Living with Joy as our Teens come home for Christmas.
This weekend it looked like everywhere I went to, someone was talking about joy. And not just the joy of laughter but deep hearted joy that perseveres despite our circumstances. I was particularly joyful not only because my teen will be back home for Christmas but that we get to go back to our original home to spend Christmas with our extended family.
As our teens come home for Christmas we are filled with so much anticipation and some anxiety I must admit. I’ve already been warned not to ask “soooo many questions.” I was in church last week when I observed a young toddler wrap his arms around his mom’s neck and I just missed the time when my kids were young and I could just scoop them up in my arms. How quickly the time flies, and how quickly our babies become teens.
As our teens grow older we have to learn different ways of bringing joy back into Christmas, and into our lives in general.
1. Give them their space.
I must admit, I’m one of the moms who wants to have her children around talking and laughing and sharing everything, just like the old times. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work that way. Learn to give your teens some space. Yes there are times when they will sit and chat and watch TV with you, but they also want to chat with their friends sometimes without you being in the middle of the conversation, and that is okay. I had a friend who always sat in whenever her kids’ friends visited. She really was a cool mom but after a while her teens resented the fact that they could never interact with their friends without their mom being there all the time. When this happens, your teen starts hanging out elsewhere and then you really don’t know what is going on. I know it really is hard to let go but we all have to learn to give them some space. Your times together will be more precious and meaningful.
2. Stay involved
This sounds like a contradiction, but it really isn’t. Being involved means showing them that you care. The times when our teens talk to us are sometimes few and far between so when they do decide to open up, take the time to listen and interact with them and show genuine interest. I find that cooking a favorite meal is a great conversation starter. Doing the things they love are met with “Ohs and Ahs and remember when ….” And before long everyone is laughing and talking. I love those times when we all sit around and reminisce and it really is not that hard to recreate those times. Give them some space but know what your teens are up to. Show some interest in their lives, and they will reciprocate by talking to you.
3. Keep your family traditions
Never think that your teens are too old to keep the family traditions. It keeps them grounded and it makes them feel loved. As much as our teens try to pull away from us, they still appreciate the familiarity and joy of Christmas. It gives them a sense of belonging and security. I enjoy listening to people talk about their family traditions. There is always animation and a sense of awe, when they recount what they do for Christmas. Explain to your teens why you have these traditions. Keeping your family tradition is really worth the joy that it brings.
4. Remember the best part.
To me, the best part is actually being joyful about what Christmas is all about in the first place. The birth of our Lord and Savior. I know there are times when our teens don’t want to have anything to do with worship and going to church and actually celebrating our Savior’s birth. Don’t lose hope. Be joyful and keep praying. Our youth minister once told me, when I complained to him about my kids not wanting to go to church, that I need to talk more to God about my kids than I talk to my kids about God. Best advise I’ve ever been given. After all isn’t that what Christmas is about? That we have a Savior who was born to save us. Rejoice, he will not forget your teens. Remember he loves them perhaps even more than you do. When your teens see how joyful you are about Christmas, and our Savior’s birth, they will want what you have.
So this Christmas, as our teens come home for the holidays, let’s decide to make it a joy-filled season. Bring the joy back home by welcoming your teens with open arms. Remember to listen and stay involved, but do give them some space. Celebrate your family traditions and involve your teens and tell them why you have those traditions. Rejoice always and tell them about the wonder and joy of the Savior’s birth and open your hearts and worship and enjoy your Christmas carols.
Open your heart to receive the joy and wonder of Christmas. May you have days be filled with laughter and memories of another glorious Christmas spent with your family.