A huge part of who I am comes from those four little beings who made me a mother. My children are the ones who light my soul ablaze and open my heart to the biggest kind of love. Despite all the rewards of motherhood, it surely has its challenges, and sometimes I need to check in with my kids to make sure they’re happy, healthy—and with all the craziness going on right now—doing okay.
Between the endless activities, runny noses, homeschool lessons, and trying to make sure they eat their veggies, sometimes I end up just laying in bed at night wondering if I’m doing anything right. Did I ask them how they were feeling? Did I make them feel loved? Did I miss something?
Do you ever feel like that? The struggle is real!
Children seem to develop best when they have consistent contact with at least three supportive and loving adult influences throughout their life. Positive family, friends, and community bonds are extremely important to a child’s success.
Every Baby Grows Up
It was so easy when they were itty bitty babies in my arms—I could just hold them tight and keep them safe, sweetly nuzzled against me (oh my goodness, they smelled so good!). Now, my adventurous crew is out there in the real world navigating so much on their own and, sometimes, I feel like I’m on the outside looking in.
Does seeing them grow up get any easier? I doubt it.
Still, it’s really important to check in from time to time, and make sure everything’s alright. I’m not looking to be that mother, you know, the “Helicopter Mom,” but I’m from New York—I’ll find a way to nudge my way into the conversation when I need to! It’s a scary world out there, especially now, and nothing matters to me more than making sure my babies are okay. This is no time to be shy! If you’ve ever found yourself wondering how to check in with your own kids, here are some ideas.
How To Talk To Your Grade-School Sweethearts
Ah, the elementary school years. Do you remember those days? Life seemed so simple back then. We played on the playground, ate peanut butter sandwiches, and passed out during sleepovers by the time the cable stopped airing. Oh, the simplicity!
Of course, times have changed and life for our grade-school kids has become a lot tougher—especially since they’ve been homeschooling, miss their friends, and may not understand everything that’s going on right now. Which is why you gotta get in there and find out how they’re feeling!
A word of caution, though—kids this age can say some crazy things, so don’t get caught off guard! If you seem uncomfortable or reluctant to talk about something, they’re going to wonder what’s wrong. The last thing you want to do is shut down the conversation. Keep those lines of communication open so that they can feel like they can come to you, well, for the rest of their lives. You’re in it for the long haul, mamas (and papas) and this is just the beginning!
“Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.” — Oprah Winfrey
How To Talk To Your Tumultuous Tweens
Those middle school years can be absolutely brutal, am I right? Your body is changing (hello, greasy hair and pimples!), school gets tougher and relationships become really complicated. There’s this feeling of still wanting to be a little kid, but also yearning to grow up. Ugh, there’s so much going on!
I’ve found that finding a common ground with kids this age really helps. Ask about their favorite shows, games, subjects, or sports—and then really listen. Get to know their friends, remember their names and connect with their parents (exchange numbers so they can keep you in the loop on the down-low!). And yes, it’s okay to eavesdrop a little when they’re having a gossip sesh…just make sure you’re extra covert about it!
How To Talk To Your Amazing Teens
Teens get a pretty bad rep, so it’s no surprise that parents approach these years with dread. Here’s my best advice—stop being scared of your teenager! Yes, they can be moody and messy, but if we guide them and give them space, it’s so amazing to see how they blossom. Try your best to enjoy it!
There’s tons of pressure on kids this age. They’re trying to decide what they want to do with the rest of their lives. They’re navigating their sexuality and maturing relationships. They might even be juggling work and school. Plus they probably have a better understanding of all the issues facing us right now. And they’re just trying to figure out how to cope.
Additionally, for the first time in their lives, they are really learning about responsibility and independence, which can be hard as hell (even for us adults)! That’s why it’s so important to find a way to check in with your kids (even your older teens) and let them know you’re there when they need you. (Even when they think they don’t!)
A child’s brain may be at its full physical size by the time they reach kindergarten, but brain development doesn’t slow down until their 20s.
Be Sure You Are Listening To Your Teens
We can all remember being nagged at this age, so you already know that it doesn’t work. Your teen is old enough to have deep, meaningful conversations. They have their own life experiences and their own opinions—and watch out, those opinions might differ wildly from your own! Respect them, and be sure to avoid belittling or downplaying their fears, dreams and experiences.
Get to know the adult they are becoming by doing some weekly thing that you both enjoy. Go grab takeout, take a drive, or even play video games. Just find some way—any way—to connect and listen. Always listen. These moments are the ones they’ll look back on, and you want to leave them with positivity.
“When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.”—Nora Ephron
When It’s Hard to Check-In With Your Kids
Keeping tabs on your kids, whether you’ve got one or a house full, is hard work. They may try to push you away, but never give up and never judge. I’m getting emotional just writing about this (one day all my littles will be out the door and it’ll just be me, Bobby, and empty rooms!), but remember, any one of us can find ourselves struggling to keep our head above water.
Be a safe place where your child can land. Be the lifeboat, the anchor and the shore. Whether they’re three or 33, let them know that, together, you can navigate life’s choppy waters.
“The thing about parenting rules is there aren’t any. That’s what makes it so difficult.” — Ewan McGregor