We were sitting on her deck, the sun warming our faces, when Mariah shared her secret mom trick.
The mom of four boys and an infant daughter, she has spent years studying her children, reading books and seeking out wisdom – especially during her tenure as a single parent. Now remarried, she still believes in the value of gleaning from others.
But today, as we enjoy the sunshine and the happy chortles of her baby girl, she shares one of her favorite methods for connecting with the heart of her teens.
At first, I’m not entirely sure what she means.
“I’ve learned that teens need to feel like the emotional intimacy in the relationship is their choice. So, I leave open appointments on my calendar that they can fill – if they want.”
She explains that these open appointments aren’t announced. She simply observes the rhythm of their day with an eye for when they might be most receptive to connecting. Then, she works her schedule so that she’s available during those times.
One son was especially chatty right after school, and because her career allowed for a flexible work schedule, she made sure she was there when he arrived home each day. Hanging out at the dining room table, seemingly involved with paperwork, he’d often come sit and talk about his day.
After one particularly long gab session he turned, looked at his mom and asked, “Why am I telling you everything about my life?!”
At this we both laughed and I said, “It’s like your secret mom trick!”
I’ve employed this same technique with my three daughters. I used to regularly stay up late reading on the couch when our oldest was in high school because she liked to talk after everyone was in bed and the house was quiet. Our middle daughter tends to talk as she prepares food. So, I stay nearby whenever she’s in the kitchen. And I’ve driven for hours around our little neighborhood because our youngest likes to chat while we’re driving.
“Right,” adds Mariah, “Because here’s the thing, sometimes just hanging out quietly in the background is enough. It gives them permission to enter the relationship on their terms. Ultimately, I want to connect with their hearts, to know them as men and women, not just as my children.”
Because He has turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.Psalm 116:2