Help! My Daughter is Thirteen: on Parenting Teens

On Parenting Teens

My daughter turned thirteen this year. THIRTEEN! I can’t believe it’s been thirteen years since my little premature princess made her debut on the earth.  When people ask how old my kids are, the wide-eyed expression often emerges when I say the dreaded number: thirteen.

It’s true that the teen years can be some of the most challenging for kids and parents. It’s not unlikely to hear expressions like these in reference to parenting adolescents:

Mothers of teenagers know why animals eat their young. -Unknown

Mother Nature is providential. She gives us twelve years to develop a love for our children before turning them into teenagers. -William Galvin

Adolescence is perhaps nature’s way of preparing parents to welcome the empty nest.  ~Karen Savage and Patricia Adams, The Good Stepmother

Snow and adolescence are the only problems that disappear if you ignore them long enough.  ~Earl Wilson

It’s going to be daunting, isn’t it?

Maybe not.

As I was sitting in church this morning, the young svelte mini-me sitting to my right reached over and grabbed my hand. I looked over at her and she touched her forehead to mine. I adore this girl. Like, deeply adore her.

When she was little I loved her too. Her cute little pigtails that looked like Boo from Monsters Inc. The way she sang all the time, making up funny-to-me words. Her flopping feet when she tried to tap dance at age four. But it’s different now. I not only love her, but I like her too. She is one of the kindest souls I’ve ever known, she’s funny and oh so talented. I’m proud when I see her babysitting, loving and caring for little children. She loves the Lord and loves to worship Him with song and dance.

Unlike when she was very little, we can actually have deeper, meaningful conversations. Just yesterday, we were working on some choreography and I thought to myself, “This is really fun.” Not like, “I like doing this but I’d rather be out with my girlfriends.” But like, “I would rather do this right now than anything else.”

Sometimes I think, maybe she’s the exception. Maybe the other two will be difficult. My tween almost-11-year-old? Nope. I like her too, including her quintessential creative mind that I don’t always understand. The 8-year-old wacky one? Nope. I celebrate her unconventional quirks and deep sensitivity that sometimes exasperate me.

It’s not supposed to be like this, though. I’m supposed to be at odds with my teen. She’s supposed to be difficult and all “teenagery.” I’m supposed to know why animals eat their young. “Just wait!” you might say. Wait till she’s in High School, wait till she’s 17, you’ll see.

I don’t want to live in waiting for my kids to turn into monsters.

Are there (rare) times when we don’t like each other that much? Sure. Does she ever have an attitude? The better question: do I ever have an attitude? Don’t answer that, girls! Do we have to deal with hurt feelings and heavy loads, consequences of certain behavior? Of course. But I don’t have to dwell on those tough times. We clash, we repent, we learn and we move on.

I’m just beginning my journey into parenting teens. I admit I don’t know much. It may seem to fall apart in a few years, but there are a few things I know to be true.

  • My children are not mine. They belong to the Lord. “For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:7-8, ESV).
  • True wisdom comes from the Lord. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. (James 1:5-6, ESV).
  • Even if things do fall apart, God uses everything (even angst-ridden teens) for His glory. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28, ESV).

So instead of expecting drudgery, I’d like to pledge to focus on the Lord and the three blessings he has given so generously for my husband and I to raise – for such a short time. I’m going to look for the good, and we’ll work together to overcome the bad. And finally, in regards to the coming teen years, I will try to fulfill Philippians 4:8:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

And to other moms of teens, I’ll pray for you if you’ll pray for me. Leave a comment here to let me know.

Disclosure: My lovely daughter read and approved this post before publishing. 

UPDATE:

I want to be clear that I’m not claiming here that everyone should have an adolescent parenting experience that is all unicorns and roses. I know parenting is hard sometimes. I know for some parents, though they do everything “right,” kids make bad choices, they have emotional issues and special needs, and sometimes they are just rebellious! What I’m saying is that I want to view this time of parenting with the eyes of the Lord and not the world. And remember my second and third point up there- ask for wisdom and remember that He even uses the tribulations for His glory.

If you and your teen are having a difficult time, God has a word for that too:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Coritnthians 1:3-4, ESV

About Sarah Pinnix

I'm a mom, blogger, vlogger, libertarian. I love Jesus, and my husband, too. Social Media Strategist for a Non-Profit (All statements here are solely my own)

Comments

  1. Tiffany Christian says:

    You have sown good seeds into fertile soil…these teen years are a time to enjoy the beauty of seeing those seeds sprout in anticipation of what she will reap as an adult. I have enjoyed my teenagers so far (ages 16 1/2 and 14 11/12). That is not to say we don’t have our moments because all humans have those but I can say that as I strive to demonstrate God’s grace and love to them, they strive to return it. Sometimes we missed the mark but we always trust the sincerity of our hearts and our ability to forgive.

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    Sarah Pinnix Reply:

    Tiffany, you have been an inspiration to me in this area! Your teens are growing to become strong, independent, brilliant, and kind.

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  2. Shawna Lee says:

    OH, I am praying with you. We are 2 months into 13 and I love hanging out with my sweet girl. I need to remember that her interests are not necessarily mine and not push mine onto her. But thankfully we both love the Lord so we have that in common.

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    Sarah Pinnix Reply:

    Praying for you too, Shawna! My oldest and I are very much alike but you’re right, my other two have different interests and I have to celebrate them!

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  3. My girls are 15, 17, and 20, and parenting them through their teenage years has been the biggest, most amazing blessing in my life. When my oldest was very young, I listened to a woman at church praise her house full of teenagers, and gush about how much she loved parenting them. It was the first time I can clearly remember a parent speaking of teenagers in such a positive way, and I was changed. I decided right then that I would adopt the same attitude with my own children, no matter what. My girls have been a joy. We have our moments, and one of my daughters had a difficult two years where we struggled. But I have never felt “at odds” with them, we are on the same team, we are journeying through all of this together. I love, love, love parenting my teens!!!

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    Sarah Pinnix Reply:

    Thank you, Stacey! You are one that I have watched enjoying your teens and one of my inspirations for this post!!

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  4. Yes!!!! While we has a bumpy few weeks last summer, my just-turned-14-year-old is one of my very favorite people. It isn’t always easy, but the best parts of life aren’t. I see her and realize the way my Father sees me … His precious child, desperately in need of love, encouragement, and guidance.

    I love you, sweet Sarah, and I look forward to walking this road of teenagers with you.

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  5. I love my teenagers! Talking and talking and more talking is the key here. I freely have always told my kids you don’t have to agree or like it/me but what I do is best for you and discussion is encouraged. I want them to own their feelings even if they are negative towards me. They can get mad, but they can’t be disrespectful.

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    Sarah Pinnix Reply:

    I love your teens too, Katie! I’ve learned a lot from you.

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  6. Jaime
    Twitter: cjoy2day
    says:

    Emma is so sweet, and seems so innocent and you when I see her. You’ve done well to preserve her youth and exposure. I remember when Jordyn started really getting to that age that I just fell in love with her. Not as my child, but who she was. She’s my breath of fresh air, especially coming up behind a very difficult teen. And I find myself sometimes feeling guarded because I think if she ever does anything big to get in trouble, I’ll be crushed. That day was yesterday for me and I’m heart broken. But this is a good reminder that this too shall pass and again I’ll be in love with who she is and value that we are both sinners alike looking for God’s grace as we move forward through these years together.

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  7. I’ve got a tween, and most days I adore her. Days that I don’t, it’s usually me that’s the problem. I’m not being patient enough or something I see in her reminds me of something I don’t like in myself and I react negatively. She has her moments where she’s distraught and doesn’t understand anything about her friends or some “minor” conflict, but I remember doing that too. It comes with the season.

    One thing I’ve realized is that she needs my undivided attention more now than ever before. I need to really listen. I need to really just be there. I need to be ready at any time and any place to speak truth to her when she is open to hear it. Most of the time that’s in the car.

    I’ve come to adore hanging out with her, talking to her, traveling with her. I pray that we will always be close and that when we bicker, we always come back around to “I love you.” It’s an exciting time. One where I can see the fruits of the foundation we helped create and am looking forward to what God does next.

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    Kelly {the Centsible Life}
    Twitter: centsiblelife
    Reply:

    You said what I think, too. When I have issues with my kids it always comes back to my attitude.

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  8. Karen Kimbro says:

    Sarah I have seen you and your girls grow together. You are truly an amazing mother and I pray that you will continue to put your girls in God’s hands. His plans are so much greater than our own. I admire you so much.

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  9. After reading your post and the comments, I have hope that it won’t be the dreaded thing everyone makes it out to be. My kids are 4 and 7 and although the have their days, it’s so fun to see them grow and watch them experience things (soccer, trips, etc). You’re an awesome mom, Sarah!

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  10. I love this post! I wrote a similar post on my blog and article for a newsletter. When my oldest daughter was the same age as yours I would get those looks (and rude comments!) from people who rarely spoke to me. I always admonished them that the mom/daughter relationship doesn’t automatically turn into a battleground once she was a teenager. I refused to let it happen and worked to ensure it didn’t. I remember the bump in the road that signaled I was supposed to begin admonishing her, disagreeing and yelling… and she attempted the brooding teenager. It didn’t stick. I pushed through it – the maybe ONE month of adjustment.

    I’m happy to tell people that my daughter and I are still very close. We share a lot of things, we spend a lot of time together and we enjoy each others’ company. She’s one of my best friends. This was true all through her high school years as well. She’s 23 now and a mommy herself. I love seeing the cute little things she’s developing with her young daughter. I only hope I can survive as successfully with my three youngest children (two more daughters to go)! LOL

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