Parenting Tweens. Help for the frazzled parent.

raftParenting the river of life.

There are so many times and (days) when we really wonder, “What were we thinking when we decided to be a parent?”

In his book Parenting isn’t for Cowards, Dr. James Dodson writes about how we need to look at parenting like a river float trip. Sometimes you are in the calm, clear water, sometimes it is a little muddy, and then there are the times you are in stage 4 rapids holding on for your life. He goes on to say that the good news is the rapids don’t last forever. That being said, we do still get frazzled. It seems more evident when kids reach the Tween stage.

Sometimes we just need to listen.

I heard a cute story, actually a joke the other day. It went like this; An elderly man was walking by a pond when he heard a voice say, “hey down here”. Looking around he saw a frog sitting on a rock. The frog called out to him saying,”If you kiss me I will turn into a beautiful princess.” Think that the man did not hear him, he said it again, “If you kiss me I will turn into a beautiful princess.” Still, no reply from the man. Getting frustrated the frog yelled with all his power, “IF YOU KISS ME, I WILL TURN INTO A BEAUTIFUL PRINCESS.” This time the man reached down and picked the frog up and put him in his shirt pocket. Confused the frog asked, “are you not going to kiss me?” “Heck NO,” the man replied. “At my age I just want someone to talk to me!”

Take Time

Isn’t that what our children want from us? To take the time to sit and talk? When was the last time you went for a walk or for a ride in the car just to hear what your child has to say? I used to take my tweens for a drive on a warm summer night up on a hill where we could overlook the city. It seemed to me in that dark quiet nighttime, we could discuss the wonders of the world without having to see each other’s expressions. Not that expressions are a bad thing. But this seemed to give the kiddo a sense of freedom. Freedom to say what they were feeling, what had happened in their life that week or maybe just ask questions that they were embarrassed to ask.

Sometimes there weren’t any questions, just small talk. That was OK. We would talk about the stupid dog or maybe what a goal for the summer would be. The point is, we talked.

Riding the rapids.

Bible scripture warns us in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” and in Colossians 4:21, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so they won’t become discouraged”.

This is one of the hardest rapids I had to face. When my children would be mouthy or just roll their eyes at me, I wanted to react. A lot of the time that is just what I did do. But what did that accomplish? NOTHING! Like the verse says it just discouraged them. Sometimes it even made them feel defeated. You could see it in their eyes. That is when I needed to sit down, apologize and ask them for forgiveness for my actions.

It took time and patience and I wish I could say I learned quickly but that was not the case. I would get so caught up in the rapids from my childhood that I would let the waves of anger flow over me until I spilled out of the raft.

Making word pictures.

Have you ever thought about your words being a picture? To say something that someone can visualize is a masterpiece. It helps the child to understand what you are trying to get across to them.

A word picture doesn’t have to be phony or elaborate. It just has to explain how you are feeling or how the child is seeing his or her situation.

Let’s say your child has not been doing his homework. He is getting failing grades. In the past he has never really had to study hard and now in middle school more is required of him. He is struggling and feels like all hope is lost. He does not see what is wrong as he never really has been in this predicament before.

Enter the word picture. You would tell the child; “Imagine you are on a boat. There are some clouds out in the distance but the sun is shining. You are relaxing getting a few rays. The gentle rocking of the boat makes you sleepy and you doze off. Suddenly you are awakened by the waves coming over the side. You are being tossed from side to side. You are scared not knowing if you can get back to shore. Finally, the motor starts. Driving through the wind and pouring rain you make it to shore. Exhausted but safe.”

Don’t Panic in the Storm

“I think this is how you feel about school. You have always been able to just float along, get good grades and the ride was pretty smooth. Now you are in new waters. The storm on the horizon is not studying. All of a sudden the waves of a test comes along and you panic. Wishing you would have done your homework, you try your best but you just don’t know the answers. That is where I come in. It is hard to stay on track when you are not used to the wind and rain. But together we will figure out a good plan for you to study and bring those grades up.”

One of the best books on this subject is by Dr. Gary Smalley. The 5 languages of Love. He breaks down how important these pictures are. He also tells how to learn the art of word pictures for not only to help your children but to communicate with your spouse and others.

Good night.

Lastly, I want you to know that no matter what has happened, no matter how upset you are, your child needs to hear that they are loved. You only have the present to tell them. To give them a kiss goodnight is the one thing they need. They may not want it but tomorrow is a new day. The river will be easier to ride next time.

I would love to hear from you. Please send me an email with your comments or questions. Please like us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Until next time…
Check out this video from Dr. James Dodson Parenting Isn’t for Cowards

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  1. Jennifer

    I Completely Agree! I have a 17 yr old daughter and a 10 yr old son… I have learned most definitely from my kids that they just need to be heard, more than anything… Even if we can’t always offer a solution or fix a problem they are having, they mostly need to know that someone they trust is listening to them and that we are there for them no matter what. I find that a lot of the time they want to figure out a solution on their own, but need a listening ear and affirmation and maybe a little advice before they make their choices and solve their own problems… I love that book, The 5 languages of Love. It has helped me quite a bit. They still need guidelines, a good routine, held accountable with discipline for wrong choices and responsibilities, but they need to be loved, encouraged and listened to. Thank-you for sharing with us your insight of these major necessities in the parenting of our children.
    God Bless You and Your Family

    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement. Do you mind if I add it to the comments on my site? The site is just getting up and I have so many corrections to make.LOL If not, I totally understand. Hugs

  2. Marge

    Thanks so much for your insights. Yes I am just getting started with this new site. I have a lot to accomplish and welcome your suggestions. Again thanks for taking the time I really appreciate it.

  3. Just FYI… I see where you got confused. I had not gotten a chance to remove a lot of the text that came with my theme template. After reading your comments, I went back in and deleted a bunch of unnecessary items. Now to move on with getting the rest taken care of. LOL Hugs Marge

  4. jahgod

    Hi, I really like your website. It has tons of very informative and useful information to help people with their children . I really like how you also added videos to support your information. I will definitely be back to visit your site very often.

    I wanted to add that the website has a very nice logo, keep up the good work.

    1. Marge

      Thanks for the wonderful comments. I appreciate you taking the time to look at the site.  Hopefully I will get all the little quirks worked out soon!



  5. Marita

    Hi Marge,

    Your post is so fitting for me. I have a son who is in grade 7 and we always argue a lot with regards to his priorities.

    He is into video games and it is so hard to control him and let him stop and start his homework. Especially on weekends starting on Friday night. No amount of explanation would let him do his assignments on these days. I really have to push him hard even putting password in his laptop sometimes or resort to threats.

    He says I don’t listen to him and respect his opinions. I tell him it’s for your own good, you have to prioritize your schoolworks for you to be able to get good grades for university.

    I just include him in my daily prayers and encourage him to attend mass with me every Sunday and pray with me at times. Our prayers keep us going.

    Talking to him is a struggle as well, when I ask him about school, he just tells me, we did something, and does not want to elaborate.

    I always keep our communication open and tell him that we are always here to support him no matter what.

    I see to it that tell him I love him everyday.

    Thanks for reminding me to talk to my son frequently and to listen to what he has to say. This is really a challenge for me.

    God bless,

    1. Marge

      Thanks so much for your comments. I know how challenging this can be.  We have foster parented 17 kids besides our own. Boys are the hardest to get to talk.

      Hugs   Marge

  6. ZEGU

    Thank you for this interesting and informative post. I love the boat analogue for parenting which I completely relate to. It spells out the unpredictable nature of parenting. At times things go on smoothly but can change all of a sudden.
    I agree with you, parents should make effort to create time to sit down with their children and give them an ear. Something most parents are struggling with these days due to hectic lifestyles.
    I would like to congratulate you on raising twins. Well done!

    1. Marge

      Thank you for your kind comments and for taking the time to read my post. Blessings to you.

  7. Jaime

    I think your post gives good advice for anyone, more than just parents. I feel like when I take a moment and don’t react negatively as I want to, in any situation, it turns out better. My husband LOVES to roll his eyes and be sassy, kind of like a teenager, and it definitely is hard not to just want to freak out – and I know there are moments when I aggravate him. I can’t wait to have to deal with this on a teenage level. Obviously he’s not a child so perhaps the verse doesn’t apply exactly in this case – but anyway I love your idea to go out and look at things and just let them vent or say whatever they need to say. It helps so relieve so much tension in a relationship if communication and love is allowed to flow freely, without judgement.

    1. Marge

      Thanks Jamie! I have been married to my husband for 46 years. Believe me we both still can act like spoiled kids when we don’t get our way. Lol. I appreciate your taking the time to comment. Blessings to you. Marge

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