Your Teenager Is Not Crazy – but they may trigger you something awful!

Your Teenager Is Not Crazy – but they may trigger you something awful!

I usually invite my guests to sit with me (figuratively) on that comfy orange couch in my living room, but today’s friend agreed to join me (literally) at a conference, and I was so blessed by her wisdom and fellowship I wanted to bring you into our conversation. Last week, Jerusha Clark and I shared a booth at The Great Homeschool Convention with my book, Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses rubbing shoulders with her most recent release, Your Teenager Is Not Crazy: Understanding Your Teen’s Brain Can Make You a Better Parent. What I learned, as we conversed with moms both separately and together, is that teenagers can be a trigger in their very own category! However, like every trigger that Amber Lia and I address in our book, the more you know about your triggers, the less likely you are to be triggered by them. Same is true for the teen who’s pushing boundaries, talking back, and looking for their growing sense of autonomy and independence there in your home. The more you understand their developing brain, the more grace and help you can offer them as they grow. Welcome, Jerusha!       The Biological Trigger Most Parents Don’t Even Know Exists… by Jerusha Clark   Ever heard of mirror neurons? Neither had I, until I started trying to understand the teenagers living in my house, that is.  Turns out, these tiny brain cells play a major role in parenting anyone from 11-25 years of age.  Yeah, they’re kind of a big deal. God created mirror neurons to help your kids (and you!) learn by...
Let’s talk backtalk

Let’s talk backtalk

When your children were young, you spoke words of life into their little beings. They cooed and you cooed back. You whispered blessings over them as they slept and told them “you are SO BIG” when they were so tiny. You had no intention of ever berating your babies. Even if you yourself were raised in a home full of heated arguments, explosive and loud, you never intended to pass that legacy down. And so you sang Scripture promises and memorized the golden rule. You were proactive in using tender words and shared the old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” And through it all you held great hope that your family would build each other up with lips dripping honey. But before long, the honey grew rancid, and began tasting more like vinegar on your tongue. Within only a few short years, your toddler proved defiant, difficult, and demanding—as is their job at two. And you grew angry.     Since the start of those “terrible twos,” a battle of words has raged between you and them; amongst siblings in backseats, and teenagers with backtalk. It started with simple “No, Mommy, no…” when changing diapers or serving peas, but before long, toddler lips pursed in negative words grew into loud yelling matches. And you’re plain worn out from the warring and the shame. You want to retreat, but their constant bantering sets you off faster than anything else. It’s your trigger —Kaboom! You bring out the big guns and end the skirmish with a few choice words, because your voice...
When will they ever change?

When will they ever change?

A few months ago Amber Lia and I released a book entitled Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses. To accompany the book’s launch I’ve been speaking at MOPS groups all over Southern California, and what I’ve found is that no matter what Trigger I focus on, we always come back to this main point…   The following is an except from chapter 15 of Triggers, “When will they ever change?”   Why do marriage and motherhood have to be so hard? When we got engaged, our eyes were fixed on happily ever after. Even though we vowed “in sickness and health,” the dream was health and happiness. Though we swore to love one another “for better or for worse,” we naively expected a whole lot more “better” than “worse.” The same is true when we wanted babies. Whether conceiving was as easy as your wedding night, or as difficult as a long barren season followed by a trip across the ocean to an orphanage, the idea was happiness and the completion of a dream. And the dream was good. But many women I know would describe their reality today more like a nightmare with unruly kids who simply won’t change. Long days with three children under the age of five, with nobody taking naps; complaining about what’s been served for dinner; throwing fits at home and having meltdowns in public; and their daddy works long hours and comes home late and tired, with very little left over to contribute emotionally. You do your best to be consistent when it comes to love and discipline, believing whole-heartedly that...
Sometimes a messy home makes a mess out of a mom

Sometimes a messy home makes a mess out of a mom

  “Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.” (Proverbs 14:4, NIV) Some of you married farmers. Most of us did not. Still, the imagery here is full of application for every mother in every messy home: You want a fruitful family? Then you’re going to have a messy house! You want your little people and their friends and neighborhood kids all dropping by? You want to host home group with your church friends? You want children who have the freedom to finger paint at an easel and play in backyard dirt? Then you’re going to have to deal with muddy shoes, sticky fingerprints, and careless spills. You can wrap your mind around that concept, can’t you? And yet, the reality feels overwhelming in your day-in and day-out lives as dishes and laundry pile up. Your husband is working out of town again this week, so the load falls squarely on your shoulders. You set a plan in place, how you’re going to get it done after you tuck your children in bed for the night. All eleven loads of laundry are piled in a wrinkled mound upon your bed, and you have vowed to get every last piece of it folded and put away before you hit the sack! Except the youngest keeps coming out crying about “scary thoughts,” and the oldest has leg cramps, and your husband texts, asking you to send him the phone number he scribbled on a scrap of paper three weeks ago that he’s sure is on the back, right-hand corner of his desk. So...
Remember what you love about your husband

Remember what you love about your husband

“Lift with your legs, not with your back!” I hollered to my husband as he drove off down the rode, the truck loaded with our three sons and a mountain of work tools. He gave a wave from the open window, as the sound of boyish laughter added a living harmony to the melody of U2 pumping out of speakers. “Good thing we don’t have neighbors close by,” I thought as they rambled away noisily. The early morning air stung my nostrils causing my eyes to prick with tears.     My husband is a hard worker. He sees a need and gets it done. Whether the need is chopping down a tree, fixing sprinkler heads, cleaning out the rain gutters of an elderly woman down the road, or heading out the door for an extended business trip, he’s always going – always working. During the years with multiple babies in diapers this was difficult on me. For some reason, needs like baby baths, dishes, and tuck-ins didn’t register as his job, and no matter how I tried to ask for help, he was out the door sweating in the sun or loading up his truck with an overnight bag for another business trip. These were the days I felt abandoned and abused. Like a victim. Left alone to care for his children. Our roles have always been clearly defined. Though it’s all rather June Cleaver in a pencil skirt, it actually worked for us… that is until I was outnumbered by three strong-willed children, whose muscular tendencies took after their father. And I felt like the world was against me, my world was...
Parenting Script: When Brothers Fight

Parenting Script: When Brothers Fight

The last few weeks have been intense around our home. Ironically, (or not so much) as soon as I committed to writing a brand new parenting series with my sweet friend (and co-author of Triggers) Amber Lia , I started feeling like an absolute parenting disaster. Needless to say, I’ve been waiting to pen my first chapter. Waiting to ARRIVE! Waiting to have it all figured. Waiting until my boys’ behavior is suddenly better, if not brilliant! Then, and only then, could I share from my storehouse of perfect parenting tips. But that’s not realistic, friends. So much of what Amber and I unearth is mined from the hard earth reality of raising real little people, on ornery and ordinary days. As Amber often reminds us, “It takes a childhood to raise a child.” Obviously I’m not done yet. And so, it is from that “…still training them up in the way they should go” place that I bring you today’s Parenting Script: “When Brothers Fight.”     Our home has lacked peace in recent days. It seems not 30 seconds pass without injustice or insult flying between brothers. Yes, if you were wondering, it IS exhausting. However, it’s not just exhausting for me, I can see on their faces that my boys are worn out from it too. They’re caught in a negative pattern together, tearing eachother down. Last night at the dinner table in a rare moment of calm, we had a “Come to Jesus Meeting.” Here’s what I shared with them. “Boys, I want your eyes on me, because I’m going to tell you something that could change your...