Today’s Table Talk is by my friend accomplished author, Jane Jarrell.  She tirelessly gives of her time to build into moms and to share the gifts with which God has so richly blessed her.  I’m so grateful for her encouraging words today as I know you will be too.  Thanks, Jane!!

… and thanks for walking the road with me.  -Kay

Let me introduce myself, I am a menopausal mother of a four and a fourteen. (Almost fifteen) After years of trying for a second child I was in the hospital for a hysterectomy, on an IV and ready to roll into the operating room when the doctor came in and said, “I’ve got good news and bad, the bad news, we can’t do your procedure today, the good news, you’re PREGNANT.” A shock heard round the world. At the tender age of 45, right as the equipment was to be removed, another baby. After two miscarriages, I assumed this baby would not really happen, self preservation, of sorts. But, he happened, seven months later, we had a baby boy, Luke. Our only child of ten almost eleven years would have a sibling. Thus began the shift in my relationship with my only child, a princess would have to scoot over and share her throne. Bittersweet.

A teenager, I was one of those good ones, you know, the budding people pleaser.  I assumed our daughter would be the same way.  Our daughter is not a people pleaser.  Now, that said, our fourteen year old is beautiful, intelligent, motivated most of the time, helpful with our little guy, a believer, a pending fashionista, a super singer. BUT we often clash. It starts with an eye-roll or a tone that sounds like fingernails scratching down a chalkboard. Or, a disrespectful comment that ignites me like a firecracker. Thus, the dance begins. Am I doing it all right, NO. My fuse has been short, my patience often thin. Having a miracle man late in life, my body took a real hit. For over two years I fought having to have discs removed and fused in my neck, so as a parent in pain I have been less than Mother Teresa around the house. You stir these circumstances together and we have had a tough go.

When Kay asked me to write about getting along with teens I cringed a bit, because getting along is an understatement right now. Realizing honesty is always the best policy you are getting a “straight up” view of my “in the trench” process. You see, each time we “go at it” my heart aches, I mean literally aches. I think, are these attempts at teaching respect destroying the possibility that we might be friends when she is an adult or will she try and take her first ticket out of the house? Is my anger at her disrespect messing her up? Will she go on Jerry Springer and discuss how her mother ruined her life? “Can I get a witness?”

So, in the midst of the madness and having “heard” my issues, I bet you can’t wait for some advice from me….but here you go anyway, plus I will throw in some advice and tips from a Godly mother that  survived these years and finished well.

Trench tips for handling teens:

·         Prayer and wise counsel—this is where I start. Moms need each other especially during these years, to pray together, to vent, to cry, to regroup and try again.

·         Honest apologies—when a discussion gets heated and “words flying faster than the brain thinks,” fess up, apologize and mean it.

·         Dump the anger—try to avoid bringing a past feeling of “ugly words or attitudes” into the next battle.

·         Communicate—keep the lines open, clear the air, begin again.

·         Express hurt feelings—my child hurts my feelings, pushes my buttons, etc. and vice versa. Share this, try to move on.

·         Listen—Emotional absence does not work with “real” listening. When trying to talk things out really listen.

·         Expect Better—discuss how issue can get better and take steps to make it that way.

After a bad event of escalated anger these are some steps we as a family take to try and get back on track. This is not from a councilor, this is from common sense. Let’s look at what some Godly, experienced Mom’s offer.

Susie Hawkins, is a Godly woman, a chic grandmother and “real”. I have always admired her. Years ago she shared this advice in my book, Mom Matters, hundreds of ideas for making a difference at Home. (Our daughter was four at the time, but I tucked it away for the teen years and
feel it is worth sharing.)

Susie has two grown daughters and five grandchildren, she is a speaker, bible teacher and highly respected all over the world. Her words are worth your time.

“ What is your goal for your relationship with your children? So much of our time and energy is spent during the child-rearing years in “mothering.” However, before you know it, your children are grown and on their own. What will your relationship be like when your daily mothering is not longer required? First of all, you are always a mother. Even though adult children make their own decisions, there are always times when they just need a mom. Yet the relationship does change..and it is wise to realize this during their growing up years and to prepare for it. If your goal is to develop a strong vibrant friendship (which is incredibly rewarding), then the suggestions below may help you. They also should encourage you as you relate to your own mother as a friend.

·         Respect. Look at your children with respect as a person. They may have different dreams, gifts, and different ways of expressing themselves. Give them some space to do so (within reasonable limitations) to be who they are. Look at them as future contributors to the world.

·        Mutual interests. Find mutual interests with your children. Activities that you both enjoy will give you great pleasure and be a special time that you both will share well into the future.

·         Kind gestures. Find something specific you can do for your children that would be especially meaningful to them, something out of the ordinary. Ask, “how can I pray for you this week?” or “Is there anything I can do for you today?” A little extra thoughtfulness goes a long way in improving relationships. 

In summary, we as Moms are human, as believers we are forgiven. If we can step back out of the season of smart mouths, heightened hormones, and stinky attitudes and look at this time as “God’s heavenly sand paper” sloughing off the rough spots on both mother and child. We might keep our sanity.

Consider this, “Children are like jell-o salads we want to pour as much good stuff into the mold before it sets up.” (author unknown) In the teen years the mold is beginning to set up, but it is still jiggly in the middle, there is still time to pour, stir and make a difference in the “flavor” of their lives.

{Mother, wife, accomplished speaker and author on hospitality and parenting, Jane Jarrell uses wit, charm, and stories from her own life to teach women practical ideas and creative solutions for life. Jane loves sharing simple solutions for families with a humorous approach to life.

A former emcee for Southern Living Magazines Cooking shows, Jane has also written fourteen books and co-authored over 20 others, whose topics range from managing mid-life mommy-hood to ways to introduce simple hospitality to your home. As the founder and president of High Heels & Home Life, Jane loves sharing simple solutions for families with a humorous approach to life. She is a sought after speaker at national and regional conferences and within organizations and corporations across Texas.

In addition to her time with Southern Living, she has also worked for Neiman Marcus in advertising, and currently works as a food stylist and special contributor to the Dallas Morning News. Jane and her husband, Mark, have two children, Sarah and Luke, and reside in Texas.  For more info, check out Jane’s website, janejarr

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