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We talk to the teenagers – and 5 year old – in our family by playing a nightly game that we’ve begun calling the “love game”. We have dinner every night together, and each person has to tell everyone one thing she loves about her. Then she has to finish w/something she loves about herself. We’ve found that in a house full of five women, this “game”/exercise makes us pause, think, and be generous to each other. The teenagers are more patient as a result and know that whatever happens, we love them – and they have countless examples!
Thank you all for your participation and great ideas!
I am starting to feel like an expert on teenagers. I know—premature. In my past life, I was a nanny for a number of years, so thought I was an expert on babies and toddlers. Each of my children proved me wrong in a different way. I expect the same from them as teenagers.
We have racked up some experience with teens in this house though. Two of our children in their 20s, the 19 year old has lived on her own for a year and we have a 15 year old and 13 year old at home, as well as the “I am a teen that just happens to be only nearly 11.”
We still talk to the 19 year old nearly daily on the phone. Sometimes she will call in the wee hours of the night just because she knows we will listen. We made it a rule long before they needed it that the children can call for a ride or call to talk at any time. “We love you. Be careful. Have fun. Call if you need us.” Call they did and still do.
The 23 year old tends to text more than call, not as often as he did when we lived close by and he could just pop in to do laundry. The 26 year old we keep up with via Facebook, Loopt and text messages.
The younger three children still are subject to what I call the “mommy trap.” You see, none of them drive. None of the older kids drove until they were 18-ish. I doubt the younger ones will either. This means talking time. Sometimes this talk time can make us all want to pull our hair out. Three kids, 2 adults, in a small car—picture it. Wait. Picture it with my special breed of children—loud, opinionated, and bouncy. You have it-mayhem. Then again, sometimes that plays off well and you learn more than you would if you had a solitary child.
Then, I tend to take a point in time where each child gets car time alone with mommy. Mommy and Me time we still call it. A teenager-sitting shotgun in the car with just mom, the radio on, and many times the floodgates open. No eye-to-eye contact needed. A question or two or babble about my own day gets them talking. If car time is not in the cards, then I call the teen to help in the kitchen. Again, each of us focused on our own task and chatting about our lives. Mommy and me time-completely and utterly important when you live in a busy household and have siblings.
Yes, we have electronic forms of communication. The children have had email for years. This mostly has consisted of the youngest child sending email forwards, the thirteen-year-old and 19 yo sending papers to proofread or print, the 15 year old sends the occasional video or funny link.
With the older children, I often sent them an email when I could tell things were rough, but they weren’t ready for mommy talk about it. I whispered the words electronically so they would hear. “I know life feels bad right now. I know you don’t want to talk about it yet. Know this though, you are important to me and do matter. I love you, even on those days when you don’t love yourself or don’t think anyone else could or does love the real you.” I do the same sometimes with the younger ones. Not as much yet, but I suspect one or two of them need those whispers in the years to come.
Their father just got each of the younger children phones with texting capabilities. They love being able to text us, even the phone shy 15 year old.
The 15 year old and 13 year old both have their own blogs now. They allow us to read them for now. That may change and we will respect that privacy as we did with the older children. In the meantime, it gives us a peek into their teen lives. What captures their attention? What did they get out of a family experience? The blogs give us that peek and sometimes more, much, much more.
In our house, listening and not blushing too hard helps keep the lines of communication open.
Now, here is the excellent part about this post-you can win a $200 Visa gift card from BlogHer!
To enter, leave me a comment below and tell me about how you keep the lines of communication open with your teens- or you may leave a link to your post on your own blog in the comments below. The contest will begin at 9:00 a.m. (PST) August 10, 2009 and will end 5:00 p.m. (PST) September 4, 2009. Make sure that the e-mail address you leave is correct.
- No duplicate comments.
- You may receive an additional entry by linking on twitter and leaving a link in the comments.
- You may receive an additional entry by blogging about this contest and leaving a link in the comments.
- This giveaway is open to US-residents, 18 and over
- Winners will be selected via random draw, and will notified by e-mail.
- You have 48 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
- Please see the official rules here: Official Rules
Find more info for keeping in touch with your kids here.