Unexpected Lessons from Raising Teeanage Boys

I knew having teenaged boys would mean constantly filling the pantry with a never ending snack stash, picking up sweaty sports socks (wrestling ones were the worst), and lots of sitting on the sidelines cheering them on.  There was one experience I had not prepared for- seeing myself in the girls who my boys bring to the house…we have only had a few but enough to make me realize a lot about my past.

As a teenaged girl, I thought if a guy liked me he would want to spend as much time as possible with me either hanging out or talking on the phone- in the days before text messaging, snap chat, instagram, and Facebook. Well, as I watch my boys, I see that is really not true. They still want to play sports, hang out with friends, and do boy stuff often. Without a girl…..and that is healthy! It does not mean he does not like her- he just needs space or he gets way too stressed out! And he likes a girl who has her own hobbies, interests, and friend group. He does not want the pressure to be everything to her.

I was needy the way a lot of girls are now. Dreaming of Prince Charming and watching sunsets at the beach together clouded my brain a LOT. It is funny- I told Kenny, my husband of 20 years, that I really don’t like sunsets and I wonder if it is tied to all those crazy daydreams. I wanted attention and someone to make a big deal over me. I wanted to have somewhere to go so I felt important. I wanted to be pursued so I felt I was worthy. Looking back now, it makes me very, very sad. I want to say I was a confident, balanced teenager pursuing God and His purpose but instead I was scared, lonely, and clingy.

As a teenaged girl, I thought that meeting a boy’s parents was terrifying on so many levels. I wanted to be perfect so they would like me- say all the right things, be who they wanted me to be, and fit right in from the first encounter.  If I wasn’t the type they were looking for, I was sure I could become “that girl” eventually. I see the ashen looks I get when a girl comes to our house for the first time and I get it…..but I want to scream, “I PROMISE I AM NOT SCARY!” but it would not do any good. I see the fear in their eyes as they sit down to dinner with us- a table full of boys and me- and I know it is overwhelming. I wish they could be themselves and enjoy our family from the beginning but I know they are too worried about what we think of them.

I did not grow up with a stable father figure in my life so I was especially skeptical of the dads. Were they going to be unpredictable and angry? Was I an inconvenience? Then I look at my husband now and am full of peace knowing he would only show love and kindness to a girl who walked through our door. That is one of the greatest joys I can have since I underrstand the insecurities of a teenaged girl.

I am surrounded constantly with boys and very few teenaged girls have entered my life since I have been an adult. I think I have never really dealt with my own issues from when I was that age (this blog makes that pretty obvious) and so I never felt like I had much to offer a teenaged girl….so I have kept my distance. But now periodically one comes over and I want so much to overcome that fear of not being enough that I talk too much. I want to jump in and talk about everything but I know I can be intimidating so I try to save SOME questions for the next time. It is hard for me to not know her story day one but I know that glazed over look teenagers can get and I know to reign in the interrogation. I guess I want to be validated now for time lost then. It is a strange paradox. I am still sorting it all out.

This has been a huge awakening for me! I am overcome with emotion- sadness for time lost trying to find acceptance, a little bit of fear as to how this will all play out with my boys, and also anticipation for the future, and thanksgiving that my husband and I have a home where we can invite others and they can hopefully find love and acceptance.

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