People used to tell me "Just wait until they are all teenagers, you won't be smiling no more!!!"
I'm still Smiling!
I have currently have nine kids ages 13 and up! Each one has been a JOY to me.
We just don't have much of the typical rebellion and drama. It's mostly fun! Why???
We took them to live in countries where they saw a lot of poverty, conflict, loss, orphans and need. They have seen the world and they know how blessed they are. They grew up serving others.
They grew up Industrious. They homeschool with a focus on their career goals.
The focus of teen years is VERY meaningful.
During teen years we invest in their first business. They are producing something of value, they have purpose, they have income, losses, prosperity, taxes, and make mistakes. They are welcome to make mistakes.
#3 Family Meals
We have meals together. We have wonderful conversations. Every meal we ask a "Family Question" like the questions I always ask on Facebook. Every child gets to have a turn answering. Each child has a voice, an opinion, an answer. They are heard.
They are all responsible for major roles around the house.
They are serious contributors to the home running smoothly. If they don't contribute no one steps in and the results have a negative impact. (For Example - if a teenager is supposed to make breakfast, and they don't, there is no breakfast. Every child attacks the kitchen and makes their own, along with the mess of 15 people fending for themselves. That teen has to clean up a huge mess and it's their fault.)
#5 Independence and Freedom
I don't usually tell them when to wake up r when to go to bed as teens. I do expect EVERYONE to be at breakfast at 9am.
I don't tell them what to wear. I say "yes" whenever possible. Most of them are up before me reading their bibles, chatting, having coffee and getting started on cooking or projects or pet care.
#6 Sibling Bond
They have each other for best friends. I'm glad I had kids close in age. They don't need to seek close friendships with children with different morals as young children.
My girls act exactly like the sisters in Little Women, and we all just have a blessed and meaningful life.
#7 Parent Control of Technology
They don't have phones until their business needs it and can fund it. WiFi goes off in the house at 8pm and comes on at 8am. We have filters on our internet and devices to protect their innocence. We do care about what music and media they engage in. We do have rules about that.
#8 Relevant Education
I don't make them waste time on high school level school work that is not actually relevant to their career choices. Their high school learning is much more focused on their "majors" and they have a SKILL oriented education, not a "general knowledge" focus.
My teens probably see themselves as adults, because I respect them to live as an equal in the home, they all do more housework than me.
Sometimes ministry leaders complain about my children for acting like little adults, and for being "disrespectful" or doing things their own way in Sunday School. My kids are usually bored by typical Sunday School classes, and end up sitting with us in the adult service. My kids question authority, because at home they are allowed to speak their minds. Some people think my kids are rude. Sorry.
#10 Solid Foundation
Our biological kids have grown up in a stable loving family. They don't have trauma issues.
It was only in the case of one adopted teen was there much trouble. I have two other adopted teenagers who are doing awesome, and are just like the biological kids in their behavior.
We had a lot of trouble when we adopted a 16 year-old, who had deep trauma.
It took 2 and a half years of unconditional love, and a surprise pregnancy, for her to decide to be one of the "Brown Girls" but now she is living at home and is learning to be one of us. She's doing well.
#11 Don't focus on mistakes.
The struggles are small in my home with the kids, most problems are handled and resolved in a day, usually in minutes.
Many parents make a big deal out of the small stuff. We are actually okay with kids making mistakes.
Even with schoolwork, mistakes are not the focus of learning. Learning is a joy. Most homeschooling parents and teachers focus on what a child is doing WRONG and that makes kids miserable when it comes to learning. We focus on making sure the kids learn skills, and look for progress not perfection.
#12 They Love God
I asked my girls this morning why they don't do all the stupid rebellious stuff most teens do. My daughter Esther quickly replied "We actually LOVE GOD. And you raised is right. And we are never bored."
They love God. My husband teaches the Bible to the children's almost every morning. Good seeds are planted. I am a pretty good example to my girls about what a woman of faith should be, but I'm not perfect.