Monday, May 14, 2012

Enjoying Young Adults in the House Rather Than "Teenagers"

I love having young women in the house! My oldest girls are 16, 15 and 13 and let me tell you they are a joy to have around. We have been missing them the last week and a half as they have been vacationing in Florida with my parents. Thinking about them while they are gone has made me realize just how wonderful they are and how enjoyable these teen years can be for a family.

{Bon Bon, age 16}

When my older girls were the little girls we often received comments like "You have five girls? Good luck with that when they get to be teenagers!" And now when we go shopping in town {with all the kids} we get "You have three teenage girls! How do you survive?" I'm so glad we were wished all the luck. It worked. We survive because we don't believe in 'teenagers' as most westernized people do.

Marie 02
{Semisweet, age 15}

Good read-a-loud books are priceless. It was while reading books to my older children when they were little that I realized pre-1940 "teenagers" didn't exist. There were children and adults, with those in in the "teen" years being considered young adults.

{Brownie, age 13}

It struck me that the dreaded teen years were a rather new phenomenon. And mostly of our own making. Did you know that the first documented use of the word teenager is in a 1941 Reader's Digest? This realization helped Mr. Ferrero Rocher and I adjust our parenting so instead of dreading "the teen years" we looked forward to having young adults in the house. And by golly, it has worked! {so far}

What do we want our children to be? We want them to be well rounded adults who care for others, are selfless, know the skills to take care of themselves and their own families, who contribute to society, who are deeply religious and have a faith in God that will carry them through the rough times they will inevitably have in their lives. We have parented with that end in mind.

What have we done?
  • We never talked about "the teen years" with dread or angst. Instead we have spoken about the increased opportunities to learn and grow and serve and the freedoms and responsibilities that go with that.
  • 365_205
    {Cleaning and cooking are more fun with a cute apron. Dressing up as a 1950's housewife helps too!}
  • We've taught them skills as children that they are honing now as young adults. One example is cooking. Before the age of ten they help out in the kitchen learning how to cook, read recipes, plan meals, etc. By the time my children are twelve they are in charge of menu planning, grocery shopping, and cooking for the whole week. That's 21 meals! And they are good at it. The weeks are rotated and spread out enough that they look forward to their week of cooking. The same will be expected of my sons when they reach that age.
  • As they have grown we have increased their responsibilities at home and on the farm. These aren't "little" responsibilities with no value but rather ones they know really contribute to our family's well-being. See above for an example.
  • Let them make their own decisions. One example - what to do for high school. We explored together all the options available to them including public school. We discussed pros and cons, making charts that eerily brought back memories of my parents doing the same with me. And then we let them decide what they wanted to do. It was their schooling, their future.
  • They have learned to respect and trust us and our judgements as their parents. Conversely we have learned to trust them and theirs especially as they have shown good judgement in the past. These two - making decisions and trust - build on each other.
  • Increased their circle of friends to include not only peers their age but adults and children too. A quick scan of Bon Bon's facebook friends shows an almost even split between peers her age and adults. I know every single one of them and they are such good people, mentors really, to her. When you think about pre-1940, those in the teen years were either working alongside adults {think family farm} or apprenticed to adults to learn special work skills. After 1940 most teens where grouped together according to age to learn from one another rather than from those more experienced. This grouping actually happened before that, around 1900 but after 1940 showed the biggest change. The circle of people who influenced teens for good decreased.
  • 365_218
    {Recreating a photo from 12 years ago}
  • Humor. A good does of humor goes a long way in diffusing tense situations. Laughter IS good medicine. Knowing when to laugh at our mistakes helps us realize that 1) we will make mistakes 2) it's okay to acknowledge them because 3) we learn from them and move on. Having a good sense of humor also makes you easy and enjoyable to be around.
  • Siblings will always be your best friends. :)
One more  suggestion geared directly to those raising daughters. I often get asked about dealing with "hormonal" teenage girls. How do we survive with three in the house? For most of my married life I have either been pregnant or nursing. I don't menstruate while nursing. My daughters have never seen me act "hormonal" or cranky due to PMS. As they have hit puberty they didn't know it was an "option" or an "excuse" women use to act cranky/crazy/emotional etc.

helpful daughter
{Bon Bon comforting a crying Hershey}

Knowledge is power. They do know there is an increase of hormones and these will effect how they feel. They also realize they have the power to choose how to let those emotions show. Instead of snapping at a sibling they take their aggression out on the piano. A chick flick is watched so there's an outlet for crying. And they always know if they just need to talk they can come to me or their dad. Honestly, if you came and spent a month or two at my house you wouldn't be able to tell who was having a period or when. I asked Mr. Ferrero Rocher last night if he could tell and he said, "Nope, not at all." 

I realize right now we just have young women in our home. Our approach might change a little with our sons, but I don't think it will that much. My friend, WaterWorks, has written a great post about the young men in their house. Stop by there for a visit and see if anything she has written can help you!

How have you found the teen years to be in your house? What have you learned that could help others? Share in the comments!

Cocoa Signature with Candy 2 © 2007-2012 Chocolate on my Cranium, LLC all rights reserved
Categories: ,


Post a Comment