Thursday, April 11, 2019

#parentingtruth No. 13 - puberty

parenting truths, puberty, teenagers, family relationships, love

Today's #parentingtruth is one that no one wants to talk about but everyone wants to know the answers for... you guessed it - how to handle puberty!

There are some simple things to remember when your child hits that dread age... usually sometime between 11 and 13. First off - you are not alone. Your friends are going through something similar with their kids, and they are probably just as confused, so hug each other often, pray for one another, and offer to take all the crazy kids to the park sometime soon.

Here's a key point to remember about your kids when they hit puberty, err, I mean when puberty hits them: everything around them and everything inside of them is changing and you as their parents need to stay the same! Mom still needs to be mom, Dad still needs to be dad, and you both need to pause before you answer any question and make sure you understand what your kid is asking of you. At this age they develop an uncanny sense of knowing when you are trying to multi-task and they will call you out on it. They need you - 110% of you - and you need to make sure you are available and listening. And regardless of what they say, they still need your physical presence right now - so go ahead and hug them every day. They might make a face, but they will appreciate it.

Puberty wrecks their brains. There is no nice way to say this, it just turns them into mush-heads. Girls who loved math now cry "I hate math." Boys who used to like legos now say "Um, no thanks, that's not cool." Do they really mean it? Probably not, but they are so confused by everything that is changing that they need a (figurative) hill to die on, so it is probably going to be math for girls and writing for boys. Why these subjects? I have no idea, but I've seen it often enough in our own daughters and with children of our friends that it just plays out that way. Whatever subject they used to love and now reject, don't let it throw you for a curve. Just try to think back to how crazy it was when YOU hit puberty and offer them some more grace - and some scheduling/ homework help!

Deal with the root issues. Lack of sleep, lack of compassion, defiance, these might all be outward signs that your child is struggling with something on the inside related to puberty. If they are not already taking a good multivitamin, now is the time to start them on one. Yes, you'll have to remind them - every single day - to take it, just do it. For your girls that were happy smiley 10 year olds who now turn into the Wicked Witch of the West at the drop of a hat - consider a strong dose of B Complex every day. At one point when both of our girls were dealing with the hormonal changes that puberty brings, they would harp on each other if they didn't take their vitamins: "you're a grouch, go take your B complex!" For either boys or girls who have trouble sleeping, you might want to look into a quality magnesium supplement paired with calcium. If all else fails, make an appointment for your child with your Doctor or Nurse Practitioner. Discuss options related to changed in diet and supplements, but don't automatically rule out other options. Some pre-teens are going to get hit really hard and may need some extra help to balance out their chemical makeup and stave off depression.

Be THAT parent. Yes, that parent that says "No" sometimes. Your children, whether they be tweens, teens, or somewhere in the middle are going to need you to make those hard choices for them. At the age when puberty hits them the hardest there are going to be so many new choices thrown at them: drama club, swim team, book club, band or choir, spring sports? So many choices, and regardless of what you may have read on the internet - they cannot do them all! Also be THAT parent who makes home a safe place for everyone. Be the parent that invites all the other half-crazy 11-13 year olds over to hang out. This is a crucial time to keep tying heartstrings with your children, and with their friends. (See #parentingtruth No. 12!) Your children's friendships are going to be constantly evolving and changing at this time in their lives. Set aside time to get to know them all their friends, so when your kid asks for help in deciding which friends to keep for the long haul, you can offer sound advice.

Finally, the biggest thing left to remember is that this is still your child! Puberty may have put them (and you) through the wringer, but your adorable little child is still in there somewhere. Spend one on one time with them. Do activities that matter to them, even if it is getting out those "not cool to friends" legos and helping them build the Death Star or a pink and purple shopping mall. Let them know they matter to you!

Your children are going to survive through puberty. You will too. But instead of making it a goal to simply survive, plan to help them thrive. They need you in a different way then they did at 2, or 6, but they still need daily interaction with both parents. If one of you travels a lot, it is time to invest in a phone that can Skype or FaceTime easily. Daily time spent together, whether you feel like it or not, is the way to still hold their hearts, even if they won't let you hold their hands anymore. :)

Now go find those adorable scamps and give them a hug!

parenting truths, puberty, teenagers, family relationships, love

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