Mothering Teens

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I ran into an old friend the other day! I never ceases to amaze me that you can go years without seeing someone and still jump right into a familiar feeling as soon as you see them again! My friend has always been an amazing mom that I’ve looked up to in many respects. She re-introduced me to her (very tall and beautiful) teenage daughter and began telling me all about her amazing accomplishments in dance, student counsel, and especially academics. This proud mom beamed and her daughter blushed as she told me about the scholarships her daughter had been applying for and the anticipated college experience. When I praised the hard work they had both put into achieving so much, the proud mom said, “That’s a mom’s job, to get her children to college with as much money as they can get so they won’t have to go into debt to get an education.” This statement from my good friend sent an unexpected shiver down my spine. I immediately went from a feeling of rejoicing with my friend and her daughter to a feeling of unexplained sadness that this wonderful mom was selling her eternal role as a mother so short.

Most mothers have a pretty firm grasp on the importance of nurturing a young child. We teach our children love, kindness and courtesy, we read to them, we teach them right from wrong. But what is a mother’s role in the lives of their teenagers? Do we need to hand the lead role of nurturing over to friends, coaches and learning institutions as soon as the child reaches the age of 12? Is this the normal course of life…..or is it a fallacy that we have let ourselves believe because raising teens is hard and it is much easier to hand the reigns off to someone else….or a little of both?

Elder Neil A. Maxwell has said “When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in the cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses?” Once lullabies and cradles are in the past….how do mothers make a difference? Perhaps the answer is in President Nelson’s last conference talk, “We need women who are devoted to shepherding God’s children along the covenant path toward exaltation; women who know how to receive personal revelation, who understand the power and peace of the temple endowment; women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families; women who teach fearlessly.

There is no doubt that the world is on a path away from God. Right is wrong and wrong is right and the new war raging around us isn’t over land or governing rights, it is over our children. “When God wants a great work done in the world or a great wrong righted, he goes about it in a very unusual way. He doesn’t stir up his earthquakes or send forth his thunderbolts. Instead, he has a helpless baby born, perhaps in a simple home of some obscure mother. And then God puts the idea into the mother’s heart, and she puts it in the baby’s mind. And then God waits. The greatest forces in the world are not the earthquakes and the thunderbolts. The greatest forces in the world are babies.” (E.T. Sullivan as quoted by Gordon B. Hinckley, “These, Our Little Ones” Ensign Dec. 2007) The adversary knows how powerful an army of mothers is, so he goes about trying to convince righteous moms that the ideas that God puts in their hearts are of no worth for older children.

With so many after school activities, homework and social demands placed on our teens and their supportive families, it is no wonder so many families skip family meals, scripture study, prayer and even simple conversations. Many parents are given a desire for something better and sincerely wish they had more time to improve on the spiritual upbringing of their children, but even the best families often find themselves becoming slaves to the the demands of the temporal activities. Perhaps that is why we have been counseled to keep the Sabbath Day more holy. It is our opportunity to release ourselves and our children from the chains of our day-to-day lives long enough to see a better path.

Mothers, our children are needed in these last days, especially our teens. Now is the time to ask our Heavenly Father for guidance and be brave enough to follow His promptings. We can do it, we have been put on this earth at this time for this purpose and we will never have to do it alone!