Things I wish I had done differently before my child became a teen

Since I only have one child and only one chance at raising him, I find myself reflecting on my parenting practices and experiencing a pang of regret from time to time. I am pretty aware that I could have done better or have done more or less. My child is 22 years old, and I try not to focus on the past since I cannot alter what has happened, and I believe I mostly did my best.

I have spoken to other parents who have shared their thoughts on what they might have done differently. I like the conversation because it helps me to assist other mothers. Someone else may benefit from my mistakes and perhaps avoid a lot of heartaches.  Here are a few things that I wish I had done differently before my child became a teenager.  I hope this is of use to someone.

Make an effort to be more present

This may seem to be the most cliché of the lot, but I do not mean to be more present as if I were not there; instead, I mean to be more present in the current moment. In retrospect, I wish I had spent more time enjoying the moment.  Looking back at his photos when he was younger, I am sad that I was not always as enthusiastic about being in the moment.  I was always concerned about my responsibilities and trying to ensure that he had what he needed.

As a single mother, it was more important to me to attempt to provide him with everything I never had growing up. I did not realize that what he needed was not more “stuff,” but he needed more than anything was more of God. My main goal as a teen mother was to show everyone, including myself, that I could be a great mother, regardless.  In the past, I wish I had a relationship with God in the same manner that I have now because it would have helped me understand that I did not have to do it alone and that God would provide if I sought him first rather than trying to do things on my own and on my terms.

Demonstrate more emotion

That is correct; I wish I had shown more emotion.  As most parents do, I attempted to alter course in areas where I felt my mom had erred in her judgment. The difficulty is that when we try to be the polar opposite of our parents, we might go to extremes and make errors on the other end of the spectrum. That is a little bit of what I did while my son was growing up. I grew up with a mother who was quite depressed and withdrawn. In each given setting, her emotional reactions were vastly different, resulting in sadness and, I suspect, mental health challenges related to her difficulty in controlling her emotions.

My goal has always been to provide my child with the experience of having an emotionally stable parent. This meant that when I was upset, I cried behind closed doors and basically shielded my son from seeing my vulnerable feelings as much as possible.

These are just a few of the things I could have done better. I do not believe the damage is beyond repair. I wish I had a better solution for this on the front end rather than patch things later on down the road. The Scripture says, “all things work together for the good of them that love the Lord and are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). I must see everything, even areas where I believe I erred as a parent and might have done better as a parent, through the lens of Romans 8:28. I will never be able to turn back the hands of time, and the Devil, not God, is the source of condemnation.  If I can assist another parent in their path by learning from my mistakes, I believe that I will find some amount of peace.

Author: Kim Petitt

Kim Petitt holds a graduate degree in psychology. She holds a bachelors in communication and a associates degree in business administration with a concentration in office management. She is the mother of a twenty + year old male.

The journey of motherhood for Kim is quite unique being that she was a teen mom and living with a physical disability. The challenges she faced caused her emotional pain and loneliness, but because of her faith and relationship with God she didn’t give up and continues to overcome through Christ. Her heart’s desire is to reach out to teenage girls  and young moms and women from all walks of life to teach them how to overcome their own personal challenges that keep them from loving God and themselves.
You can connect with kim by visiting her blog @kimpetitt09

What can you do when your child’s words and behavior communicate: “I reject you, your values, and your God?” In this plan, Kim Petitt shares scriptures for navigating seasons of rupture in parent-child relationships. You will learn how to keep hope alive while you wait for reconciliation and your child’s return to God.

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