Cars and Castles: Parenting Teens and Toddlers
Kitchen chairs wobble high, topped with gallantly-waving blanket turrets. My teen daughter has asked for a break from homeschooling to play with her three year old brother.
“I haven’t given him enough time lately, Mom,” she shares sadly. “I’m already done with my math test, creative writing, and art. Can I build him a castle?”
Sure, yes! How do you say no to that? Minutes later, shaggy haired three year old races into the kitchen.
“Mom, I need a sword for my castle!”
Equipped with a green rubber spatula shoved down the side of his diaper, he runs off, with a few mighty leaps and paused poses. “I get bad guys,” he informs me.
Downstairs, tall broad-shouldered oldest reads “The Tale of Two Cities,” plodding through homework that takes up more and more of his day. Preparing for college in a year, he is learning that school becomes a way of life in these years. He balances two part time jobs, homework, and driver’s ed classes where three long-legged teens pile into our vehicle for carpooled rides.
Balancing glue stick crafts and college visits is a fun adventure. Here are three tools we have used in parenting teens and toddlers.
1.) Make the family unit something to be treasured. We affirm often that family is forever, and that these friendships are to be nurtured too. Meals are intentional times of conversation and laughter. Siblings are encouraged to mentor and invest in each other.
2.) Plan fun family events –for several ages. We have enjoyed half price sushi, board games, and movie nights over pizza, along with simple Pooh Bear memory games. I am recognizing that I need to do more outings for just the four older ones of us, too, leaving toddler with a babysitter sometimes. We hope to go bowling soon.
3.) Proceed with prayer, laughter and lots of communication. Discussions with our kids and getting their feedback is very helpful. Talking through parenting choices with my husband is vital too, and I appreciate his discernment. Together we seek God’s heart and wisdom too.
When I realize that this time in the home with our kids is so short, and that a lifetime of adult friendships are possible, it excites me and changes how I parent.
What about you? I look forward to hearing from you what parenting tips you enjoy, or what you have seen others do well, or what your parents did well with you.