Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Mom of teens reflects on her 'if onlys'

Posted July 13, 2010

I can remember when my girls were babies. One adored the baby swing and would have joyfully lived her life in it. The other hated it and would grab the legs to shake herself free.

Now that my babies are 15 and 13, I'm reflective on things I would have done differently.

Knowing what I know now, here's what I would have changed:

What modesty is: When the girls and I shop, we spend time in the Juniors section. I want to ask designers if they know what modesty is. If I had realized how strongly media would encourage my daughters to flaunt their bodies, I would have spent more time pointing out the merits of modesty. I wish I had been more consistent about pointing out women who looked gorgeous, but not at the expense of modesty and self-respect. I have tried to model it with my own attire. However, when shopping, my girls don't have many options that appeal to mom and daughter.

Changes in middle school: Having attended a school with kindergarten through eighth grade, I never experienced middle school like my girls did. With no personal experience to draw from, I felt ill-equipped to handle the changes they each dealt with when they entered middle school. I wish I had talked to other moms who'd lived through it for information and wisdom. What a difference it might have made for us if I had engaged my girls in more open-ended questions. I could have mined for clues about what was going with them so I could better encourage, redirect and pray as needed.

Loyalty to friends: Speaking of middle school, if I had known how fiercely loyal they'd be to friends who lead them down wrong paths, I would have talked more in-depth about how to choose a good friend. I wish I had shared more stories of my own poor friend choices and the consequences those friendships brought. Maybe they would have caught a glimpse of themselves in my stories. I also wish I had more quickly taken my own mom's sage advice to criticize the friend less and pray more for my daughters' eyes to be opened.

My girls are only in high school, so there's still time for me to mother them. Each day I've tried to use the lessons I've learned to parent better. The one thing that I have no regrets or “if onlys” about is that I love my daughters fiercely.

That's one thing I don't need hindsight to get right!

Marietta Taylor, 44, is the mom of two girls ages 15 and 13 and has been married for 17 years. The family moved from Chicago to Raleigh in 2003. The first few years were a wild ride and were the inspiration for her first book, "Surviving Unemployment Devotions To Go!" Read more about Mari on her blog and website.


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  • Dr D Jul 15, 2010

    It's midway thru summer already, but here's an idea that worked well for our daughters in the summers when they were in the 11-14 year old range. By this age they felt they were too old for summer camps, we weren't comfortable leaving them home alone (especially together), and they wanted a summer job as a babysitter but were young and had no paid experience. So we put out flyers seeking positions as Mother's Helper to stay-at-home moms with young children, which was a winning arrangement for all. Our dtrs gained valuable childcare experience with on-the-job training, the moms gained a volunteer helper for the summer, and we no longer had to pay for summer camps that our dtrs no longer wished to attend. By the end of each of their first summers, our dtrs were deemed ready by the moms to begin leaving them solo with their child(ren) while running errands, during which time they paid them as babysitters. Later these Moms also provided great babysitting references for our daughters.

  • Reader Jul 15, 2010

    Fourteen and 15 year olds can often volunteer as junior staff at summer programs for younger children. Its good experience with helping others, and a way to keep young teens occupied and out of trouble. This would still require you to provide transportation, but many programs are all day, so transport is not during parent work hours. Check out Vacation Bible Schools, YMCA, or Boys and Girls Club day camp or fitness programs.

  • no taco p Jul 14, 2010

    I wish I had some experience to draw from. I lost my wife and children’s mother when they were 7(boy) and 4(girl). Now they are 14 and 11, and I see too much of myself in my 11 year old daughter, NOT A GOOD SIGN I think. I like reading these so I can have some sort of idea as to what to expect.

  • mtaylor918 Jul 14, 2010

    Hi! Thanks to everyone for your comments. I'll definitely check out Old Navy this weekend. School starts for my girls on July 26th so we'll start the shopping drama this weekend.

    I agree that I'd love to see more parenting resources available for tweens and teens. That's a book market I think is under saturated.

    I do want to address the one comment about leaving out my husband. This is a mom's blog, so I specifically spoke to a mom's experience. My husband is very much in the picture, as he has been for the 17 years of our marriage. He loved this post so I'm good with what I wrote.

    Anyway, blessings to you all! Hang in there if you've got teens and get ready if that stage is yet to come. Hopefully something I shared will help.

  • asdfg Jul 14, 2010

    Mugu, I just can't think of a response to your comment that would be allowed on here.

    I have a 14 year old and everything written rings true. It is nice to know others face the same issues I do. It's also nice that someone is writing about this age group. There are so many parenting books, magazines, blogs, and websites targeted towards parenting younger children and so little about the middle and high school age group. My biggest challenge at the moment is how to keep her busy and out of trouble until school starts back at the end of August. She's too young to get a job, too old for daycare, my husband and I both work so we can't shuttle her around to different activities all day. Even the local community center has activities for ages 13 and under or for 16 and up but hardly anything for the 14 and 15 year olds.

  • carlawilliams07 Jul 14, 2010

    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and candor. If more moms were like you, the world would be a much better and beautiful - both inside and out! Congrats on the blog success!

  • missparrothead Jul 14, 2010

    Thx for your words of wisdom. I have a 7 yr old daughter and 10 yr old son(middle school next summer) and cringe over the middle school peer pressure mounting, etc. We're just trying to build strong relationships w/our children being active in their lives and pray that they will develop into healthy, responsible, successful adults.

  • Reader Jul 14, 2010

    Oh, yes - a great resource for prom dresses that aren't "hootchie mama" styles is to check out brides' maids' dresses.

  • Reader Jul 14, 2010

    Gingerlynn, I'm with you on the boys' clothes! I love my hand-me-downs from my 15-year-old sons! LOL! Land's End and Old Navy are also life-savers. Both my girls (17 and 19) buy most of their clothes from these two stores. Avoid Abercrombie like the plague, or buy two sizes larger than you think will fit.

    All my kids are high school or college age now, and I agree completely that middle school is critical to getting kids going on the right path. Friend selection is a deal-maker or -breaker. My suggestion - sign them up for band and church youth group so they will have a pool of acceptable kids to choose from. Take honors level classes, too, if at all feasible, to put them in touch with more motivated potential friends.

  • gingerlynn Jul 14, 2010

    My 17 year old daughter routinely buys boys tshirts and shorts because she finds the options for high school girls "hoish" (her words) and the ladies clothes are either too big (she is a size 1) or they look like something I would wear. It is too bad the only way she can get shorts a decent length and tops that are not too tight is too look at about a size 14 boys and keep trying things on. Finding a prom dress that didnt just barely cover her backside or was not slit up to past mid thigh was a nightmare. And I am not a prude. But really, should you have to advertise to be considered attractive?