Tag Archives: parenting

This blog was written a few months ago and I am just publishing it now. I needed to let it percolate and seek the okay from family members, because it is real and a bit vulnerable…but hopefully encouraging to you as you know you don’t walk this parenting journey alone.

I do my best processing of life on airplanes. There is something about being confined to my own little space with no distraction except the occasional beverage cart or turbulent air pocket.  I am trapped and it is blissful. 

Out in the wide open world I have trouble containing myself. There is so much to see and do and be.  I am constantly pursuing and being pursued in wonderful friendships, pouring time into my family and my relationship with the Lord.  It too is blissful.  Yet my heart and brain are so busy and full that I don’t find much time for quiet reflection.  Which is why, right now, I am writing, almost 40,000 feet above the earth, traveling over cities and farmland and lakes, but in my own space of solitude with a blanket on my lap and a soda on the empty seat next to me.

Today I am thinking about parenting.  We are in the throws of teenage life.

My husband took me to the airport this morning, he taking his own flights, me on another route, and we will meet up in New Jersey tonight and spend the day in New York City together tomorrow, just the two of us on a little 24 hour vacation.  On the early morning car ride I brought up a sensitive topic—one of our children and how to navigate a promise we made to him and that we don’t fully agree on the appropriate reward at the end.

It is just one of the places we spend a lot of time lately-navigating our different opinions on parenting our teenager.  Me from my background, my husband from his, we circle the issues over and over, slowly, slowly coming together in the center.  It is taking time.  It hasn’t been easy. 

Up until our teenager parenting years we were always on the same page as mom and dad.  A unified front.  But what I have realized is that teenagers will peel back all the layers of ourselves, down to the tender core. The stakes feel high.  We can see the clock running out on their time with us and we care SO darn much about the people they are growing into.

Teenagers expose our messy, darker sides as we fight to control our emotions, have endless patience, and exhaust ourselves seeking the wisest way to handle each and every situation.

Growth.  It is a constant companion these days.

Just this week I smiled with clenched teeth at my daughter in the orthodontist’s waiting room as she argued with me in front of a room full of parents paging through magazines.  I reached for her phone after asking her to put it away several times and she pulled it away, thinking we were playing a game.  I. Was. Not. 

The playful arguing continued, evoking raised eyes and sideways glances from the people sitting around us. Until we got into the car…and I lost it.  Unfettered emotion and frustration and embarrassment spilled all over her.  She began to cry.

I had surprised her. She thought I thought it was funny, that we were just goofing around.  By all my outward signs she was right in her interpretation—getting publicly mad at my daughter and creating a scene is about as comfortable to me as sitting on a cactus.  So in the moment I play with fake smiles and clenched teeth “Please give me your phone…”. When inside I am wrapping up more and more tightly, like a coiled spring.

The emotion and tears and raised voices continued all the way home.  It was messy.  In our driveway, my daughter and I sat and talked it out.  I said I understood how she misinterpreted the situation, and that I was very sorry for not handling it better once we were alone.  She apologized for arguing and not being respectful.  We agreed to do better, both of us.

My tender core.  Needing growth, again.  So much stretching and learning and being humbled.   

And then last night, as we celebrated Father’s Day on our back patio on a stunningly beautiful Colorado evening, my girls called, “Mom! Come hold our feet!”  They were upside down, a 19 and 15 year old, in the grass trying to imitate a paired headstand yoga pose they had found in an Athleta magazine.  Giggling uncontrollably.

I walked through the grass, stepping on the thick blades and over dog poop land mines.  Holding the magazine in the air my girls said, “Hold our feet together this way!” Laughing, I tried…to hold their feet… but they couldn’t both stay in their pose at the same time. Breathless and giggling they kept falling over. 

I could only grab one leg and then as the other child’s leg came up the first one would fall. More giggling, “Try again!” More grabbing and falling and mismatched poses. Breathless laughing.  “Once more Mom!”  We never got it.  And it didn’t matter. The point wasn’t “getting it”. The point was the moment together, the laughing and trying and falling.

That is the Parenting Teenagers Experience.  Wanting to grab all their feet and connect them in perfect synchronicity to hold the perfect yoga pose.  No falling.  No multiple tries.  Spot on the first try.  Wanting the beautiful, composed image of a happy healthy family, like the sculpted Altheta models on a beach in Tahiti or somewhere.  Peaceful. Perfect. Balanced.

But instead, grabbing one child solidly only to lose grip on the other.  Lot’s of falling over, lots of trying, never quite in sync.

I call these “almost poses.” Almost always showing grace and patience and forgiveness.   Almost responding the right way every time.  Almost completely understanding each other’s point of view.  Almost perfect.

Almost.

Sometimes this place of “almostness” feels really discouraging.   I feel like I should have mastered how to react to stressful situations with my kids at this point, know the wisest call to make at every new issue, and how to always be on the same parenting page with my incredible husband by now.

Other times, when I am in a healthy spiritual place, I see this “not yet there” as a gift of the journey.  God has work to do in me, in my husband, in our children.  He can’t grow perfect people.  He can’t use perfect families to demonstrate forgiveness and mercy and grace and hope. 

God wants to sanctify me—the process of renewal and change for His purpose and aligned with his heart.

This is done, I am realizing, in “almost poses,” clumsy and surrounded by poop land mines, and meltdowns in the car.  It is where he can do his best work.

Not on a beach in Tahiti.

Those of us who are in this phase of life know what I am talking about.  I would encourage you to find a friend who is willing to share about the hard parts, who is striving to be the best mom possible, and walk this journey together.

I have several of those friends, but one in particular, who lives a over a thousand miles away and is walking closely with me through these teenage parenting years.  We text each week, sometimes call, sharing prayer requests, asking for advice.  We are brutally honest and completely real.  She is safe for me, and I for her.

We love our families with a fierceness that gets us in trouble sometimes, but we remind each other to embrace the process God is taking us all through.   We sometimes get off the phone completely validated, and sometimes completely challenged to get back in the ring of raising great kids and showing up well for our husbands.  It is awesome. 

Find your people.

So press on fellow parent. Strive not for perfection but for sanctification. 

I’m taking a sip of my Diet Pepsi now, gazing out at the patches of land below as the plane begins it’s decent.

We are almost there.

Xoxo

Amy

I don’t post blogs every week, but every week I do post content on my Facebook page–on parenting, faith, and design, so “like” my page and join in!  http://www.facebook.com/amyhayesblog/

 

 

 

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A few months ago my daughter, Maddie, asked if I could help her with her homework.  I took a screenshot of our text message conversation because it was a painful (but important) truth for me about how she perceived my attentiveness toward her:

 

 

Maddie is my brutally honest child.  And I love her for it.  She felt the need to highlight my history of “un-devoted” or “distracted” homework helping skills in the past.  And she was completely right in asking for my complete attention.

See, I am a distracted mom. Ask anyone in my family.  I am usually thinking of or trying to do five things at once, because I think I can.  But I really can’t, at least not well.

This need to be power productive at all times causes me to forget things my family has said to me because I was half-listening to them in the first place.  They often talk to my back as I whisk around the house with an armload of laundry or watering the plants out back or picking up shredded toilet paper rolls off the floor (thanks to our new puppy).   Often I am on my computer, responding to emails or blogging–and it’s effort to peel my eyes off the screen and shift my thoughts from what I am writing to what they are saying.  I rarely stop and look them in the eye, bend down to their level, put down what I am doing….why? Because I think I can multi-task and meet their needs while meeting mine.

The truth is, I shouldn’t “multi-task” my children.  When I do, I am not fully present with them–they only get a slice of me, and the world gets all the other slices.  And that sends a powerful message to them about their priority in my life.

I remember through my childhood years and even into college when I would call my dad at work, he would always, always take my call.  And he was the president of the company he owned.  He had important things to do and important meetings to have.  But whenever his secretary let him know I was on the phone, he stopped what he was doing and talked to me.  It’s not that I needed to feel loved…I knew he loved me.  I think it meant so much because it showed me I was more important to him than all the other important things in his life.

That’s what our kids want.  They want to know that when they ask for homework, we think that time together is worth a king’s ransom.  They want to know that when they are talking to us, we have eyes for them only, and their words and thoughts they are sharing are more important to us than our phone or computer screen, or the pile of mail to sort through.

It’s not always easy.  There are times when our kids just can’t be our center of attention. Maybe we have an important work project due or need to get the dinner in the oven.  It’s okay, we need to have grace for ourselves, because it is not good for our kids to be the center of attention all the time.

My point is more this…the reality that for many of us our kids are rarely the center of our attention.  At least for me.  My tasking, productive, technology-wooed life is a distracted one.  I am often not a fully present mom to them.

How about you?

The good news is that change is not that hard.  It’s being intentional with some new habits like looking our children in the eye, shutting the computer when they are around or just sitting still and being available. We CAN push past the shiny objects in our day that beg for our attention, and instead give it to our flesh and blood standing right beside us.

I have created a “Distracted Mom Quiz” to help clarify our areas of most distracted behavior and where we are doing a great job.  At the end are some practical tips and encouraging thoughts to help us regroup and find our way back to where I believe we all want to be as moms…present and engaged.

So, are you a distracted mom?  Maybe ask your kids.  Have a conversation with them and listen to their perspective.

Technology and busyness are our greatest barriers to being fully connected with our kids.

How are these getting in the way of your best parenting goals?

I’ve created a quiz to help us figure out exactly where we struggle.  I’ve included some tips on how we can start being less distracted moms right now:

And please, don’t be discouraged!  This is a tough one friends, but it’s never too late to make changes.

xoxo,

Amy

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I have been a parent now for nineteen years.  Some days I feel like I have learned and grown so much as a parent that I could sit with a new mom and pour wonderful nuggets of wisdom into her cup.  Other days I feel completely unequipped and literally exhale doubt and confusion about how to walk this parenting journey well.

Over the years I have garnered advice from various sources and tried numerous “systems” in our home to to be an intentional, character developing mom.  Many of the new things I have tried have totally flopped, and some have been a great success.  Today I want to share with you three of my most successful parenting “hacks.”    These are resources that are not only extremely helpful to me as a mom, but continue to help me again and again as my mothering seasons change:

MOTHER AND SON by Eggerich

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This book is a must read for any mother of a son.  Eggerich writes about speaking a different language with our sons–a language of respect.  We are natural speakers of love and affection as moms, but he teaches us how to reach our son’s hearts by speaking words of respect and honor to them.  I began to see changes in my relationship with my son as soon as I started implementing the wisdom in the book.  It’s well worth having in your parenting library– you can click here to find it on Amazon:
Mother and Son: The Respect Effect

CIRCLE by Disney  

So……this is not my children’s favorite but it is one of mine.  I have struggled with managing the technology beast in our house that was threatening some core values we had as a family–protecting what our children watched on screens (what we are putting in to our minds), time spent on screens (how we manage our time), and sleep (…pretty sure sleep can be a core value).

With Circle, you order a small modem that you get for a one time $99.00 fee.  When it arrives at your house you plug it in and the modem basically re-routes all the Wi-Fi in your home through the Circle network.  You then download an app and from your phone can manage all the users of any device in your house.

For example, my daughter has a computer and a phone.  Both of these devices are recognized by Circle which means I can see all the apps on her phone and subsequently manage all of them (Snapchat, Instagram, Netflix, etc.), specifically how long she can be on each app (like one hour on YouTube/day).  I can also see what websites she is visiting.

I can also set filters for all the devices (ours are all set to Teen) and set a wake up and sleep time which shuts down the devices at night.

For our family, Circle became necessary when our kids grew old enough to stay up later than my husband and me (actually we are just getting old an needing to go to bed earlier) and we were concerned how long into the night they were on their devices with no supervision.  However, I wish I would have been able to start Circle earlier when our kids first started having phones and computers.

As our teens get older, I will graduate them out of Circle since they will need to learn to manage their time on devices on their own, but for now it is helping them set good habits and learn reasonable time limits for their phone and video use (and I don’t think we can protect our sons enough from access to pornography).

You can order CIRCLE HERE if you want to give it a try…it has given me great peace of mind.

 

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY PODCAST  

I started listening to this a couple of years ago and boy do I wish I would have had this resource earlier in my parenting years.  This podcast is one of THE MOST helpful and encouraging (and challenging) tools I have had as a mom.  The podcast is every day, and it ranges from marriage to parenting to discipline to faith building topics.  They are all amazing. But the parenting ones have been priceless for me.  Here is the link.  I have downloaded the app on my phone and listen while I am driving or doing chores around the house.

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast

So, those are my three favs.  I hope maybe one of these is helpful to you in your parenting journey. We need to link arms as moms and encourage and help each other out as we raise our kiddos.

Blessings to you!

~Amy

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(Shared with permission from our son who is an amazing kid and I will be buying him a large Blizzard from D.Q. for letting me pick on him in this post)

A few months back my husband, son and I stood in our family room in the midst of a tense discussion. Our fifteen year-old had just responded in a not-so-stellar way to the idea that he would have to be dropped off at work a half an hour early to accommodate our schedules.

Since we had been working on respectful responses with our son for a few months now, and it had cropped up again, my husband decided enough was enough.  He proceeded to tell our son that instead of getting a ride to Chick-Fil-A that day for work, he would need to ride his bike the three miles to get there…and he better get a move on to make it in time.

Now a teenager riding his bike to work may not seem like a big deal, but it was for me. Our kids just haven’t ridden their bikes much outside of our neighborhood before.  We live in a semi-remote neighborhood where it takes riding a distance to get anywhere other than a gas station.

So as my husband stood his ground and told our son to hurry up and make sure the tires were full of air, I sat a little stunned on the couch.  Here’s what was going on inside my head:

“He’s never ridden his bike to work, can he do it?” (that sounds silly even as I write it but I really asked myself that question). “Is it too far?  What about the busy roads?  How will my directionally challenged son know how to get there?”

Even though my protective mom instinct was sounding off full volume,  I kept my mouth shut.  I needed to let my husband take the reigns on this one because this was a recurring issue lately and an important one. We clearly needed something tougher to use as a consequence than taking his phone away (which is what we had been doing).

Our son immediately went into sorry mode, which made staying quiet even harder.   He pleaded and then realizing he was getting nowhere got mad,  stormed into the garage and rode away.

I fought all sorts of urges to stop the whole scene.  But why?  Why was it so hard for me to accept that our son needed to have a hard consequence?

I’ve given this some thought…a lot of thought actually.  And I have three main ideas about why it is so difficult for those of us who are parents to give hard consequences to our kids.

ONE:  It Causes Us Pain

I feel pain when my kids are struggling and darn it, I don’t want to feel pain.  And I don’t only feel pain, but I worry and stress and doubt about the decision. As loving parents, we carry a fierce instinct to protect our children, and I think we feel like we’re leaving them outside to weather the storm alone when we dole out the tough love.

I’ve noticed I am mostly unaffected when grounding our kids or taking their phones away or making them do chores for misbehavior. But the truth is while those things are challenging for our kids, they often do not produce long term-results.

Sometimes we need to be brave enough to raise the bar on the discipline.  In our trying to “protect” them and soften the consequence, we ultimately fail at protecting them from turning into self-indulgent, self-centered, “me” focused children.

TWO: We Don’t Like Our Kids Being Upset With Us

I don’t know about your family, but when we set a boundary or say no to something, especially something that is a “big deal” to our kids, they aren’t all lovey dovey with us.

In fact, we may experience some anger or aloofness or distance from our kids.  We feel disconnected with them.  Doesn’t this go against everything we normally fight for as moms–feeling connected with our children?

We work so hard to create harmony and unity in our homes, between siblings, in our marriage, and with our relationship with our children, that the break in harmony really feels… yucky (that’s the most accurate word I can come up with).  It makes me sad, and my day harder, and adds to the tension in every conversation I need to have with that child…so I avoid it, even if it’s unintentional.

THREE: We Are Little Picture Responders Instead of Big Picture Fighters

Ultimately, we are so close to and emotionally involved in the situation that it is often difficult for us to step back and see that the misbehavior is actually derailing our great intentions for our kids’ character.

I think we all can agree that we want to raise respectful, kind, considerate, grateful kids.  It is often when our kids are disrespectful, unkind, inconsiderate and ungrateful that we are faced with the discipline decision.  Yet at that crucial moment we often make excuses for them or soften the discipline because of the previous two reasons.

We need to circle back to the kind of little/big people we want to raise.  The consequence, however painful for all involved, works toward that goal.  It is for their own good, and we need to fight for what is best for them.

The story wraps up like this.   Our son made it to work, and on the way there he was pulled over by a police officer who kindly told him that he couldn’t ride his bike across the bridge over the highway (no we didn’t bribe an officer to add a little extra shake up to the situation, but not bad timing).

After work our son texted me for a ride home since he would have to ride back over the highway to get home and didn’t want to have a second conversation with a police officer in one day.

I fully expected to pick up an angry child who didn’t want to speak to me.  My husband had left out of town for work so I braced myself emotionally for the evening ahead.

Instead, a humble and respectful young man got in the car and thanked me for picking him up.

Wow.

This was a lesson for our son, but it was a bigger lesson for me.  I learned that the hard consequences work, and more importantly that I could handle the pain they caused my mom-heart.  As our children continue to go through their teen years I often think about this day.  I remember that it is okay for our kids to sweat it out (literally) in order to experience changed behavior.

The truth is, our kids can handle hard consequences.  We are the ones that often can’t.

God is the perfect parent.  He does not cushion our life-lessons.  No, He let’s us fall hard, mess up, struggle and even suffer the consequences of our actions.  But He never leaves us, always is there to love us and care for us in the midst of our pain.  May I continue to look heavenward for the best parenting example ever.

Please love on another mom today and share this post with her–let’s encourage each other to be the best parents we can be.

~Amy

PS: If you are wanting to hear a whole lot of great parenting advice, you can attend the online MOM CONFERENCE next week, October 11, 12th and 13th.  It is FREE and you will get access to amazing speakers, and hopefully feel strengthened and encouraged in your mothering journey.

Here’s a short video sharing more:

Just click HERE for more information or to register!

MOM CONFERENCE 2016

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Hello!  I dare say it’s finally spring here in Colorado.  After weeks of below average temps and way above average precipitation (i.e. seat heaters in car and socks in bed required), the sun is warming the air and everyone’s spirits around here.

Something else is warming my spirits and I wanted to share it with you.  I found out about a magazine that is chocked full of resources for those of us who strive to make our home organized, our children connected to God, and our marriages thriving.

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Molly Green is for HOMEMAKERS, HOMESCHOOLERS, and if you are so cool to be this: HOMESTEADERS.  You can imagine all the topics covered and resources provided on this site.

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But, my favorite part and the reason to subscribe is just one thing.  With a yearly subscription, you also get FREE access to an online video library of hundreds of videos on topics such as PARENTING, MARRIAGE, FINANCES, LEADERSHIP, CONFERENCE SESSIONS (like “IF’), MEN’S ISSUES, WOMEN’S ISSUES, BIBLE STUDIES,  and more!

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Through Right Now Media, you have access to all of these videos for a yearly price, but if you subscribe to MollyGreen.com, you get the magazine PLUS all the videos included!

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It’s really quite amazing.  So, if you would like to check it out CLICK HERE.

To me, spring is about starting fresh, renewal, new growth.  I love seeing it bloom outside the kitchen window, and in our home.

I hope this provides some resources you can use for your own renewal.

xoxo,

Amy

PS: Please enter your email to subscribe!  I am going to be sending some special newsletters throughout the year that will only go to those on the email list.

 

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