I love people and love being with people. As the years go by, however, I find that I need more and more solitude. My morning quiet time is a coveted, treasured time of getting ready for the day. When my teenagers were toddlers, it was quite the feat teaching them not to come downstairs while Mom was reading her Bible. Eventually, they learned. These days, however, it’s a different story. I can’t get up early enough to have a quiet time alone. School starts at 7:15. The bus arrives at 6:30. Our home is a madhouse of teenagers getting ready from 5:15 until they walk out the door.
Enter a frayed and hungry soul, desperate to connect with her Maker. So I defaulted to the tried-and-true … getting-up-earlier … so I could have some serious alone time … before the household got too busy … method. Didn’t work. Daughter #1 came downstairs a few minutes later to make her oatmeal in the microwave. Once it was ready, she brought her bowl to the couch next to me and plopped down—mouth running a mile-a-minute with details of her upcoming day. Quiet time was not happening at this moment. At first, I was frustrated—just like I used to be when they were little and came barging into my quietness. But then I closed my book and stared into her eyes–glistening with excitement as she shared her world with me. Which doesn’t happen very often! I decided to trade treasures.
What causes frustration with my teens?
Living with teenagers means frustration is prevalent—for them, for my husband, and for me. Lots of things cause it.
- When they leave their stuff scattered around the house
- When they persistently negotiate the no
- When they want to be with their friends instead of our family–again!
- When they invade my personal time–either by interrupting my quiet time or by expecting me to bend my schedule to theirs
Instead of being frustrated, God is showing me that in order to treasure my teenagers, I need to recognize a few things.
Recognizing these 3 things helps me overcome frustration
#1. I Have Them
I crave order–and a semblance of control. Honestly, it’s hard to treasure the fact that my kitchen table and the surrounding floor are covered with backpacks, shoes, paintbrushes, hairbrushes (ugh!), school IDs, letter jackets, wallets, keys, guitar picks.
You name it. It’s usually there. I’m constantly reminding my teens to … pick.it.ALL.up.
But you know what? Because I remind them, I have them. They are alive and healthy and relatively happy. I have friends who grieve the loss of these “frustrations.” The fact that they exist is a blessing.
I won’t lie and say we don’t have challenging times in our home. Sometimes one teen will make some really rotten choices. As a result, we have to give some really tough love. It’s hard having a treasuring mindset then. But I remember …. This one is alive and healthy– with a little more growing to do.
#2. Their Determination Will Help Them Succeed
Teenagers are defined by their desire to do things the way they want to do them. When it doesn’t match up with Mom and Dad’s directive, negotiation is the name of the game. A simple no never suffices.
- What if I do this?
- You won’t have to do anything!
- I promise …
I have strong-willed kids who push hard in this area. It’s easy to get frustrated and respond with, BECAUSE I SAID SO! Sometimes that’s the way it needs to be. Period. But this desire to push and negotiate is also self-confidence and determination that will serve them well in their futures.
These may seem like pat-answers. Simple responses. But then I realized …
I won’t have them for much longer!
That is a game changer!
#3. Time With Them Is A Treasure–Regardless How You Get it
When they interrupt my morning quiet time, I’m viewing it like this:
Their time at home each day is limited. They arrive at school very early. Most days they stay late. When they are home, they have lots of homework and projects due. Then they want to spend time with their friends.
Time is in scarce supply. Not too long from now—it will be gone altogether!
Yes, it interrupts some time I set aside for my relationship with God. But these interruptions are part of God’s plan for my day. If He allows it, I need to receive it. God doesn’t just allow it–He gifts it!God doesn't just allow interruptions. They are His gifts.
Even driving them to and from their activities is a treasure–because it’s time with them in the car. In less than a month, I will be releasing that treasure. One of my girls will have her drivers license. In some ways, it’s a welcome relief. In other ways, I sense deep loss. In reality–it means she is maturing and becoming the young woman we want her to be.
The Bottom Line
God uses frustration as sandpaper to smooth off our rough edges, allowing us to love our teenagers much better. Changing our perspective also helps.
I love the Scripture in Luke 2 that shows how Mary handled a chaotic time in her life. She and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem while she was late in her pregnancy. She gave birth to Jesus in a stable. Of all things, shepherds and kings came to visit.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19).
Mary treasured everything … all of these precious moments. It’s a lesson for all moms. It doesn’t matter the season.
Motherhood is always busy and exhausting. If we aren’t exhausted from the physical demands of infancy and early childhood, we’re exhausted by the emotional demands of developing teenagers.
Sometimes all we want is a little time to ourselves–but God gives us something else. When we recognize that something else as treasure–it totally changes our perspective. Then we can do as Paul said,
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
So often I want to hang on instead of release, which causes some of the frustration. When I can be thankful in the midst of it, I can better treasure my teenagers.
Image: Teenage girls — Pixabay (Unsplash)