -- it helps me tremendously.

    One thing I'd add to your friend's list -- with regards to listening and time -- don't be surprised if your teenager approaches you at the absolute worst/oddest moment. Abby used to come to me in the evenings, after the small fry were in bed. I just wanted peace and ALONE time then, but I later learned from a wise Christian therapist, that she was approaching me at a time she felt she would best be heard. Whoops on my part.

    As well -- you have to try your very hardest to be non judge-mental when listening to your teenager - I cringe at the stories Abby tells me, but if I want her to come to me, I need to listen.

    I know this was a HUGE comment, but posts like these speak to my heart. Thank you for putting yourself out there.

  12. What a beautiful post! I too think often about how to keep the closeness going even as they grow. Lots of food for thought you've given me, thank you!

  13. Nicole,
    Such excellent advice. I so agree-you have to listen without freaking out. My husband taught me that--I learned a little bit later in my son's teen years, but in plenty of time for my daughter. As a result, she and I talk about a lot of things that my mom and I never discussed. Not judging and showing respect--two great pieces of advice.

    I don't know if you remember me from 2:1, but we got to talk several times, and I so enjoyed getting to know you. Your daughters are simply precious!

    thanks for sharing your heart with us!
    Michelle (from Apologia)

  14. Michelle! I remember you! I'm glad that you and your children have a great relationship. I imagine that "not freaking out" when listening to your kids is something that takes practice! Some days I think I can practice NOW when my children are young! Just today my daughter was "trying" to explain to me how something of mine broke. I could tell it was a lie in the first 10 seconds of her talking..but I really did try to listen to her side of the story. But I freaked out afterwards, does that still count? :)

  15. I'm so glad to hear that your relationship is better with you mother now...what a blessing second chances are huh? I constantly worry if I will repeat the same mistakes my own mother made...then I turn it around and think that I have CONCRETE things to work on to help me with my relationship with my kids. Similar to you!

  16. I sent you a PM. I love though that you lean on Our Blessed Mother. How beautiful. We have the PERFECT mother in her. Talk about a role model!