When our kids are little it is easy to laugh at the cute things they say and do. Even during those early years of school we watch with excitement as they encounter new experiences and are filled with wonder. And then as our kids become tweens and teens the climate in most homes changes. Instead of laughter, life gets serious — sometimes too serious.
Maybe it’s our kids pushing our patience or their mouthiness that makes us as parents feel the need to control. I think sometimes we realize that our kids are no longer those sweet, innocent children any more and we become fearful of the possibilities and reality of what could happen if they make the wrong choices. We push them to strive for excellence in school or in sports because college is looming up ahead and we come to the realization that someone needs to pay for it.
Whatever the circumstance with your teens, take time to fill your home with laughter.
I was talking to a mom a few weeks ago and could feel the weight of heaviness resting on her shoulders. She was giving me a list of all the things her teenage son wasn’t doing. It was obvious that mom had certain expectations that her son was not fulfilling. Blame was heavy as we talked. She no longer found joy in this son, only condemnation. Laughter was the furthest thing from her mind.
I’ll admit I’ve been in that place at times. When our kids are doing things that cause us fear and anxiety it is easy to be so afraid that we can’t find any joy in any moment. At times it seems they aren’t listening to anything we ask them to do. That’s when it is time to take our thoughts captive. It’s when we need to be able to think quickly on our feet in order to turn the difficult moment into a memorable opportunity filled with laughter. It’s where we show our kids that the joy of the Lord is our strength.
So what can that look like?
- When there is conflict in the house, have a family code word. In our house there is a code word that will bring laughter to any situation. If we hear siblings arguing, either Dave or I will enter the room and quietly watch the verbal match. When the right opportunity presents itself, we say the code word and immediately change the subject. Inevitably, our kids will look at each other, then they’ll look at us, and laughter will fill the air. Everyone in the family knows the code word and everyone has permission to use it. It means unhook the bickering and laugh!
- Find the positive in every situation. Even disaster can have a silver lining if we take time to look. If your teen flunks a class, he’ll have opportunity to prove himself again and learn from the mistake. If your daughter wrecks the car, she’ll most likely become a more careful driver. If your teen is still breathing, that is the positive — find joy in that moment.
- Be mindful of the now. Too many times we fearfully get wrapped up in what could happen in the future — won’t get into college, won’t get a scholarship, will end up doing something stupid like alcohol or drugs, or whatever is your greatest fear. Work on the now and the future will take care of itself. Find joy in the moment and love your teen right where he is. Remind yourself that the future is in God’s hands.
- Find time to do fun with your teens. You know your kids better than anyone. Try doing some of the things that they like to do with them. Chances are you’ll bring laughter to the room as you try to lip sync or play one of their video games with them. I’ll never forget being in the mall with my son as we both tried to do DDR (Dance, Dance Revolution for those who don’t know what that is :)) My son never laughed so hard as I drew a crowd in the mall as the worst player ever. It’s a great memory for both of us.
- Take negative comments and situations and turn them into laughter moments. My husband, Dave, is the expert at this in our home and I’m working hard on it. When one of our now 20-somethings comes out with a sharp accusation or negative comment, Dave will take it and put a spin of laughter on it. Just like Dare 15 in With All Due Respect, quick thinking with a dose of humor can turn a difficult moment into an opportunity to teach respect.
Proverbs 31:25 (NLT)
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.
“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Dare you to not take life quite so seriously when your kids become tweens and teens. Humor in the difficulties of life can bring opportunity to model respect and provide teaching opportunities much more than lectures and condemnation.
“Let go…and Let God”,
Want a way to connect with other Moms? Why not grab a copy of With All Due Respect: 40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with Your Teens & Tweens and go through the book together. Whether your kids are 9 or 29, you’ll find the questions will apply to your parenting.
Here’s what Shaunti Feldhahn, Social Researcher and Best Selling Author of For Women Only had to say:
“A spectacular tool for every mom who has heard the advice “be purposeful,” and wondered, “But what does that mean? This ultra-practical guidebook shows each of us what it means. Step by step, day by day, this amazing resource will walk each of us into being the godly moms we all deeply want to be, to have the impact on our kids we are all longing for.”