We’ve had a teenager in the house for three plus years now; and even though Ez turned thirteen just this past Fall, he had all the mannerisms of a teen at the age of twelve. So, we’ve felt as though life with teens has been just a natural part of our world for a few years now, and I thought I’d share a bit about just how much fun we are having raising teens.

My sweet sister-in-law was the first of us girls to have a baby, and therefore she lived through the teen years before any of us. Her comments on life with a teen were always so positive and encouraging, and even now I look back at her as the one who paved the way for the rest of us; reminding us that these years can and should be really great! And now that we are fully in the beginning stages I couldn’t agree more.

For me, these years that the kids are growing, changing, and becoming his/her own unique individual are ones that I remember going through myself.  An important piece to parenting during the middle and high school aged years is realizing that for myself, these were some very formative years. Recognizing that I went through some very similar emotions and behaviors is imperative for me in how I relate to them and some of their ways of thinking. I remember dreaming, and doodling, and dancing in my room with my ghetto blaster on, and (rotary!) phone calls with friends, and hanging out after church nights, or football games. There were crushes, and good conversations, and time to just be with others in my life. Of course the times have changed so much with the digital age that we live in… Snapchat, and Instagram, and Facebook, and texting… and most can be done in the comfort of one’s own home and not necessarily needing to be present with people. That is what I don’t quite know how to relate to, from a teen perspective, but I can certainly try my hardest. I mean how cool would some of these mediums have been when we were younger?!

Andy and I have chosen to approach parenting with this in mind… we are raising adults. Even at a young age, we try to teach them independence and self-care, and with each year we expect more and more from them in return.  I love that our kids can cook a meal, and clean up, do laundry, yard work, house maintenance, change diapers, understand the value of a dollar, and are well-educated.  However, one of the most valuable attributes of our children is how they interact with, and love others. Over the years, we have had amazing friends and people in our lives and in our home.  These people, more times than I can count, have become family to us, and our children.  It has been so wonderful for friendships like this when our immediate family are on the other side of the country. Our kids have loved, cared about and opened up to these individuals in the most beautiful ways.  From early ages, they have spent so much time around adults, learned how to communicate, to be patient, to have a good attitude, and to have a great sense of humor;  but mostly, how to love well.

As I watch our teenagers interact with older kids, and their authorities I love that they have a genuine respect for them as individuals. They are kind, and think of the needs of those they are with.  They know how to have fun, to play games, explore outdoors, and how to sit and talk for hours in a room with their friends, no television, just kids in a room talking.  (Who does that anymore?!) Zoe and Ezra help me around the house, offer to teach and watch over Ottie, and have lately been helping me with catering events (which is my very favorite!). They are just pure enjoyment to be with every single day, so much so that we miss them greatly just when they go to friends’ homes to hangout or sleepover. These teenage years are going to go by just as quickly as the toddler and elementary years did for us. In just a few short years we will have another adult in our family, and frankly that just breaks my heart to think that is coming so soon. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that parenting phase will be even better than I can imagine, with its most wonderful qualities, but for now and today, I am choosing to cherish each little moment with these crazy, awesome teenagers.

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