"Mom, do you think Adam was still alive when the flood came?"
Really? I thought, You're asking me this question now, at ten-thirty at night?
My bed was calling my name. After a long day, my weary body cried out for sleep. BUT, this was a rare moment, a personal invitation to connect with my busy, independent, preoccupied teenagers. So, I quickly answered, "Let's find out."
That night, before Google searches and smart phones, I grabbed a Bible. Then, my kids and I sat around the kitchen table, and counted the years of Adam's descendants through the time of Noah.
We talked and laughed and added numbers until well after midnight. According to our final count, we decided Adam may indeed have died just before the flood. I am not saying this is a fact. If you want to know, you can google it (or, better yet, look it up with your kids).
That night, reminded me of one of the biggest lessons I learned while raising my tweens and teens. Even though it did not seem like it, my kids needed me in their teens years, even more than when they were little!
My friend, Jessica over at Life as MOM wrote, "As my children grow older, I realize finally what my friend Cathy meant when she said my children would need me more, not less, as they approached the teen years. My three oldest children are currently 14, 11, and 9. While they are all potty-trained, feed themselves, and are independent about their personal care, they are growing more and more into their personalities and emotions. Nurturing is more emotional than it is physical at this point."
Jessica is right. Just about the time you've recovered from the physical exhaustion of sleepless nights, diapers, bottles, the terrible two's (or is it three's) and potty-training, and while you're enjoying the new freedoms of parenting school-age children, a revelation hits you: You are rapidly approaching the threshold of adolescence.
Be warned dear parent, in this season your emotions will be taxed! During these years, you will need to be available for the harder issues of life, like puberty, first love, a broken heart, a fight with a friend, not to mention curfews, the much anticipated driver's license, and peer pressure. Most the time, your kids may seem more interested in their friends than their family. They may act self-absorbed and ungrateful. But, they need and want to know you are there! Simply put, your presence is an (unexpressed) comfort to them.
The hard part is, your blossoming children want your attention on their time schedule. Be it morning, noon, or in the middle-of-the-night, they want you when they want you. And, more often than not, they want you at the most inconvenient times.
They are trying to figure out life, how to become independent and separate from you. Yet, at the same time, they derive security in knowing you will be there for them, just like when they were little. They may not even be aware of it, but they need to know that their home is a safe haven and a place of refuge; a place to run to where they will find parents who love and accept them, who will to listen to their heart, as well as to pray for and care about them.
Here are three tips I discovered to "be there" for your pre-teens and teens (and their friends):
1. Be Willing to Drop Everything - Turn off the television. Put away the phone. Power down the computer. Stop loading the dishwasher...
2. Give Them Your Undivided Attention - Let them know they are (still) a top priority. Sit down. Look in their eyes. Ask them questions. Listen beyond their words (to their hearts). Wait to hear (really hear) what they have to say. Enjoy your moments together.
3. Let Them Know You Are Interested, Involved and Invested
Whenever possible be in the bleachers for their sports event. Attend their music, drama or other extra curricular activities. Even if you're not "officially" invited by your child, go to their events, cheer for them, and show them that you care!
The night I stayed up "past my bedtime," to find out if Adam was still alive for the great flood, stands out to me as one of those rare times when my teenagers sought ME out. We had a great time just hanging out together, looking for the answer to an unusual question. I shudder to think how easily I could have missed this precious memory. I could have told them to look it up themselves and, headed to bed. I'm so glad I stayed up.
Dear reader, I would love to hear from you! Your tweens and teens need you, now more than ever! How have you been there for your kids? Or, what steps can you take to let them know you are there for them?