Author Jennifer Slattery
Reaching Our Teens
It’s the one job I most want to excel in and yet the one responsibility I mess up most. But when it all goes well, when, by the grace of God I manage my emotions and hold my tongue, it’s beautiful. Bonding. Healing.
Moms, I don’t think I’m alone in this. Nothing tugs at our hearts quite like our kids, and it’s that intense tug that often does us in. For me, most of my less than grace-filled reactions are usually rooted in fear. And when I’m in that hyper-alert fearful state, I tend to react… before I think.
It was a Sunday night, and my husband I had just returned from an overnight away—our teenage daughter’s first night home alone. Well, sort of alone. She had a friend over. This trip felt pretty monumental. With our daughter leaving for college next fall, this step of independence only served to remind us of how much she’s grown and how short our time with her truly is.
And I was giggly-excited, thinking about how her night might have gone with her friend. Did they feel like roommates? Did they enjoy their freedom and having the house all to themselves? I had so many questions I wanted to ask our daughter, but it appeared I’d have to wait. By the time we made it home, she’d already left for church. Youth group followed, keeping her out until almost nine.
Needless to say, by the time she returned, she was more than a little tired. But even so, I expected her to come in our room, sit on our bed, and tell us all about her first semi-adult experience. The response I got? Aloof. Maybe even a little snotty. Could I even say rude?
It started out with a simple question and ended with her walking away, not having answered.
My husband waved it off as no big deal, but the more I thought about our interchange, the more upset I became. How ungrateful, I thought. We’ve given her so much, and this is how she responds after having had this new experience of freedom?
Though in truth, I was frightened. I felt like I’d lost my daughter’s respect. Like she felt she no longer had to listen to me. If you have a teen, you know how frightening that can be. So, fueled by the anxiety only a mom can work into a frenzy, I sent her a text explaining my feelings.
Her response: I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful.
I paused, read it again. No excuses? No anger? Just a simple, “I’m sorry”?
Something felt… not right, so I got out of bed and went downstairs to her room. And I simply sat on her bed. To listen, because I sensed there was much more going on with her than an unanswered question.
I was right. Before long, she was in tears, sharing all her fears and insecurities. That overnight that made my husband and I more acutely aware of our daughter’s impeding departure? It’d done the same for her, making adulthood all the more real. And she wasn’t sure she was ready. I rubbed her back, let her know her feelings were normal and that she’d do great. Soon, what could’ve turned into a major argument, dividing a wedge between us—at a time when she really needed me—turned into a wonderful, heart-to-heart, bonding moment.
As I walked back upstairs, I was reminded of the need to resist surface level parenting, making assumptions about behavior without taking the time to reach the heart. And thanking God for His gentle guiding Spirit and the knowledge that I’ll never have to parent alone.
Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. She also writes for Crosswalk.com, Internet Café Devotions, and the group blog, Faith-filled Friends. When not writing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her teenage daughter and coffee dates with her handsome railroader husband.
Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.
Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently on sale at Amazon for under $4 (print and kindle version)! You can get that here: http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-I-Do-Jennifer-Slattery-ebook/dp/B00MMRRCZU/
When Dawn Breaks:
As the hurricane forces Jacqueline to evacuate, her need for purpose and restitution propel her north to her estranged and embittered daughter and into the arms of a handsome new friend. However, he’s dealing with a potential conspiracy at work, one that could cost him everything, and Jacqueline isn’t sure if he will be the one she can lean on during the difficult days ahead. Then there are the three orphans to consider, especially Gavin. Must she relinquish her chance at having love again in order to be restored?
Read a free, 36-page excerpt here: http://issuu.com/newhopedigital/docs/slattery_sampler/1
You can buy a copy here:
On Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/when-dawn-breaks-a-novel-jennifer-slattery/1120694122?ean=9781596694231
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