Never say "Later?"

In the teen years, when we're lucky to get a full sentence, never mind a paragraph out of our teenagers about what is on their mind, it is so important for us to remember this one line: never say "Later?" What do I mean by that?  Say our teen has come home from school, or more than likely, some sports scrimmage  or cheerleading practice and unloads their backpack on a kitchen chair with an exhausted and emotion-laden sigh and makes the statement, "Hey Mom, can I ask you something?"  Now we're right in the middle of getting a souffle into the oven, and you know how souffles are...finicky and fickle and ready to flop any moment (am I right? Have I ever made a souffle?  Are you kidding?)

Anyway, we need to drop everything.  No, I mean it~ Drop everything, sit on another available chair, look our teen right in the eye and say, "You bet!" You know why? Those years are full of challenges and emotions and hormones flying every which way, and relationship dramas! (especially for the girls with their girlfriends, and the young men with potential girlfriends... notice what I said there: girls with girls and guys with girls~ there's always drama when a girl is involved...not so much with the guys.  More on that later!)

So, we need to pounce! Pounce on the opportunity ~ it's an open door our teen has just flung wide for rare communication which will allow us to take their pulse, find out details about their life right now and allow us to speak wisdom, truth, and love into their souls.  They need us to weigh in on the intricacies of relationships, on dealing with the opposite sex, on decisions that they have to make regarding the navigation of turbulent waters throughout their high school years...we mustn't, I mean it, MUST NOT blow it!

The worst thing I can say at this moment is..."Not now honey, I just have to finish this up and get my souffle into the oven so it will turn out perfectly for dinner with the WAERPIHADLJK's!"

Do we see what has happened?  Immediately, if not sooner, our teen will turn on their heel and disappear to their room, without so much as another peep.  We have slammed the door on their invitation for discourse, on our rare opportunity to find out what is happening in their head, heart and life...we have shifted the focus to "later" and you can bet there won't be a "later"!  We have made our priorities more important...the perfect souffle for a dinner with friends, over something that could be monumental and intimately personal for our son or daughter.  We have put our own needs and desires ahead of theirs when they needed us to take the time to listen.

We've all been there...we've all done that! Let's become more aware of and tuned into the fleeting chance to touch their lives with our mother-hearts.  They need to feel deep in their soul that we care and are there for them, always, with a souffle in the oven or not!

Ann Van De Water

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