Tag Archives: gratitude

7 Reasons To Cherish The Teenager(s) In Your Home

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We all know that the teenage years can be some of the most trying years.  But this is Thanksgiving week and people everywhere are adopting an attitude of gratitude.  So I’ve decided to give thanks for the teenagers in my home. You can, too. Here are 7 reasons to cherish your teenagers.

1.  Teenagers eat the food you prepare.

They may not share your love of salmon or mushrooms, but they probably won’t whine and sulk about the dinner menu like they did when they were little.  They’re beginning to appreciate the time and care that goes into preparing a meal.  And if you’re lucky enough to be able to dine together several times a week, research says your teens will perform better in school and resist negative peer pressure.  Family dinners are so hard to pull off with hectic schedules, but most teens will agree they are a welcome departure from fast food and Kraft macaroni and cheese.

2.  Teenagers help out around the house (with less whining and eye rolling each time).

By the time your children are teenagers, it’s no longer necessary for “helping out” to be a fun, game-style activity set to music. It should not require a fun follow-up activity either.  Teens will usually help out when asked because they know (at last!) that it’s the right thing to do.  It lightens the load for us parents, physically and mentally.  Alleluiah!

3.  Teenagers are technology savvy.

I “get” Facebook.  I get email.  I get texting and cable TV.   But apparently I don’t get the“blue” stuff.  I once flagged down a Target salesperson in the technology department to inquire which blue tooth system was rated best in quality for movie viewing.  I thought I was being proactive.  Before the young man could respond, my teen interjected, “Blue ray!  Not blue tooth, Mom!”  How could I have confused the two? And why are they both blue? My teens know way more about technology than I do and yours probably do, too.  Embrace this reality and give thanks for your teens.

4.  Teenagers introduce you to new skills and activities.

I’ve rarely had the opportunity to speak the French language I spent 7 years studying, but I do get to quiz my eighth grader on her Spanish and it makes me long to learn this language.  She is quite skilled at reciting simple sentences that sound sophisticated to my untrained ears.     Te amo, mamá.  Usted es el major!   (I love you, mom.  You’re the best!)

I would rather stick needles in my eyes than perform on stage in an auditorium.  So no one was more proud (or sweating more profusely) than I was, watching our oldest daughter play the role of a singing nun in her high school’s production of The Sound of Music.  And I get another rush from watching ice hockey with some of the most rowdy parents in sports.  I thank God when the game is over and no one is hurt.  I love the game but watching my child play it is completely out of my comfort zone.

Watching your teens develop as students, athletes, artists and friends is a role you only have for a short time.  I try to cherish these days and the lessons they bring.  (Remember those temper tantrums and power struggles from the toddler years?  I don’t. I do remember many of the good times, though).

5.  Teenagers enjoy family time.

It’s now OK to pull out [some of] those fantastic movies that contain more substance. Teenagers will not be scarred by mature language and more mature themes.  And there’s another bonus:  Teenagers may look at you appreciatively for your choices in comedy, drama and documentary.

Some people call gatherings with relatives forced family fun.   But I’m certain most teenagers welcome those infrequent opportunities to spend time with aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins.  What’s not to like about a full Thanksgiving belly followed by a game of Candyland and/or Scrabble? Or watching football or a classic Disney movie? And how about gathering for a Face Time session with long-distance relatives they love and miss?  Yes, teenagers gravitate toward friends more than family, but they can always count on unconditional love and acceptance of family through the ups and downs of the teenage years. Amen.

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6.  Teenagers let you know if you’re about to make a fashion faux pas.  

Or, they let you know at dinner, when it’s a little too late.   But you can still take away the lesson. (Stripes on stripes doesn’t work).

 

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7.  Teenagers still need us and (occasionally) come to us for advice.  

Sometimes we forget that our teens are still developing into adults. They make mistakes.  They make poor choices.  We often wonder what’s in store for their futures.  But they all show signs of becoming independent – which is great news!  It is also a reminder to us to cherish them right now while they’re still immersed in our lives.  Time flies when you’re having fun.

 

                                                          kids      blue hills   

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  

Oh How Lucky We Are

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Not that long ago, I admired the simple lifestyle and cheerful dispositions of the Ingalls family of Little House on the Prairie.  I still do, when I feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks I need to complete on a busy day.  But then my family reminds me of the monster that emerged from me last winter when we lost our electricity for five days.  Nothing about me resembled sweet Caroline Ingalls.

After one day, I missed my cup of coffee, my charged cell phone, and real lights,  (Candle light is charming for only so long).  After a couple of days, I even missed the sound of the dishwasher and washing machine.

Thanksgiving is just a few days away.  I have been asking my teens what they are thankful for.  Their answers please me.  I’m thankful for my family.  I’m thankful for food, for a house to live in, for heat, for good grades, for my friends.

My adult list is slightly different:  I am thankful for our overall good health, for our jobs that let us pay our mortgage, bills, and for dozens of other items each week.  I’m thankful for the time we can all spend together as a family – I’ll take what I can get.  I’m thankful for my extended family and for good friends. And I’m also thankful for the latest technology.  Wait, what? (to mimic my kids).

Don’t get me wrong.  My teens know there are aspects of computers and cell phones that irritate me.  I am not a fan of teens sitting in the same room while all are peering at their cell phones.  I cringe when I hear that cell phones are being used (covertly) during class. And I really don’t like hearing about cyber-bullying and passive-aggressive behavior used on social media which can do some serious emotional damage to kids.

But technology can also be so helpful.  My kids and I have access to their grades daily, online.  Like an itemized sales receipt, each homework assignment, quiz, test and project is there to admire (or dread).   Many students find the system motivating.  I got a 79, but if I study really hard for this next test, I can get that up to a B minus!  There are certainly no surprises at report card time.

Do my kids realize how fortunate they are to be able to do research papers from the comfort of our home?  (I remind them). No trip to the library is necessary  to search the card catalogue and then the shelves, for a book that is not always there.  No sitting down at a typewriter with correction tape or correction fluid to type a paper only to discover a whole paragraph has been accidentally omitted.

College applications can be completed online.  Sports and activity registrations can be done online.  Products can be ordered online.  Songs can be downloaded from online.  Books can be downloaded online.  Recipes can be researched and selected from online. Shows can be recorded and watched later. Nearly any movie can be found and watched with the click of a button.

But despite my fascination with technology – including crockpots, curling irons, printers/scanners, iPods, iPads, iPhones and GPS’s — I do think we all need a break from some of it from time to time. Last year, I gave up Facebook for Lent.  I knew it would be a good thing to do since I occasionally think back to a time when my youngest child felt neglected by me.

A few years ago, while browsing through my Facebook page, vaguely aware of my daughter’s voice, I suddenly heard “Facebook is a family wrecker!” It stopped me in my tracks.  I remember chuckling at the sound of this statement until I thought more about it.  I truly did not spend a lot of time on Facebook (although I enjoyed the time I did).  What my daughter was missing was simply an answer to her question which probably received a Just a minute from me. In her young mind, Facebook was wrecking an interaction with her mother.

And it is those face to face interactions and conversations that are so desperately needed these days.  Those are the first few hours without electricity during a storm (not the fifth day), when we play Monopoly or Life together by candlelight.

But it doesn’t need to be during a storm that we appreciate the attention we give each other.  We can get it by sitting down to dinner without a  t.v. on or a cell phone in sight. Or playing ping pong, taking a hike, even watching a movie or football or hockey together in the same room.

Yes, I am grateful for technology almost as much as I am grateful for my time with my teens.   We are no Ingalls family and that’s okay.  But winter is coming…. I really should stock up on some new board games.