Written by: Brenda L. Yoder M.A.
This weekend, we moved our daughter into her first apartment as a college student. It reminded me of moving her out of her childhood bedroom a year ago. That summer, she gave up her bigger, pinker, orange-with-flowers-on-the-wall room to her younger brother. Transforming her adolescent domain from girly pink to Detroit Lion blue was an adventure. As we sorted, packed, and pitched, we came across journals, secret notebooks, and a menagerie of things a preteen and adolescent girl would accumulate during those years. A babysitting kit, bracelet beads, and a door knob sign that summarized her teen years:
Mom and Dad
I love you and would do anything you say
but sometimes kids need
Quiet Time…and that time is
Leave Me Alone!
If our firstborn could’ve poignantly communicated what this sign says during her teen years, heartache would’ve been eliminated. But God doesn’t send kids with doorknob signs or instruction books, so we muddled through her teen years rather ruthlessly.
Last summer, as I sorted through her drawers and boxes frozen in time, I was flooded at the mercy, love and goodness of God. I was reminded of the complexity of adolescence, wishing I would have better understood fourteen when she was that age so I could have loved her better. Loving emotional teenagers is challenging when they are screaming:
“Leave Me Alone.”
Having learned the hard way, I better understand when a teen says, “Leave me alone.” It means they need space in one way or another. A fellow mom said she felt like a failure because her daughter was shutting her out. I told this mom that respecting her child’s space would actually build a bridge of trust in their relationship, even though the mom-radar says, “I deserve to know everything!” When you appropriately respect a child’s space, they feel heard, understood, and loved. It feeds their need for independence. It gives them a choice to share what they want to share and when, trumping mom’s natural instinct to be in control. Loving teenagers can be uncomfortable.
“Even though she’s pushing you away, she needs you,” was advice given to me when my daughter and I couldn’t communicate. I learned common three- word-rants (“Leave me alone,” ”I hate you,” ”You don’t understand!”) express the emotional activity flooding a teen’s mind and heart. Loving teenagers involves not taking things personally.
Moving my daughter first from her bedroom and now into an apartment, I’m blessed by God’s grace and healing in a relationship that seemed hopeless at times. While painting over the walls of her childhood, it was bittersweet saying good-bye to this period of life. But it was refreshing to create new space for a new time – a time of peace and growth, discovery and beauty, a time where God’s mercies are new every morning, every day.
Now my firstborn says, “Don’t leave!” She calls at random times to hear my voice. I’m amazed at the transformation God has done in just a few short years. Thinking back to the first time I saw God work in her life, I’m amazed at the realness of God.
Authentic realness. The kind you can touch. A life transformed. A heart released to be taken over by the Savior.
Through our journey, I’ve learned:
- Healing comes from battle wounds.
- Strength comes from persevering instead of giving up.
- Love comes from putting self aside.
- Victory comes from releasing instead of holding back.
- Joy comes from understanding life through hope that once was lost.
I’ve learned the best counsel in loving teenagers doesn’t come from doorknob signs or best-selling authors, but from time with the creator of adolescence Himself. Time spent listening, pouring out, and trusting Him to do His work. Even in the “leave me alone!” moments.
Thank goodness He never leaves us alone.
Because God’s doorknob sign says,
I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
How has God equipped you to love your child?
Dear Father, will you speak gently to readers who need to hear your counsel for their situation with their child? Will you pour out exactly what each mom needs to love and understand her child, whether a teenager or toddler? Thank you that you supply all of our needs according to your glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19)
To read more from Not aLone Mom click HERE.