her daddy bought her those earrings on a trip to china. he went into her favorite store, h&m, and picked out some jewelry that he thought she would like. and when i saw those earrings i had NO idea what she would wear them with.
and then she paired them with this pale pink dress. i would never have put them with that dress.
but it worked. it looked fabulous. how did she know? because she is millie.
there are days that she amazes me. and there have been just a few days that she makes me crazy. and sometimes it is amazing how crazy a teenage daughter can make a relatively sane mother. so imagine how crazy she makes me since i am nowhere close to relatively sane.
but mostly she is just amazing.
and just in case you have a teenager who makes you crazy, i have just one little tip that has been really helping me this summer. just a short little thing that i keep repeating in my head when i am having one of those “crazy” moments of conversation with a teenager. and if you have a teenager (even an almost perfect one like mine) you KNOW those moments...
i just keep thinking to myself these words,
“i can try to PROVE or i can IMPROVE”.
i can try to PROVE to her that i am right in those moments. that is when my desire to BE RIGHT for her to SEE IT MY WAY overcomes all other desires. i can talk and talk and get more and more emotional and more and more entrenched in my need to hear her say, “oh, mother you are a genius and you are so right and from now on i will defer to your wisdom in all things”. yeah, like that is going to happen.
OR i can work to IMPROVE our relationship. by LISTENING. by LOVING. by LOOSENING my tight grip of control. and by LETTING God do the convincing. but most of all by me LIVING out the wisdom and truth in my own life and just praying that she is watching (the good stuff and ignoring the bad stuff that she sees from me every day). but most of all praying daily, hourly, minute by minute that she falls in LOVE... with Jesus.
the real deal is that if i PROVE my incredible insight and wisdom and rightness without IMPROVING then i haven’t proved anything. no one listens to someone that they don’t think cares about them. but if i IMPROVE the relationship, if she feels accepted and loved, then i can influence her. we are only influenced by those who accept us.
like any worthwhile parenting advice, it is only the Wisdom of the Most Wise Parent that actually works (over the long haul)... over the short term we can manipulate behavior change. but we aren’t after surface behavior change. that never lasts. which is why i have always loved (and keep rereading) this book and others written by turansky and millier... they give Biblical parenting advice, not legalistic, but life-changing. and heart changing.
so basically i am trying to relate to my kids in the same way that Jesus relates to us... He PROVED His love by first doing what needed to be done to open the lines of communication. we love because He FIRST loved us (1 john 4:19). His kindness leads us to repentance (romans 2:4)
But God demonstrates (or PROVES) his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
He PROVES before He attempts to improve. He knows that eternal improvement will only come once we believe that He loves us. once motivated by love, then we truly obey from a place that is real, lasting, and lovely. He could have easily PROVED He was right by killing us at any moment that He wanted to. but in His mercy and love He doesn’t do that. He proves His love instead. with a death. not the death of us. but His own death. He conquers with an incomprehensible love. not what we deserve. not what we expected. so much more.
i prove my love by first releasing the need to prove how wise and powerful and right i am (even on those rare occasions when i happen to actually be wise, powerful, and right). i prove my love by listening to her and being the mother that she needs (maybe not the one she wants all of the time). and our relationship improves. bit by bit. conversation by conversation. tiny increments of growth instead of brick walls being built up.
this is how God loves. this is how God proves. this is how He improves.
and so i can do it no other way.
and this has been your “moment in parenting teenagers” for today. and for this week. and for this month. because really i don’t know very many things. feel free to add any wisdom that you have. i get the feeling that i will need lots more things to keep repeating in my head in the next few years.