Moms, this one is for you! I have done numerous coaching sessions with the same theme. Moms are overwhelmed, exhausted, feeling a paralyzing heaviness, and like they have been pushed into a dark pit. Each time the Holy Spirit revealed the need to STOP functioning and doing so much and getting in touch with their heart. I don’t need to tell you all that is going on in the world, but if your response to all of the chaos, stress, and anxiety is to DO MORE and stay active to avoid your heart, you are going to find yourself in a dark pit of heaviness. Your heart matters because God wired it to feel and with the need to be heard. So may I encourage you to spend some time today putting your hand on your heart and asking, “Heart, how are you feeling today?” and just let it be heard. Sometimes you have to mother your own heart. God cares and wants to hear what is concerning you today.
Yes, there is a better way to parent our children than yelling but you do not need more of God so that you stop yelling. You need more of God so that He can comfort and heal those places in your heart so that you do not need to yell anymore.
Once you learn the incredible ways earthly relationships can impact or distort a child’s view of the godhead (God, Jesus, Holy Spirit), it changes the way, you parent. I am constantly looking for ways to reveal to them the reality of who God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit really are. There have been times when I have not modeled it well and have responded harshly or with impatience. When I go back to make it right, I will say, “Holy Spirit is never harsh or impatient with you, and I am sorry that I treated you that way.” One of the most helpful things you can say to a child going through a divorce is, “Do you know God will never leave you?” or to the child being bullied, “Jesus would never treat you like that.” Humans fall short, but God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit do not.
Teen girls have been fairly smooth sailing for me. When emotions are big, I feel confident in how to respond and help them. Teen boys, on the other hand, have refined me to my core. I love my son dearly, and connection with him is important to me, but I have been challenged to remain connected to him while he is finding his way. As a mom, I have full awareness that I cannot fully bring him into manhood and learning how to do this dance has been interesting. Parts of this season with him have made me feel so inadequate, weak, and even worried. Yet it has made me all the more dependent upon the Lord in a new and fresh way. I was crying out to God for strategy and help when He told me to tap into the incredible men around us who have more wisdom and knowledge than I do in this area. I was blown away by their insight and surprised by how similar their responses were. Men really do hold keys to a young man’s heart.
This is the text I sent to a handful of men: “Hello! I am asking a couple of men who I trust for some feedback. Hudson is 14 and clearly shifting seasons. I am sensitive to these changes and want to grow in supporting him and become all that God has for him, even if the male brain and wiring are not my norm. Would you be willing to give me insight on the following questions from your perspective as a dad but also from when you were his age? What is something he really NEEDS at this age/stage? What is one of the worst things a mother could do at this age? What could I do as his mom to affirm his need to pull away and become his own individual? Any additional thoughts? I sincerely value hearing and learning how best to parent him! Lisa.”
Here are their responses loaded with empowerment and rich wisdom:
- Taking risks that come with a belief he’s no longer a boy who needs protection (even if it looks completely immature or unnecessary to others). This can manifest by personal style or something as simple as going places without supervision. You might see a potentially bad outcome, but he might have to experience the process to understand where his limits are apart from what you wisely believe (regardless of the outcome). These can be reasonably compromised at times, but if he perceives that what you are always saying is “No, because I as your mother know better for you,” that can actually fuel his desire and become his concrete “I’m surely going to do this now.”
- I remember when I was his age. My mom was somewhat overprotective, but she (and my dad) had laid a good foundation for me. That foundation was a good inner compass for me. Hudson has a good inner compass. He won’t go off the rails. His desire is for good.
- When I was 14, I needed more independence. There were structured activities I found that in, like youth group. There were unstructured activities I chose to do too, hanging out with friends, running & mountain biking etc.
- Boys & men process differently to women. Sitting down and talking about feelings is not natural for us (mostly). It is a learned skill. We tend to process through action. Emotions at this age are at extremes. It’ll pass and normalize.
- Constructive projects were good for me. I worked for my aunt and uncle who owned land. I managed the land, fixed fences, drove tractors, repaired country roads, etc. Directed outdoor physical activity was healthy for me. Sports do the same thing – something physical with concrete results at the end.
- Sometimes I failed. I had a bad group of friends for a short season. My inner compass told me they weren’t good for me, so I eventually drifted away from them. Bad decisions and failure are part of growing up – it’s part of adult life too! But I needed the freedom to choose, to fall and to know that my family would always be there for me when I fell. But, like Proverbs says, I rose again. I rose wiser. Hudson has a good inner compass, he’s loyal; he’s motivated towards compassion. He won’t go far wrong.
- Shaming a boy for things that are out of his control as he navigates the insecurity of becoming a young man who truly thinks he knows what he’s doing. He might not feel embarrassed at all about something until you make it so for him because you are projecting.
- Express how deep your love is that you can choose to believe he will be alright because that is how amazing a person he is. He has the freedom to not be all right (and not worry that it would cause you greater worry if he’s not) because if that happens, you will be there unconditionally to love on him through that too.
- I am where I am today because someone called out the gold in me at a moment I nearly threw my future away at his age (and it’s only in hindsight I realized I would’ve thrown my future away). Pray that no matter where he goes, God will encounter him in somebody if he finds himself in a dark moment where a poor choice seems like the right one.
- Also, he views authority as an obstruction. Part of the discovery is learning how working apart from authority can get him to a far point, and then realizing how authority actually serves as a foundational tool through which he can go much further.
- Lisa, I would say the biggest need that I had at his age is validation. I needed to hear, “You have what it takes to be a man.”
- Celebrate who he is as a young man becoming a man. And how he is wired differently than the girls.
- I see you already know and are doing this “grace in the poor choices/failures.” One thing I do is ask what they learned from the poor choice/failure then I know as a dad they are learning, and it is then easier for me to extend grace.
- Boys really need a voice they admire to affirm their identity. A strong male they look up to who they know is for them and can speak into who they are. Girls seem to need many voices and relationships to feel “validated.” Boys just need one good one that isn’t their dad. Hudson will pick this person without realizing it. What you can do is be praying for this guy and then ask him to accept the responsibility when you figure out who it is.
- Boys Hudson’s age start wrestling with their dads because they need to know how they measure up. It’s partly to see where they fall in the pecking order and it’s partly to satisfy their need to conquer things. As you’re able, find things Hudson can conquer. Camping, building things, ax throwing, whatever. He just needs things he enjoys that he can find success in accomplishing. I think a lot of guys misuse this aspect of being a guy but it’s a God-given feature that guys have. We were designed to accomplish things and to derive satisfaction from overcoming obstacles. And equally important is learning our limitations. It may sound weird but getting your butt kicked teaches you that you can’t do everything. Boys that never learn that turn into tyrants and bullies.
- When I was 14 going into high school, I was very insecure and didn’t know how to feel. I needed a man to impart manhood to me and teach me/show me the process of how to feel. I needed a healthy mentor whom I could share anything with without judgment and could give me honest feedback. I needed questions asked of me as to what I wanted to build my life to be and taught how to be responsible and accountable for my life and given the opportunity to do so. I think it would take multiple fathers to provide these things (teachers, pastors, coaches, etc.). Also, I wish I was pushed to continue sports for the physical outlet and the comradery.
- I needed to be empowered to make decisions and own the outcome no matter what it was, and the worst thing a mother could do is to ignore/micromanage/enable me in that process.
- I think a good thing for a mom to do is to connect emotionally (probably accompanied with an activity of some kind because one-on-one can be difficult at that age). Connect emotionally would look like asking questions with no agenda (seek to understand) and ask how you can help get him where he wants to go. Challenge him to create goals and partner with his goals.
- I think a boy at this age needs to know what it takes to be a man. I think a big part of that is able to accomplish tasks and overcome challenges. Success probably feels like being able to “win,” but I think deeper it’s about being able to prove on the outside that there is actually a “winner” on the inside. If he is eventually meant to be a protector and provider, he needs to be confident in his ability to accomplish. Healthy challenges and help identify needs and navigate disappointments, keeping identity intact when he makes mistakes in stepping out.
- The worst thing a mom could do at this age is to stop comforting and affirming him. He still needs it, but you may need to do it differently. He’ll never stop needing to be fully seen.
- One way to keep connected as he is developing a sense of self-sustainability could be to invite him in to help solve or accomplish tasks that you have. Ask his advice for stuff, create a way for him to accomplish something for you. Let him know the things he has done to meet your emotional and practical needs.
- Do what you can to also have him around healthy men that he can observe and do things with and be affirmed by. Only a man can tell a boy that he’s a real man.
Mary and Joseph were the human vessels God worked THROUGH to accomplish HIS purpose and plan for HIS Kingdom! What if Joseph decided *HE* wanted Jesus to be a football player or a doctor? Just think of how the world would have missed what God was doing. God is smart. God is good and knows what He is doing with the world. He needs parents who will lay down their own agenda and partner with what He is doing SO THAT our children can do all that He has created them to do for His purpose and His plan. I encourage you to spend some quiet time before the Lord today and ask Him, “Father, will You please show me what YOU have put inside my child” or “Holy Spirit, will You please show me the destiny (purpose on earth) You have placed deep inside of them?”
Teen boys are awesome and so much fun. I love that Hudson is growing into a man of bold character. HOWEVER, he is still a minor in my home. Doing this dance of ‘almost-a-man-but-still-a-child’ and has, at times, lacked some humility. It has been a bit of a challenge to teach him how to be humble without stepping on his new muscle of manhood. Recently I was at my wit’s end with his constant gray-haired wisdom, hurting our connection. I asked Jesus for a creative way to get to his heart without squelching it and waited for the revelation. I was out driving with the girls when the revelation came (oh, parenting with Jesus is so much fun). I texted him and told him to come out when the girls returned. He jumped in the driver’s seat, expecting to talk, but I told him to start driving. He was okay on the side roads, and I instructed him to go ahead and turn left (onto an incredibly busy intersection with blind corners), make his way down by the grocery store, and go south on the highway. He began to tell me he wasn’t ready (which he wasn’t), and I assured him it would be okay if he listened to my voice. He lamented, and I encouraged him. Finally, he began to beg me not to make him do it because he knew, in his own estimate, he wasn’t ready for the highway. I looked him square in the eyes and said, “That, my son, is humility. That is what I need to see in some other areas. You are growing and maturing, but you are not all-knowing and ready to take on everything. With some things, you still need my help and instruction.” Now, whenever he gets ‘overly wise,’ I simply ask if he wants to drive on the highway, and he knows immediately that it is time to dial it down a bit. Jesus is so much fun!
I was raised in the Lutheran church but did not become a believer until I was 24. I loved God, Jesus, and His Word, but I wasn’t so sure about Holy Spirit. I disliked anything that reeked of being ‘charismatic’ and often made sharp remarks about it. It was not that I did not want the Spirit of God, but rather, I was afraid and unsure. I feared it might have been demonic in disguise. I had a mentor who embraced Holy Spirit, which made me uncomfortable. We would have conversations about it, but it usually ended with me telling her I was done. My mom went to a faith healer when she was diagnosed with reoccurring breast cancer and had an ‘encounter,’ as she said, but died two months later. That only increased my dislike and distaste for anything ‘charismatic.’
I am so thankful that God knows our hearts and understands our journey. I am even more grateful that He doesn’t keep us there. On occasion, I will get a message from a parent confessing their unbelief about things regarding Holy Spirit. They share their sincere heart and concerns with me. I listen, but I have learned over the years that they do not need, or really want, for ME to try and convince them one way or another. They need not another opinion but to hear directly from Him. My loving response to them is simply this – it is Holy Spirit’s job to lead you into all truth (not mine or any other pastor/leader/teacher). Mental knowledge is one thing, but the conviction of His truth is another. I encourage you to take what you are cautious and concerned about and bring it to Him directly. Ask Him to teach you and lead you to His truth. Teaching is not what He does; it is who He is (John 16:13).
Some of us come from very religious backgrounds and fear that if we constantly say, “Let’s ask Jesus,” it will push the child away from God, not towards Him. This is where the difference between a religious spirit and a relationship comes into play. When kids are thumped over the head with religion and Scriptures are being used as weapons of control, they resist. When kids talk to their earthly father, they are blessed because the interaction is alive and real and deposits goodies in their hearts. The same is true with Jesus: when they ask and HEAR Him replying, it builds a relationship. That is a good thing and is long-lasting.
Pray (out loud) – “Jesus, I thank You that (your child’s name) ’s spiritual ears are open and that he/she has the ability to hear their Father clearly today. Teach me, God, to be a good teacher of Your voice to the children You have entrusted me with. Give me creative ways to teach, model, practice, and usher my children into hearing Your voice. Thank You that You have good things to say to my children and that their lives change when they hear Your voice. Thank You that I am not an ill-equipped parent but that I get to partner with You in parenting. You knit them together and know more about them than I ever could. Thank You that I am not alone in this journey but can come to You anytime for answers and truth. Let my home be a home that stands on Your written and spoken Word, and let Your voice be the only voice that is acceptable. Help me lead my children to Your presence through living and tangible encounters with You. Thank You that You are in all things, and in all things, we can involve You.”
My son was invited to play airsoft guns with a friend’s husband. He was super excited and talked about it non-stop. Yet the morning of, he was really unkind to his sisters, wasn’t listening, or following through on things I had asked of him. It was a continued battle all morning. Finally, I told him he could not go. The moment I shut it down I heard God say, “Removing his heart’s desire is not the key to his heart.” I instantly took back my words and have pondered this a great deal since. It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance, not withholding, punishing, or communicating we have to be ‘good enough’ to have our desires met. The key to the testimony was discovering what was really going on and not just seeing his bad behavior. While my son’s choices that morning could have been from some form of rebellion in his heart, I believe it stemmed from his profound excitement to bond with an adult male over the activity that he loves the most. He lives with 3 girls and a mom 24/7 and has a natural longing/desire in his heart for male connection. He talked about it non-stop all week long. The morning of he was growing impatient for the big moment to arrive. He was like a child the night before Christmas. He is still a child and lacked the maturity to steward his impatience well. I am all for discipline, correction, and training, and yet there are times we care so much about righting their wrong and fail to see the bigger picture of their heart. The Kingdom of God does not ‘punish’ for age-appropriate immaturity. When I first said he couldn’t go his entire body sunk and it pierced his heart. If my goal was ‘punishment’ I did it. But the moment I said, “God just told me that I was wrong to take away your deep desire to go,” he broke down in tears. We talked about his excitement and impatience and how he behaved that morning. He was fully repentant and said he was sorry to his sisters and me.
Here is the glorious part – then I got to connect the dots for him that Father God sees his heart and wants to fulfill those desires. Do I REALLY want to shut my son down for not being able to control his utter excitement over getting this deepest desire fulfilled? That is where partnering with my son’s Creator is so key – we don’t always know what is going on in their hearts, but He does. There is a time to discipline, a time to say ‘no’ and there is a time to look deeper at the bigger picture!
I want you to consider this: if you are a born-again believer, you have access to two essential things.
First, you have the Holy Spirit inside of you. Teaching isn’t what He does; it is who He IS. His creativity is endless, and He always brings the right teaching tool at the right moment!
Second, you have a teacher’s anointing. It might not be for a classroom or with other children, but if you are a parent, you have God’s anointing, grace, and empowerment to teach your children.
Remembering and accessing these two realities will profit you greatly in your role as a parent!
“Dear Holy Spirit, thank You that as Sons and Daughters, we have You inside of us, and You are creative! Thank You that teaching isn’t what You do, but it is who You are. Thank You for placing inside of me the anointing to teach my children right-living with joy creatively. I break agreement with the spirit of fear – the fear of man and what others think of me and the fear of my children and their displeasure with me when I expect more of them. Fear is not my companion nor the tool I use in parenting. It is simply not welcome in our family. I break the agreement with perfectionism and performance-based parenting. I declare that I have the freedom to flow as the Spirit leads me with my children, and the only standard that I will hold myself to is what He has asked me to do. I break the agreement with the lie that ‘I am ruining my child if I am firm with them.’ I break the agreement with the lie that “It is my job to keep them comfortable.’ My God-given role is to teach, equip, and empower them so that they can go on to lead a successful and fruitful Kingdom-minded life. I break the agreement with excuses for my child, not walking in good character, and excuses that I have given myself for not going after this in our household. I declare that not only am I more than enough for my children, but I was hand-picked for the job to train them! God has entrusted me with much, and I will steward it well. Amen.”