It is my pleasure to welcome Licensed Mental Health Counselor Brenda Yoder to my guest blog series. Listen close, mamas. Her message is such an important one as we are intentional in parenting well. I highly recommend her book which launched one year ago as a powerful addition to your parenting toolbox.
I walked out of my classroom pulling my cart of books and memorabilia behind me. I turned off the lights, shut the door, and my heart broke in two.
I had failed. I wondered why other people could handle raising a large family while teaching high schoolers but I couldn’t.Click To Tweet While I had won teaching awards and made my US History classroom engaging to my students, the stress of teaching over 150 high schoolers and parenting four kids from high school to first grade took its toll on me.
Our busy family schedule with sports, chauffeuring kids, and homework pulled me in different directions in addition to grading papers, getting groceries, and moody teens. I was stressed out, irritable, and reactionary most of the time with yelling and angry outbursts towards my children.
I was a mom in the early fledging stage of parenting—the stage of release. My oldest was a high school sophomore and the youngest was in first grade. Life passed by school year after school year and my parenting and professional workload increased along with it. That particular school year my student numbers soared to 180. Being emotionally and physically exhausted when I got home, I had little patience for the barrage of “Mom, Mom, Mom” demands when I walked through the door. I had even less tolerance for my own teens’ snarky comments or disrespectful attitudes. I dreamed of the day when fewer kids were in the house so I could catch a break from the stress and mess that had become our life.
Then I realized there were only two years left with all four of my children at home. If something didn’t change, the memories my children would have of the years with all of us at home would be of an irritable, contentious mom. It was far from the dream I had of motherhood. Something needed to change before my firstborn went to college. That change had to come from me.
I made the hard decision to leave the profession I love. At forty, I went to graduate school full time to pursue another degree that would allow me professional opportunities that would complement our family while my children were still at home.
Since then, I’ve learned most families have some pain while raising teens and young adults.
- There’s no simple formula for the perfect Christian family. Each family has their own struggles and there’s not an easy answer for most family problems with teens and young adults except for biblical principles personally applied to individual families.
- Your children’s choices do not define you as a parent or excuse your behavior. A friend once said that raising godly kids isn’t our responsibility—it’s being a godly parent. When I realized my ungodly responses to my children’s behavior was negatively affecting our family, I had to focus on my own behavior, not my child’s. I had to enlist godly parenting rather than prideful, reactionary parenting.
- Teens and young adults need you invested in their mess. Mental health needs among today’s teens and young adults are increasing at an alarming rate. They need us as parents to be fully engaged and invested in their emotional and mental health much more than their popularity status. We need to walk with them through their struggles.
- We need to extend grace to one another as parents. Parent pain is deep pain. Most parents are afraid to share what their child or family is struggling with for fear of judgment—judgment of your child and judgment as a parent. When you’re already hurting, added judgment debilitates you. When God started transforming me and our family, I noticed how many others were struggling around me, too. We need to extend the grace of Christ to one another.
- Diligently pursue God during the years your kids are fledging the nest. The biblical principles in Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind are ones I’ve clung to. God’s Word is the best parenting primer for the hardest moments parenting teens and young adults.
I’ve written Fledge to encourage parents in this season of growing pains. Life changes faster than you can imagine. Some days it’s really hard.
For more on everything in the fledge stage of parenting–facing midlife, mom grief, identity, and everything in between, get Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind. Jim Daly of Focus on the Family says it’s filled with “sensitive, biblical wisdom for moms who want to help their children launch well.” It’s available online and at major retailers. Join me on Facebook for our upcoming Fledge Parenting Forum, and on Instagram, Twitter, and at the Life Beyond the Picket Fence blog at brendayoder.com
Brenda Yoder is a speaker, author, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and life coach whose passion is encouraging others when life doesn’t fit the storybook image. Her new book, Fledge:
Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind is a personal handbook for parents in the season
of raising and releasing kids and is endorsed by Jim Daly of Focus on the Family. Brenda’s been
featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul books, the Washington Post, and For Every Mom. Brenda
is also former teacher and school counselor and was twice awarded the Touchstone Award for
teachers. Her ministry, Life Beyond the Picket Fence, is found at brendayoder.com where she
writes about faith, life, and family beyond the storybook image. Brenda is a wife and mom of
four children, ranging from teens to adults, and lives on a farm in Indiana.
She also sends out an occasional prayer letter including her latest information on faith, parenting and mental health as well as speaking engagement locations and topics. Please subscribe here for that information
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