If you are like me, you know what it is like to have those Crazy Mom Moments. It’s when our kids make a statement that puts us in a moment of panic. “Oh my, I have to fix his faulty thinking” is what quickly runs through our brains and all we can think to do at the moment is to challenge what our kid just said to us.
Last week a friend shared one of her Crazy Mom Moments. It was really quiet innocent on her son’s part. Of course the comment came at a most inopportune time when she only had a few minutes to talk. Standing in the kitchen together putting dishes away, her soon to be 17 year old son announced, “Mom, it’s hard to believe that I will only be living here another year. I’ve made the decision that I’ll move out when I’m 18. It will be good for me to be independent and since I’ll be a legal adult I think it makes sense.”
Before Mom could even think to ask why he had reached that decision, she came unglued. “What do you mean you are moving out next year. That will be in the middle of your senior your. How will you get to school? Where will you live? How are you going to pay to live?” and the list went on.
Translated…”How can you be so stupid?
Luckily, the friend calmed herself down quickly enough to say “I’m sorry. We’re going to have to table this discussion until our company leaves, but I do want to continue this after dinner tonight,” just as the doorbell rang. Her son was more than ready for the intrusion into the conversation.
We laughed together as she shared her”what was I thinking?” moment. She knew I had been there many times with my own kids.
All too often, I’ve seen parents head down similar paths with their kids as their teens are starting to form their own opinions about what we would consider crucial life choices. One christian friend cried profusely when her daughter announced that she considered herself an atheist. Mom basically tried to talk her out of it by telling her why she was wrong.
Another kid told his mom he didn’t believe in the power of prayer since his friend was still hurting. The response was “what do you mean you don’t believe in prayer? You can’t be a christian and not believe in prayer.”
A college age student announced that he was moving in with his girlfriend. In a crazy moment, Mom told him not to come to her when the girlfriend got pregnant.
And the stories could continue for pages.
When we challenge our teens in an “I’m right, how can you be so stupid?” fashion, most of the time our kids will pull away rather than move toward us. That means rather than gain credibility, we lose it.
No credibility = No influence
Of course, none of us is perfect, so the real question is how do we turn those Crazy Mom Moments into opportunity for growth for both us and our teen? And how do we help our kids work through their faulty thinking?
- Apologize. Let them know that your response was based on fear and how it goes against what you hope/dream for them. Assure them of your love.
- Let your teen know that you respect them as a separate person and that wrestling with their issues will make them stronger adults. Assure them it is normal to have thoughts different from Mom and Dad’s beliefs.
- Ask permission to share your views on the issue and how you came to your conclusion.
- Assure them that the decisions are theirs to make but that you will be praying for their decisions and hope that if they need to talk with someone that they’ll come back to you and you’ll try to respond more appropriately.
We aren’t going to always be able to influence our kids to our way of thinking, but remember that the goal is still relationship. If we want to influence, we need to make sure we rebuild our credibility even when a Crazy Moment has damaged it.