Sunday, September 27, 2009

What Is Easier....Toddlers or Teens?

I have found for me that raising little ones is easier than older ones. Not sure yet if that will change as we move on through these teenage years and into adulthood. I know I didn't think raising little ones was easy when I started. But over the years we have found our groove, gleaned lots of information through others, books, and mentors (most never knew they were mentoring me as I watched from a distance). And of course walking through the childhood with 8 different children you learn LOTS.

I do believe as we are now facing our 4th teenager we do see some common things. So it will be interesting to see if we begin to feel like we know what we are doing with this age. You know when you have a newborn for the first time how you totally get stressed out over the crying. What is WRONG with this little one that can't say a word! It is hard to just let them cry and know it will be alright. OH how it gets on your nerves! Now that we have had several infants in our home it is amazing how the crying of a new born doesn't affect us the same way. We smile and know this will pass. (a calmness instead of anxiety) I wonder if that accounts for how easy Brady is? Maybe calmer parents have helped bring about peace at an earlier age. Poor Hannah....we have had to practice on her for everything!

After our first hit the teenage years, I was quite sure we had screwed her up in our parenting. (Of course, she is the strong-willed one.) When the compliant one hit the teenage years and was doing some of the same things our first thought was "great we have now screwed up child #2"! The then thought began to creep in after talking to other parents of teens that we might be seeing a glimpse of the special gifts of teenagers. This could be normal behavior. When the calm spirited 3rd child entered teen years and exhibited same issues and we were around lots of teens, talking with many parents, devouring tons of books we have decided that this is JUST who teens were made to be. That doesn't mean we stop parenting because teens will be teens. It means we need to be more engaged (more on that later)! I always heard moms of teens say "just wait it will get busier"! I just snickered and thought they have just forgotten how active toddlers are!!!!! Now that I am a parent of several teens and toddlers I realize they were quite right!

What is the difference?

Little ones are PHYSICALLY demanding!

Teens are EMOTIONALLY demanding!
Teens keep your emotions engaged ALL day long! At least with toddlers there is a moment of relief that comes at naps, bedtime and the fact that you are bigger! Teens, well, lets just say it is very hard to put your emotions to bed, timeout, or naps! And the emotions can be bigger than you at times! God made them so unique. Have we really learned to appreciate their design? Seriously! Have you ever sat in a room with teens?

They are passionate! Passionate about everything! Their enthusiasm is AMAZING! Well, amazing when it is going in a right direction. Quite another feeling when they are going off a wrong path!
Barry and I are beginning to see this stage of life as training them how to keep their enthusiasm/ emotions (because they have A LOT of them) in balance. Not to squelch how God made them, but to make sure they are moving with His heart! Another stage of life we are finding we need to be on our knees! At least with little ones when you state something they believe you and you can think faster than they can respond. With teens when you state something THEY WILL question it, push against it, and they can often respond quicker than I can blink! What am I learning? Just like the infant needs a calm mother. I believe my teens need parents who will NOT get anxious in the middle of raising them. (Much easier said than done!) I am SLOWLY realizing that when I can react calmer the issues do not take on the same passion they did with our first child. I think we are seeing more relaxed teens and parents! Knowing who we are in Christ brings a certain amount of grace into the home!

What do you find to be the most difficult thing about toddlers or teens?

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