Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Parenting Older Children and Keeping Marriage First

My mom, Teresa, who has 26 years of marriage, 25 years of parenthood, and 20+ years of homeschooling under her belt, took the time to answer a few questions for me. If you missed the first part of this interview, read it here.

Me: As a mother of older children, what was your biggest challenge?

Mom: Presently, with daughters ages 11 and 13 at home, I’m still experiencing this challenge. As a mother of older children, my greatest challenge is the constant work of instructing and delegating while maintaining a peaceful atmosphere within our home.

My prayerful desire is to continue to give my older children affirmation through affectionate hugs and words that build them up, while simultaneously requiring them to work diligently and sweetly within the household.

The older children become, the more complicated they seem to get, particularly when their hormones start to kick in. So, parents need to understand and remember that their children are changing mentally and physically.

As children reach adolescence, they naturally begin thinking for themselves and challenging others’ thoughts. As parents, we have to stay very involved in their lives to give them godly guidance; if we don’t give direction, someone else will. We don’t always agree in our thinking, so it can be tough to keep their heart’s door (the channels of communication) open. If we stay connected by giving physical and verbal affirmation, speaking the truth in love, showing genuine interest in them, experiencing fun activities as well as work activities with them, they are less likely to close us out. It is also vital that your place of authority in their lives is maintained. Hopefully, this place of authority and respect was already established from their infancy.

Me: What was one thing that helped you keep your marriage first?

Mom: One thing that helps me keep my marriage first is to practice being FLEXIBLE! Most of us like to get into a groove in life and stay there where it’s familiar and comfortable. It seems that God doesn’t allow us to stay in that place too long; instead, He wants us to be poised for change, if necessary (change in our schedule, change in our plans for today or the future, change in our thinking, and so on).

My family
Unlike me, my husband likes to do some things spontaneously. This is one way I’ve had to practice the art of “changing gears.” Once, he and my children (Alicia included!) planned a family ski trip, even booked the reservations, while I was away from home!

“We’re going on a ski trip!” my kids excitedly informed me when I walked in the door. Dollar signs flashed over my eyes, and my husband quickly assured me that we could just as easily cancel everything. Nevertheless, after the initial shock and the mental gymnastics needed for me to actually grasp the idea realistically, we began making further plans for our trip.

Today, the expense of that trip is not what affects us; it’s the wonderful memories we share. It was our last family vacation together before our children began getting married, and it was worth it!

Being sensitive to the need for change (even a family vacation) and not resisting it, was a form of honoring my husband and putting our marriage first.

Daily, however, flexibility within my marriage means dropping everything to give my husband a hug, some attention, and affirmation, when I sense he needs it. It means giving him room to be human and not expecting perfection. It means trusting him and giving him the benefit of the doubt, even if it means he makes mistakes and leads our family into some tough places, even failure.

Practicing flexibility within my marriage means I’m willing to let God lead. I am trusting God to lead my husband so that he can lead my family and me. I’m confident that if I’m praying, He will.

Isn't my mom cool? And she's right...that ski trip is an awesome memory. I have one more installment of this mini interview series coming up (hopefully next week, but I'm not making any set-in-stone promises, since apparently I'm not very good at that!), so stay tuned!

What part of this advice is the most helpful to you? Or do you have some of your own advice to share with us in the comments? Please do!


This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday.


  1. Your Mom sounds like a great mother! So glad she's around to get some great advice :)

  2. I love the line about being "poised for change." What a challenge!

  3. This is such a great little series. You are one of how many?? I wanna hear more! MORRRRRE! LOL. No, your mom seems amazing and like a really cool lady. Great idea for a post!

  4. You're right, your mom is "cool"! :)

  5. Flexibility is definitely a good trait to have as a parent and a partner. As the mom of teens, I am definitely treading in waters that are new to me. It is an exciting time and I am enjoying the ride:) Nice post!

  6. My husband is very spontaneous and while I am to a point, since having kids I've become far more rigid. One "trick" I've learned is to always have a bag packed for our girls in the van {diapers, change of clothes, toys, snacks, etc} so that if a quick trip to the mall turns into an entire day out, we're prepared. It's made such a difference for my husband - he feels like we're free to go and do and I feel prepared for whatever the day has. :)

  7. Sarah, I love that idea!!! You sound more like my mom, and your husband sounds like my dad (super spontaneous!). So funny!! I guess that's how it typically goes...


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