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Prioritizing Our Teens

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For the vast majority of our 20 year marriage, our parenting has revolved around little kids. We had a baby before our first anniversary, and 10 babies by our 10 year anniversary. 

When this is what your family looks like, your life obviously revolves around bedtime, nap time, sippy cups, fuzzy-feet pajamas, trips to the library and lots of cuddles. This isn’t what our family looks like anymore. For the first time the balance has shifted and we have more “big” kids than “little” kids. We currently have four teenagers, and by November we will have six! On October 13th, Tucker will turn 10 and we will have only one child in the single digits. Wha?????

As the numbers and ages of our children shift, Chuck and I have come to realize that our priorities need to shift as well. Instead of staying home  because of bedtime or naps, it’s time to bring the (former) little kids into some big-kid activities.

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Chuck and I have spent most of this year talking about how we prioritize our teens and their needs in our family. How can we spend more time with them? How can we support them more? With four grown children moved out of the house, we understand that our time with the teens we have left is short. Very short. We have decided to shift our priorities and make sure we are spending plenty of time with our teens, pouring into them and getting to know them better. As we all know, teens are growing and learning and making new friends. They are exploring the world. Between school (community college for our teens) and work, they are gone a lot. Because of that we are trying to make the most of the time we have with them.

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Our kids with special needs take up a lot of our time and energy and we wanted to make sure we weren’t passing over our teens because they were old enough to look after themselves. So we have been focusing on our teens lately. We set up our teen-only snack bin, we have been encouraging them to bring their friend’s home. And we have made on more huge leap: we have withdrawn ourselves from scouts (Enoch will stay long enough to attain Eagle Scout) and become youth group leaders at our church.

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It was Chuck’s idea to give up scouts. He found himself several times this year planning camping trips and hikes that he can only take his boys on. His time is limited and he wants to spend what free time he has with the family, not just his sons. He has decided that his time would be better spent planning events and trips the entire family can be a part of. We now only have three children too young for our church youth group (Avi, Tucker and Apollo). Those three have been granted VIP access to come along to youth group and events.

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Youth group starts up again mid-September can Chuck and I (and Avi, Tucker and Apollo) will be there too. 

Times change, and sometimes our priorities need to changes as well.

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9 Comments

  1. Judy Small

    Renee, your post is so timely! Our kids are nowhere near the teenage years (yet!), but I am very keen on learning from those who are a few steps ahead of me. Thank you for sharing your approach to this new stage in your family’s life!

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Thanks Judy. It’s been a bit of a mental shift. We are definitely more used to “little kid” things and special needs things, but are excited about our new adventure.

  2. Mary-Claire

    Teenagers definitely need different parental involvement than the little ones do. We have actually shifted our work schedules to accommodate participating in (and driving to) more activities with our children. 😀

  3. Julie

    Renee, that’s such a fabulous and encouraging “paradigm shift”. Kudos for recognizing that the good (i.e. Scouts) can sometimes keep you from the better (whole family). I wish you well with the youth group! Julie

  4. Lindsay

    You are some of the most thoughtful, deliberate parents I know. I admire your continued attention to all aspects of your family’s life. You inspire me and many others!

  5. Vivian

    i love the photo’s…what a great group of handsome/beautiful children!. I would like to add advice but you have covered it, you and Chuck have done a great job…BRAVO!!!

  6. Traci

    I love this! We think of teens as separating from the family….when they needs the family as much as ever. Wonder about teen only times for the computers/DVD players…

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