Where Did My Baby Go? 4 Ways to Deal with Raising Teens..and Still Love Them

What happened to my baby

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One precious day you hold your beautiful, sweet baby.  It seems like just a few days down the road, and this sweet baby is gone.  He doesn’t want you to talk to him and really doesn’t want to be in the same room with you.  Every now and again, you see a faint hint of that sweet baby boy when he has faced disappointment and really needs you.  The next thing you know it’s Jekyll and Hyde, and he’s back to being the monster who invaded your home. 

Why, you ask, is my baby acting like this?  What did I do wrong? 

Short answer:  your baby is going through the greatest growth spurt in his life since infancy.  However, this time it is not just physical growth.  He is growing at an extremely quick rate in the following areas as well:  emotional, social, and intellectual.  This is what makes teens “weird;” they struggle with dealing with all of these changes that are lumped onto them at one time. It’s easy for you to see the physical changes.  These other changes, however, are of the mind and therefore abstract to the human eye.

Pull up your granny panties, mom, for this will be a struggle for a few years!

Here are some solid tips to make your life easier during this years and to make it easier to love your baby, as you raise your teen:

1.         Goal Setting—

Teach your child to set goals.  Part of intellectual growth during the teen years is the deeper development of abstract thought.  Laymen’s terms…they have the ability to think deeper…farther beyond today.   Often, their selfishness makes it appear they cannot.  Try them out. 

I remember when my son and daughter were in middle school.  One day we were in the car, and they were arguing.  I made them each stop and write down their goals for life.  For them, at that moment, it was a competition.  However, they really thought this out.  Naturally, some of their goals were silly; that’s par for the course with teens, especially younger teens.  However, this beginning conversation on goals set the stage for these two to set attainable goals in the future.  It focused their energy on something positive!  And it has given them a life skill that will make them successful adults.

2.       Talks—

When your teen is acting like a monster, it makes them hard to be around.  However, this is that same sweet baby who learned to walk, talk, potty, read, ride a bike….  They just have bigger problems.  This is where the emotional comes into play.  This is when they need you to really listen and offer tidbits of advice.

The big “P”, puberty, comes into the lives of teens and often creates chaos in their lives.  I’m in my 40’s and still have emotional issues during that time of the month.   This emotional change in teens is confusing to them and often makes them irrational.  I can usually tell when my daughter is about to start.  Same old classic symptoms.  And boys aren’t immune to these changes.  Life, though, has taught boys to be macho, and when they feel emotions creep up, it is often hard for them to handle it. 

Offering tidbits of advice is not a lecture.  Have you ever sat in a college lecture?  After some point in time, the words can blur together.  Same goes with lectures with a teen.  Give them tidbits…just enough to sink in.  Talk to them, but most of all, listen to them.  Don’t get so busy in your life that you aren’t listening to your teens. I know they are difficult to be around, but listen to them.

3.       Encouragement—

Part of life is risk-taking.   You only want to see your teen taking part in positive risks.  Believe me, there are more negative risks than you know out there for our teens, risks that we don’t even see and cannot fathom.  The digital age has created these.

Encourage your teen to be brave and take positive risks to better himself.  Currently, my son, a junior in high school, is going through the college search.  He is an extremely accomplished wrestler, competing year-round.  However, he shows signs of fear of his college career.  I helped him get in touch with several college wrestling coaches, showing him that he is doing the work, and can do this.  Sometimes, although a teen has deeper intellectual thought, you have to put things in front of them.  My mother-in-law used to say, “put your finger on it.”  Same idea.  Now, he is studying for the SAT, preparing for college visits, looking at pros and cons of different colleges. 

Remember, in a short time, your teen will be an adult.  Encouragement of an adult is much different than that of a small child.  Same goes for a teen.  It’s not about lollipops and stickers.  Although every now and again a Dr. Pepper helps my boy.  The encouragement holds different forms at this age.

4.       Consistency—

Have you ever gotten so busy at work and with life that you don’t make time for the simple things?  Teens, just like infants, toddlers, and small kids, need consistency.  Heck, adults do too!  Not all things in life need to be planned.  Spontaneity can be an awesome thing!  How you love your teen, how you talk with and encourage your teen, and how you groom them into awesome adults must be consistent. 

In our home, a rule is a rule.  And rules must be obeyed.  Reality….everyone has rules to follow.  Even the boss has to follow federal and state laws.  Same goes for teens.  Don’t set rules that you are unwilling to enforce.  Be consistent with all your kids.  If one has chores, all should have chores.  If one pays for a car, the others should as well.  You are the first example to your teen of how parents should be.  Lead your teen, who will be, before you know it, an adult, a spouse, and a parent. 

No matter how tough the road gets, stick to these tips with your teen, and in the end, you will be pleasantly surprised.  Remember, your teen can do lots of things now, but he is not an adult yet, and still needs you!  Don’t let him down!

All the best,


Song of Sapelo Sunset





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6 Tools to Help Your College Child Thrive


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My oldest son has been married and has lived in New England for years, but this year I lost another child to adulthood.  This has definitely grayed my hair more, as it was my daughter growing up and moving out.  Daughters are just different.  Transitioning from being the parent of a teen to the parent of an adult presented many challenges with Sarah.  Put it this way…my vacation this year was a week spent in Savannah, Georgia, moving her into Savannah College of Art and Design, an elite art school on the coast of Georgia.  Not a bad place to vacation.

When I moved her to Savannah, however, I thought she was an adult and would handle things on her own.  Little did I know!  The cord was not entirely cut!

Through this experience with my daughter, I learned the following necessary skills a successful college student needs in his/her “toolbelt” in order to truly be successful:

Genuine Problem Solving Skills

Yes, teachers attempt to instill this in their students. However, ultimately, parents can instill this skill more effectively through real life problems, such as grocery shopping and making money stretch.  I have heard stories of college kids stressing out over long dining hall lines.  My daughter’s retort: “Go at another time!

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  • Clothes washing—Some adult children do not know how to wash their own clothes! I cannot imagine!  This is a must in our household from the beginning of high school.

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  • Basic cleaning skills—Some college students and their parents think that the college has a cleaning service. NOT!  There’s no more Mommy picking up after little Johnny.  I have a 16-year-old son, whose room will truly make you gag at times; he’s a wrestler, so his clothes can stink up the room quick!  His room is his responsibility, though, and he cleans it.  My children have chores as soon as they are old enough to understand.  A home is a place where everyone has responsibilities.  Even my son cleans dishes by hand!  One day he will make a great roommate and an awesome husband!
  • Budgeting—This is a skill I am working on with my daughter. She is not horrible at this, but she can definitely use some coaching.  Some college kids think that money  will just fall into their laps.  Thankfully, my daughter has had jobs and has been given financial responsibilities.  One of the greatest gifts we can give our kids is responsibility. If they grow up with everything being handed to them, they will think that’s how life works.  WAKEUP CALL!  It’s not!  When our kids get cars, they each pay a certain amount monthly, in order to keep the car.  When my son has traveled to national competitions, he has raised the funds himself through sponsorships.  I never made a call for him.


  • Time Managements Skills—We all wish we had more time in the day. Time management can make or break a college student.  If a student is not accustomed to managing events on his/her own, managing classes, studying, washing clothes, and just normal day to day activities can become overwhelming.  Let’s face it: it’s their first time away from home, and they just don’t know what to do with themselves!  FREEDOM, they scream!  We did it when we first went away from home.  Naturally, our kids will too.  Managing time can be as simple as using the calendar app on a smartphone.

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  • Basic Health Knowledge— Amidst getting used to freedom away from their parents, college students often lose sight of taking care of their health.  I sent Sarah to college with multivitamins; we restock every time she comes home. Vitamins ward off lots of illnesses that are passed around in communal living- quarters like college dorms.   When do you go to the emergency room?  Not every illness requires a costly ER visit.  I stock my daughter up on the normal over the counter meds: Ibuprofen, allergy tablets, antacid, etc.  A bad case of indigestion can be solved easily and less expensively with antacid than with an ER visit.

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Each of these points seems like common sense and that our kids will just figure it out.  However, they don’t!  Parents are entrusted with preparing their kids to live as successful, thriving adults.  Each of these skills, that are easily taught and reinforced from a young age, can prevent lots of heartache and stress.

Here’s to all the moms, helping their college kids excel!


All the best,


Song of Sapelo Sunset

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