It was late at night, and I had just come down to the kitchen one last time to get my coffee set up for the morning when I saw my son’s dirty dishes and cup in the sink. He had come home from work, ate a late dinner, and was up in his room playing video games to unwind. As soon as I noticed what he left behind, I immediately started to send him a scathing text, scolding him for, once again, not cleaning up after himself.
But before sending it, I paused, closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and thought to myself, “Grace.” Then, I deleted it.
I’ve been thinking a lot about grace lately and how moms have been gifted with an unlimited amount to use in their parenting. Without it, we could never do the extraordinary job of raising our kids and persevering through each day, week, month, and year, again and again. Motherhood requires a miraculous amount, whether grace is dripping through our daily decisions or sustaining us in stressful situations. And my gosh, I’ve learned moms have unlimited grace when parenting teens.
Grace is at the core of our love for our kids. With it comes unending flexibility, compassion, forgiveness, and endurance. Grace is present in everything we do. All our strength is rooted in grace. If it were not for grace, how could we love these kids of ours through their teen years? Grace has many definitions depending on the source where it’s found, but I’ve concluded that moms, more than anyone else, have discovered the depths of what it truly means. I believe the most potent type of grace is given to us mothers where the well we tap into never runs dry, although we feel we are scraping the bottom of the barrel at times.
How else can we explain our relentless restraint, unlimited patience, and never-ending sacrificial service for our kids? These years, when we’re raising our teens into adulthood, our job is undeniably hard. We are teachers, leaders, instructors, and role models. We are rule-setters, consequence-givers, supervisors, and investigators. We are comforters, caretakers, encouragers, and counselors. We are schedule planners, house managers, cooks, and cleaners. We are Uber drivers, late-nighters, early risers, and safety patrolers. We are appointment makers, health advocates, triage nurses, and caregivers. We are cheerleaders, problem-solvers, solution-seekers, and financial supporters. We are incessant worriers, burden bearers, weight carriers, and prayer warriors. We are hope holders, fierce fighters, dream launchers, and lasting anchors.
The list is unlimited. And apparently, so is our grace to do it all. We pour grace into every aspect of our parenting.
The constant reminders for them to pick up after themselves… Grace.
Trusting them over and over again, despite their mistakes… Grace.
Allowing them to forge their own path and make their own decisions… Grace.
Encouraging them when they fail… Grace.
Accepting when they refuse our help… Grace.
Being the recipient of their bad moods and emotional outbursts… Grace.
Having patience when they repeat the same behavior over and over again… Grace.
Persevering through their defiant attitude… Grace.
Trying to understand them without judgment… Grace.
Meeting them right where they are without pushing them to be anything more… Grace.
Having compassion for their challenges and trials… Grace.
Giving them a second, third, or 400th chance at following through on what we ask them to do… Grace.
Forgiving their disrespectful actions or resistance to rules… Grace.
Helping them with daily duties and teaching them responsibilities… Grace.
Still loving them fiercely when they refuse to love us back… Grace.
Trying so hard to see their point of view… Grace.
Being a safe place for them to open up, no matter what they have to say… Grace.
Receiving their foolish remarks, insulting opinions, or rude responses… Grace.
Giving them room to grow and learn who they are… Grace.
Showing up and supporting their interests no matter how busy we are… Grace.
Returning to them after they push us away, time and time again… Grace.
Loving them when they are making poor choices and resistant to change… Grace.
Slowly surrendering control and having the strength to let go… Grace.
During these teen years, our grace trickles into everything we do, drop by drop, from the trivial dirty dishes left in the kitchen sink to the really big damaging things. And sometimes, our grace pours out to quench the fires of rage, disappointment, and heartache. Life with our teens is unpredictable, exhausting, often stressful, and terrifying. Along the way, we are learning how we can love and guide our kids through all their growing pains.
Sometimes, we feel like we have nothing left in us, and we fall into our beds with weary hearts and wounded pride, wondering if we’re doing this whole thing wrong or right. But in the end, what matters most to our kids is the grace-laced love we endlessly give.
I’ve found that grace must be central to our relationships with our teens while everything else revolves around that. Grace has the power to cultivate connection, motivate change, nourish their worth, and build longevity for a lifetime of love with our kids. Grace isn’t perfect… it’s flexible and fluctuates through the ebb and flow of failing and learning. Not only do we douse it on our kids regularly, but we’ve slowly figured out that we must drench ourselves in it, too.
Whatever parenting trenches you’re in with your teen, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and whisper, “Grace.”
Tap into your well of grace when parenting teens.
No matter how empty you think your well of grace might be, keep scraping the bottom of your barrel, digging deep within yourself, and you will find just enough to survive the next hard thing. Grace is the greatest gift we moms have been given. Sometimes, we forget it exists, so here’s your reminder that you have been given the perfect portion of grace for raising your kid.