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:
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.
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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