Jan 122017

Teenager Attitudes







by Stephanie Pletka

Help, I Have a Teenager

What happened to my sweet, precious child? You know, the one that was fun, lovable, a conversationalist and a friend.

It’s a phase, just like everything else.  Seasons of life come and go; it’s their right of passage.  And it too, shall pass. You survived it, and so will they.

Remember, kids actually like discipline, margin and guidance. It’s the world’s best kept secret. They’re trained as teenagers to roll their eyes, cop an attitude, sigh loud enough to break the sound barrier, but it’s all smoke and mirrors.

Their hormones are a mess, as they transition from children to adulthood. I know how they feel. They’ve got the case of the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s but I can’t, going on; testing the waters on every front.

Sweet Attitude Before Teenage Years

Sweet Attitude Before Teenage Years

Notice during game night, they act too old and cool to play, but they hover close enough, as to not miss out on the action.

It’s their job to test the boundaries, as they grow up, seek independence  and figure out who they are in this world.

Don’t you remember what u were like, growing up? 3 times worse. Oh dear God, I can hear the prayers now: please don’t let them be near as bad as I was, you know- you already have a story in your head; and it probably includes the word jail. You’re already calling your parents to say you’re sorry.

By testing the boundaries, they’re walking up to the Electric Fence of life to make sure it’s still there, making them feel safe, secure and cared for.

Guide them now, like bumper cars hitting the rails. Parental Guidance is a safe place for kids to bump life, test drive what works and what doesn’t, take notes and move towards success in a safe, secure area; before they enter harsh reality and life offers fewer soft places to land.

When they act unlovable, lean in, love harder, chase often and pray like there’s no tomorrow.

Like the Olympic sport, Curling, we’re whisking the broom left and right: love, lean in, hug, repeat. Hey, they gotta know we’re either crazy (highly probable) or care about them too much to let them veer off into the ways of the world.

They are your future. Their kids will be your grandkids. You have to fight for the goodness. No one will love, guide and care for your kids like you will.  Stay the course, parents. You got this! Don’t let them fool ya. They love the guidance and margin. Those rolling of the eyes, is just code word for ‘I love you too.’

Because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a Father, the son he delights in. Prov 3:12

Aug 242010

Do you ever teach your kids things like sharing, honesty, responsibility you know, all the character stuff, and hope to goodness it sticks?

The other day we (me, my 4 kids and husband) spent the day at the pool; as soon as we walked in the door, the kids are hollering:  What’s for dinner?  I mean, we just got home.  If I could click my heels, dinner would be on the table, but give a mom a break, would ya?

Where’s my shoes?  Can you untie this?  I need socks!  Where’s my piano book? Where’s the PIANO?  I mean, really?  I think kids get so use to relying on mom to do everything, they begin to ask questions they already know the answer to.  I said:  Do you know where clean underwear comes from?  And, as if I was about to reveal where Santa Claus lives, the excitable 4 year old said:  Where?

I felt like a rebellious teenager.  I rose up and said:    The Laundry Room!  Eight little eyes looked at me as if I had said:  no more cartoons for the rest of your life!

Where are my shoes?  Wherever you put them.  Do I have underwear?  I hope so.  I felt rattled.  I said:   I quit. . . I quit . . . I quit.  They stood in Silence – Then came the giggles.  “Mom you can’t quit.”  You’re MOM.

Of course, I couldn’t  quit.  Nor did I really want too.  I mean, if someone else tried to walk in and take my place, I’d give them a run for their money.  We may complain, but we still want the job, right?

But what I have learned, is kids can be responsible for things, even at the smallest of ages, and while they may buck the system in the beginning, they sorta like the whole “team spirit” I’m apart of something “greater than myself” mentality.

It gives them a chance to see how life really works; they aren’t the center of everything, rather they’re one of MANY spokes on the family wheel.  It’s good for them to see how dinner gets made, and how clean shirts make it from the laundry basket to their closet.

They begin to take pride in helping with the dishes, the laundry, cleaning out the car and sweeping the kitchen.  Look at your to-do-list, tear off a piece and give it to them.  Before long, they’ll expect a chore or two, and before you know it, they’ll be cleaning the house, making dinner and doing the laundry. . .  I’m envisioning it now.  It’s all a process.  Just stay consistent and the rewards will be great.  Until then, has anyone seen the piano?

Teach me to number my days, that I might gain a heart of wisdom and fulfill your purpose for my life.  Psalm 90:12

 Posted by at 11:12 pm
Aug 052010

When we go to my parents house, it looks as though the Circus has come to town.  After a 7 hour drive, the mini-van door flies open – and little clowns are jumping out, one by one, by one by one.  Chic-Fil-a bags, sippy cups and nintendo games are leaping out the sides as if they’re trying to escape; sounds of cups rolling down the drive way and baby cries escalating are enough to make anyone run for the hills. Just as my husband pops the trunk open, out jumps a back pack, 2 stuffed animals and my make-up bag decides to explode.

Ah, the joys of traveling with the Circus.  No matter how much money you have, it is never enough for all the things they want: food, clothes, braces, music lessons, endless ice cream and toys.  No matter how many diapers you bring, it is too few.  The potty training-kid leaves a black line on the toilet lid; little Johnny did an art project on his face with a Sharpie Pen, and the dog pooped in the back room, because no one took him outside today.

Then there are the hugs, and kisses . . . the first time your baby girl says:  Mama . . . the giggles that come when they understand their first joke, conversations they have with their little siblings in the back seat, as they fight over whether daddy flew to You Nork, or  New York.

Our job as the Ring Master can be tiresome and relentless.  My mom laughed that we didn’t need to go to the circus, we WERE the Circus.  Just as attending this event has become something of the past, family life and spending real, quality time with each other has become old fashion as well.  From busy schedules and homework, to team sports and iphone texting, pretty soon, we’ll look around and the circus has packed up and left.

Did we spend real quality time with our kids, soak in the moments (eye to eye, knee to knee), let them wrestle on the floor, play with their barbies and listen to their big ideas that took 10 minutes to spit out?  Did we really look, when they wanted us too, or are we saying: a huh, yes, sure, in a minute, maybe later, not now . . . . without even a gaze in their direction.

At some point, we’ll have a view from our back porch looking in, and we’ll realize the Big Top Circus has packed up and left. There will be an old tire swing in the backyard, reminding us of days gone by, a tree house that now only whispers of the fun times had.  The loud noises we hear are now coming from our neighbors driveway . . . sippy cups rolling down the road, Chic-fil-a bags falling out the car doors and make-up bags exploding as baby cries escalate.

Don’t be in such a hurry, flying here to there, flustered over stuff that doesn’t really matter.  What you have is the Greatest Show on Earth!  Embrace your job as the Ring Master and when it’s all said and done, there will be no regrets.  It will be: Well done, My Good and Faithful Servant.  Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or friend, if you’ve invested in your circus and embraced all the moments, they will always come back and visit.  And they’ll think You’re The Greatest Show on Earth.  Here’s to Happy, Healthy Families.

Matthew 25: 21

The Master was full of praise.  “Well done, my good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you more responsibilities.  Let’s celebrate together.”

 Posted by at 10:16 pm
Jul 222010

In February, it snowed.  So I made a last minute dash to our local Stuff Mart to buy warm gloves and the manager said: “Sorry ma’am we don’t have gloves anymore, we’re selling Spring items.  Bathing suits are on sale, 30% off.”  Now why would I wanna a bathing suit in February?  Maybe I could wrap the the bottoms around my hands to throw snow balls.  hmmmm.

As a mom, I value the organization that my little “to do list” slash scroll, offers me.  Laundry on Monday, Violin lessons at 3pm, buy groceries, pay the kids to find the stinky smell lingering in the car, and the list goes on.  What would you do without the list?

For whatever reason, it makes me feel ahead of the game, accomplished to be able to scratch something off that piece of paper, even though something else immediately takes its place.

I was feeling pretty good about my accomplishments, until I ran an errand the other day, and low and behold, they were selling Christmas trees in the summer.  There was a sale on decorations, pumpkins, scarecrows and holly.  Oh Dear God, it was Christmas in July.  I don’t know about you, but it took me 3 months to get over the Holidays.  From the weight gain, to the finances, to getting all the decorations and party supplies packed and put away, I sure didn’t wanna see Christmas in July.

I was just now enjoying the kids being out of school for the summer.  We were going on vacations, spending our time enjoying parks, pools and popsicles.  I finally felt relaxed, accomplished and at peace with myself – living in the moment.

No homework, no rushing around, just enjoying the present . . . until I walked into the local BoxMart and saw the Marketing Machines running:  Advertisements were everywhere:  Pick up Schools supplies now, hurry up and buy Winter Coats (they’ll be gone soon) Pumpkins are 1/2 off and bathing suits, well . . . you can’t find one now, it’s July.  Are you crazy, retail businesses are already thinking Fall & Winter.

What happened to living in the moment? It’s as if you are being set up for failure:  you can’t spin your wheels fast enough, juggle plates high enough . . . the bar continues to be set higher, the finish line placed further out.

We have to fight to live in the moment.  We have to place security around the borders of our life to keep “Peace of Mind” and Living in the Moment” protected from all the chaos this world brings.

I wanna throw out the black book that seems to direct our every footstep and keep us busier than we’ve ever been before, and embrace the small stuff, the free things, the simple things, the wind blowing leaves through the park, as you enjoy your time sitting on a bench.

Embrace those conversations with the kids over laundry, sports or cleaning up the back yard.  Kids grow up fast.  Some days it seems like Tick . . (cricket sounds). . Tock . . . and when they hit 11 and 12 years old, the hands of time won’t stop spinning.

Claim your moment now.  Live in the present.  Don’t allow the marketing machines to guide your life, rather you are the owner, the gatekeeper, the captain of your ship . . . you decide whether you’ll be throwing snow balls with the bottoms of a bathing suit or wearing ski gloves instead.  Enjoy all the moments, for the only person that can truly take away “living in the present,” is you.

 Posted by at 8:20 pm
Oct 102009

You Can Swing Over the Water Son, Just Don’t Get Wet!

Do you ever walk into a room and your husband has one of the kids by their feet, swinging them across the living room as they scream in sheer terror and excitement, while you envision pictures of stitches in the ER?  It’s something I can’t watch.

I heard a statistic once that said:  When a child sees their father, their heart rate excelerates.  When they see mom, their heart rates decreases.  Interesting.

The other day my husband knew that I needed a break, so I took off, ran a few errands, did a little shopping and had an enjoyable few hours to myself.  Upon my return, I walked in the front door and noticed the kids were playing in the ATTIC!  An unfinished attic with partial boarding on the floor and Hubby was no where to be found.

Hmmm.    My husband said:  ‘It was raining and they needed to explore.”  Well, that certainly makes since.  Why didn’t I think of that.  NOT!  Funny thing is, they rarely get hurt on his watch. It’s Amazing.

I came in one day, and on “Dad’s Watch”, found the baby asleep in the high chair in front of the TV watching VH1.  J-O-H-N!!!!!  His excuse, ” I was reading the boys a book and the baby was tired and hungry and VH1 seemed to do the trick.”  Well alrighty then.

Now I see why their heart rates go up.  It’s part fear and excitement of the unknown, of living on the edge.  They don’t know what’s in store for them, but whatever it is, with dad it is going to be exhilarating.

But when they see mom, their heart rate goes down.  Well, of course.  They get to live another day.  It’s because they know mom will give them food and a hug, not a roller coaster death drop.  They associate mom with safety and nurture.  We give them a sense of calm, keep them focused and on task.

Dad lets them fly down the stairwell on a mattress or in a box.  Often times, I want to roll them in bubble wrap before heading off to the park, where I know they’ll try something crazy and get hurt.  But then I have to remember,  kids need to explore, take risks, learn and try new things.

Opposites attract.  God knew this would be a perfect fit for our kids, to give them a sense of caution and adventure.  So, hold your breath mom, say a few prayers and break out the bubble wrap, because dad will be home soon.    Here’s to creative parenting.

 Posted by at 1:20 am
Sep 202009

Have you ever walked into a coffee shop and thought “oh, this is the best coffee ever? I bet you didn’t walk in and expect a fantastic massage or the barista to give you advice on car insurance.

It’s the same with moms, we may be good at tons of things:  homeschooling to preschooling to teaching them character and confidence, or how to kick a mean soccer ball, but we aren’t experts in everything.  It Takes a Village to pull it off.

When you watch a movie, check out the credits.  You’ve got the director, producer, editor, sound guy, technician and “Dancing man with funny looking teeth” as the crew listed to make the film a success.  One person can’t do everything.  It took a village.

Let grandpa teach them History or take them on a bug hunt, perhaps tell stories about when he was a kid; have grandma give them a baking class, let your sister take them to the park or break out the science kit.

My parents use to send me to my grandparent’s 100 acre farm for a week at a time.  We knew everything there was to bailing hay, milking the cows, shelling peas, hoe-ing a garden and what month is the best time to plant tomatoes.  Living down there was definitely an experience.  They say, the one thing that grandparents can give, over everyone else, is TIME.

We need others to help fill in the blanks.  We can’t be their entire world “forever.”  As much as we try, it’s important for us as moms and for the kids – to spread their wings, become a little more independent and well rounded.

After all, our goal is to teach them how to fly.  It’s hard to think about, letting go of the reins and putting them in someone else’s hands. When they are asleep at night, they’re growing.  When they learn something new, they’re growing.  It’s just something that can’t be stopped.  We want them to hurry and crawl, hurry and walk, are they meeting their goals . . are they on target for their age group?

Keep them as close to you, for as long as you can, but don’t smother them.  As you give them freedom and guidance, they’ll stay close, because you’ve given them the independence, the strong foundation they need to be a complete person.  They trust you and respect you.

And as you teach them to fly, it may look as though they have left the nest or got a little rebellious streak, but like a great coffee shop, they’ll be landing at the drive thru to pick up that One great product you’ve always provided, and that is the support, encouragement and love you’ve always offered and they will always need.  It Takes a Village, Girls . . . and an occasional cup of coffee.    Here’s to great families!!!

 Posted by at 11:45 pm
Sep 162009


Would YOU want YOU to be YOUR mom? Simple isn’t it?  Just think about how you handle situations.  Are you easily angered, always in a hurry; do little things escalate to major things? Get on their level, eye to eye, knee to knee and imagine what it must be like, to have you, as your mom.

Do the attitudes, ideas and environment you provide, exude respect, trust and peace in your home or anxiety, perfectionism and unpredictability.

I know that if my husband goes out of town and I have all 4 kids all week, from sunrise to sunset, my patience can wain, quickly.  I’m barking orders like a well trained drill sergeant, go here, get those teeth brushed, hurry up, let’s go.

When my 3 year old went to bed at night, I noticed he was sleeping on the floor.  I would tell him to get in the bed.  He would wait till I left and get back on the floor.  At first, it made me mad.  How could he get a good night’s sleep on the floor?  How comfortable could this be?  My back would be stiff for days.  Besides, he had a nice bed we bought him and he needed to sleep in it.

Then I sat down and had a nice conversation with him and realized, in his own way, he thought sleeping on the floor was like camping, it was an adventure.  Now that I realize what he was doing, I let him drag his big comforter and pillow to the floor and let him “go camping.” .  I sure didn’t want to stand in the way of any adventures he may have.

So when you’re on your last leg and can’t take it anymore, perhaps you should take a break.  This isn’t unusual.  It’s good for everyone to get a break.  No need to be a martyr.  Do you take time to smell the roses, look for bugs and laugh with your kids about funny jokes they TRY to make?  Lay on the floor and giggle, go push them on the swing or take time to play dodge ball.

Imagine looking up at you. How do you want this to play out?  The house doesn’t always have to be clean.  The laundry doesn’t have to be put away Right Now.  If Petee left his shoes outside, we’ll get them later.  Perhaps tonight is a “take out” night.

Go to the park, have a picnic on the blanket and forget about the laundry for awhile?  Do you take time for yourself by designating a “Girls Night Out” or take a night a week to play tennis with your husband.  Everyone needs a break to re-access, rejuvenate and refresh your mind, body and spirit.  It makes for better parenting and happier families.

 Posted by at 6:00 am
Sep 092009

My 7 year old was listing all the friends he had.  He was telling me about the kid in his class from Vietnam, or about Freddie who went to London with his parents and the list went on.

When he left, my 3 year old asked:  Mom, do I have fwends?  I said yes and listed the names of little kids in our neighborhood.  He said:  “Oh good!”  He trusted that I knew he was ok.  It was so sweet how he looked to me to determine if he was valued, loved and established.  Of course he was.  It’s funny to hear the ideas, concerns and perspectives little children have.

It’s our job to remove those little insecurities and reinforce a sense of belonging and being apart of Community.

What is your son or daughter concerned about?  Talk about it on a one on one, fun bike ride or walk in the park.  Keep Communication flowing and frequent.  With chaos in the day, opportunities do not always present themselves.  You have to invest the time and when you do, those concerns will rise to the top and can be easily dealt with.

Concerns don’t always come in the form of a “knock on your door.” Set the stage for good communication.  It might be a warm cookie and a hug when they come home from school, stacking legos on the floor or just a quiet walk down the street.  Some kids wear their heart on their sleeve and can open up in 2 seconds to discuss a concern or problem; others are like slow cookers.  If you spend enough time and build their trust, they’ll mention their concerns around bedtime in the quiet of the evening.

Each child is different.  Keep your eyes and ears open.  The world is full of people ready to tear down your child’s self esteem.   School, “so called friends” and the world in general, can be a harsh place at times.  Building self esteem is not an overnight fix, it’s a journey.

I tell my kids: “You’re my blessing or You make my heart feel good” and now they tell me I make their heart feel good.  They need to know that mom, dad, and siblings have their back.  It’s All for One and One for All!

Tell us how you handle building self esteem.  We’d love to hear your story.

 Posted by at 1:17 am
Aug 292009

When I was a kid, no matter how many fun things we got to do, it was never enough.  The moment it was over, I was thinking, “What’s next?”  Typical of a kid, right?

My dad was a Marine and Community Boy Scout leader.  If you weren’t up by 7am, the day was wasted.  The one phrase you NEVER said around my dad was “I’M BORED.”

If you didn’t grab OPPORTUNITY by the HORNS and find something to do, once that complaint was made, he was gonna Plan your day for you.

We lived on the lake. Our day consisted of a few daily chores, lots of swimming, trampoline jumping and biking to our heart’s content.  One time, my sister and I could not stop fighting and complaining – there was nothing to do.  We were hollering “She’s looking at me!” Stop repeating everything I say!” and the list went on.  Then one of us uttered the life changing phrase:  I’m bored!

Next thing I know, he had made provisions for a TRUCK LOAD OF BRICKS to be dropped along the side of the house.  I mean, a TRUCK Load.  We were looking out the window like . . . What’s that for?  It was a special delivery, just for us. . . Our job was to Move all the bricks from one side of the house to the other!!  And when we were done . . . (like Forrest Gump said) . . . we had to move ’em BACK!  I tell ya, if that won’t fix a squabble and bordem, I don’t know what will.

I learned TEAM BUILDING that day.  I also learned Never to say:  I”M BORED.  It made quiet the impression on me.  To this day, I cannot utter the words:  I AM BORED.  I use to think how terrible it was that my dad would do something like this, until I had kids of my own.

And now, on days when I hear them pitching a fit in the back yard, fighting over a rock, because they can’t get along or there’s nothing to do in the backyard full of every toy, playground equipment and tire swing known to mankind, I think about calling Home Depot and having a truck load of bricks delivered.  : )

 Posted by at 1:27 pm