I know the word “tribe” is a popular term at the moment and being bashed to death. I’m 14.10 years into the raising of our boys and have always drawn on advice from my mum, my sisters, my hubby’s family, friends, teachers and principals, other mothers. It’s become very apparent over the last few days or even weeks really with the rising of the boys that I need this tribe.
Families need a clan in their lives. It’s not just when they’re babies and you know you’re tired and you need someone to hold the baby while you shower or pee, no mothers with teenagers need someone too. There’s my mum who has a subtle way of chatting or giving advice, you know she rubs their hand or I’ll see her occasionally give a cuddle and she’ll whisper something in their ear and it might not be a full on lecture or a rant but might be just a few words that really stick. The boys are comfortable in opening up to her a lot. They will tell her things that don’t tell me. My Dad, he’s a quiet man, he doesn’t say much but has strong opinions, in saying that the boys respect him immensely and a happy to have a chat to him about anything.
My sister posted my first born son a letter that was about life and how at 14 you don’t need to know everything, you are not expected to know exactly what you want to do in your life. Just like your Mum at 37 doesn’t know what she wants to do, but attitude is everything and to try, take every opportunity and make the most of it. For me at the moment, the letter from my sister meant everything. I balled my eyes out when I read it a few days after my son received it and asked me to read it when he was at school. We went to holiday with her, on her family property on the school holidays, and my eldest was lumped with the dishes of 11 people one night (he had other help but he kept being ridiculous, so he was left with about a quarter). He refused to stop being silly and do the job, I went and stood in the kitchen and he got worse. My brother in law walked in, stood at the bench and flicked through his phone, sending me outside to have a wine and watch the sun set with my mum, sister and cousin. The dishes were done perfectly in record time and not a single complaint. My eldest worships at my brother in law’s feet and would never want to disappoint him. My youngest sister and her family have the same comfortable relationship with my boys they will talk to them about everything. We have always lived by a “no secrets in this family” policy, the boys are comfortable sharing everything with my sisters and parents.
I was driving to school a few weeks ago and my eldest boy had a history exam, I was on the phone to my best friend and she was offering him words of wisdom for his exam. Remember dates, places, and names. It was a small conversation but for me at the moment those small moments have a huge effect.
Recently my cousin has come back into my life and even though the boys haven’t seen her in years they are comfortable with her and feel comfortable chatting to her and asking advice.
It’s not even just in raising kids you need a tribe to bounce ideas off. Some of my most joyous moments are sitting having a coffee with a friend or my mum and my sister and talking about what’s going on, what they have to say and how that can change my mind set or how I look at a situation.
I refuse to let my family get bogged down in screens and social media – that actually does nothing for you socially. We need a lot of people in our lives that have deep connections with. That are respected and we are accountable to and have a deep love for. You can have lots of people in your life, but they might not mean anything, but I think that it’s important for kids to know that they don’t have to just only tell their parents everything. I want them to know if they need to have a chat to someone else, they have family (some who are not blood) to share with.
I read an article and it was 15 ways to help a new mother and I’ve been thinking about writing a blog post for 15 ways of helping mothers with teenagers because it’s not just mother’s with newborn babies that need help. However, I hate lists and glaze over at reading them if it’s too long. So here is my top 5 ways to help a mother of teenagers out.
- Suggest meeting for coffee. (Depending on the day this could progress to wine and escalate to tequila.)
- Don’t talk about the kids, there are billions of subjects to talk about. When a mum with teenage kids is having to deal with teenager hormones, attitude and opinions at home. Find something else to talk about when you see her or chat on the phone. Don’t mention the kids, give her a break.
- If she needs to talk about it, let her vent, let her get it all out, rant, rave. If you have useful advice share it otherwise, sit and listen. (Perhaps pass her another glass of wine.)
- Take her out. If she has teenagers she is running around after them, with sport, or work, 1 million other commitments. Take her out and do something that makes her heart happy. She will then come home refreshed and energised to love her kids.
- Don’t talk to mum at all, build up a relationship with the kid. If you are close enough to the family reach out to the kid. Send them a text saying Hi. If you are visiting sit and have a conversation with the kid.