If you ask my teens how I am at releasing, they’d be quick to tell you it’s not my forte.  The youngest three teens in the house are 16, and still I remind them to wear jackets in 35 degree weather, eat protein every meal,  turn off the xbox at 10:30 and take Emergen-C when they have colds. I make them finish school before facebook, ‘force’ them to hang out in the living room with us for an hour during story time in the evening, and don’t allow phone use after 10PM.

SO there’s that.  But here’s some of what I have released. They’ve been allowed to have jobs and cars two years sooner than any of our others, which means some of them missed most of our family camping trips this summer. They are free to take a class or two at the local community college each semester during high school. They drink coffee quite routinely.  And awhile back I finally relented and let them read Harry Potter and the Hunger Games.

I am a person who appreciates nice-looking stylish clothing, but these days I bite my tongue while kids wear huge ratty sweatshirts and tired batman t-shirts over and over and over, when in closets reside heaps of nice stylish clothes. I let them wear jeans to church (unheard of during the growing-up years of our now-grown kids).  Some of them wear shorts all year unless it’s snowing.  At least one kid goes around long-haired most of the year, and on this particular day four of my kids are walking around with ball-point pen’ tattoos’ on their arms.

And yet, when a new friend the other day asked me if my teens were ‘running amok’, I quickly and laughingly said no.  Overall, they’re good kids.

I’ve released my own wishes in other harder areas tho.  I sometimes (at least temporarily) allow disrespect from teens to a degree that was unheard of from our now-adult kids.  It pains me, but with this particular batch of teens, the needs are different, and the responses to correction are vastly different.  I’ve found that with them correction is much more effective when gently stated awhile after the fact, instead of rushing in to offer a consequence when we’re both upset.  Come to think of it, that’d probably have worked better with my big kids too, but they somehow responded okay to the younger-momma ham-handed me, the girl I can still sometimes be.

I’m like any mom, playing it by ear– giving this tremendously hard job my very best, most prayer-filled, most on-my-knees guess.  But I am realizing more and more that even within the limits of God-honoring parenting, there is tremendous latitude.  There’s not just one proscribed, perfect way to respond.  God is the one who made all my kids different, with different needs.  And in this particular phase of life, it seems that God is teaching me that sometimes the most effective path is to release some of my ideas about what is right for our family, and to value my people more highly than I do my own longings and desires.

Oh, this growing-up is painful stuff.  Maybe by the time my kids are all grown up, I will be too.


  1. What a fantastic post! Thank You for sharing so honestly!
    I am sure they are not running amok because of the first, and probably also the second paragraph. Enforcing such rules also gives them security and like my 10year old said “makes me feel like you care”. You are doing a top job!

  2. I can relate so much to this. Thank you for putting it into words. Thank you for showing me that it’s not just my kid with pen tattoos!

  3. Thank you for these words.

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  5. My oldest just turned 14, with his next-younger brother turning 13 in spring. We are just beginning all of the push-pull for freedom and responsibility. Thanks for writing about your experiences — I appreciate your thoughtful mothering.

  6. Thanks. I needed that post, especially since I my oldest has just turned 13. The control freak that I am wants to hang on and push for my way, but I know I will lose in the end. I am so thankful for moms like you who are traveling the road ahead of me and honest enough to share about your journey, including the bumps in the road.

  7. “Maybe by the time my kids are all grown up I will be too.” I hope that is true of me as well.

  8. I appreciate your experience and wondered if you had any words of wisdom for me. My adopted kiddo – 10 yrs old, has some crazy making behavior. I wrote a post about it and my story is too long to put here, but I wondered if you would read the post at my blog when you have a moment and tell me what you would do in this situation. Everything I have done makes no difference at all. I’m struggling to even want to be around her because it is constant. There is absolutely no peace around her ever.

  9. Thanks. I needed this reminder. 🙂