Wednesday, March 21, 2012

teenagers, tattoos & & other scary subjects

(these are my 3 youngest + my sweet abby)

i tweeted the following this afternoon:
"Having the charming "belly button piercing" conversation with one of my girls #heckno #teens #guesswhichone"
& then proceeded to blow up all forms of my social media.
even "ms sibi" called to check on said  #guesswhichone
making sure we weren't piercing anything today.

i have a couple deadlines this week
which have served as a clear reminder that i have poor task completion issues
am woefully inept in performing multiple tasks simultaneously.
that being said, i just had to address this issue.
shall we name this the second in my arbitrarily numbered teen series?

in a conversation sprinkled with laughter
( i can have a sense of humor my friends)
& maybe a tongue in cheek or two
yes i did indeed have, what i'm certain,
will not be the last conversation
( nor has it been the first)
concerning body piercings & other scary subjects.

this is where i throw out my disclaimers
& hope we'll still be friends.
my experiences with my own teenagers are my only experiences in parenting teenagers.
i have not had the challenges some parents face with rebellious children,
chronic medical or psychological issues, or the myriad of challenges
that make parenting a child in the teenage years even more tough.
my older three girls are all completely different
& thus require completely different expectations, responses, & parenting techniques.
what is right for one is not always necessarily right for all.

i think i'm slowly becoming a better parent the older i get.
poor savannah. first born child.
( i'll pay for her counseling )
i was so darn hard on her & instead of majoring on the majors
& minoring on all else,
i think i made everything a big deal.
i have a been a grace failure. 
it's true.

but i am slowly learning to feel out my girls when they react & respond 
to their world
or mention that they'll be getting their belly buttoned pierced
"when i turn 18, cuz i can do anything at 18".
i don't go all wonky & freak out 
( well, we are just talking. no one has pierced anything yet).
i learned a few years ago
( free parenting tip here....)
don't freak out.
whatever they tell you. don't freak out.
you can freak later with your spouse, but in front of them, keep it cool

years ago, savannah went to young life camp for the weekend.
she called & told me she had something to tell me something when she returned home.
lord have mercy. i was scared to death of what that conversation was going to be all about.
lo & behold, that child hopped off the bus with about a 3 inch strip of fuscia hair.
pink hair. 
that's all.

now, i'm not a fan of pink hair.
but the pink slowly faded away & all was right with our world again.
i tell you that because it was a reminder to me to chose my battles
& pink hair was not going to make or break us.
& yes, i made a few snarky remarks. i told you...grace failure.
now please don't send me hate mail or tell me i'm wishy washy
on this next statement.
i'm going out, bravely, on a thin limb here....
my conviction, my personal conviction
is that i do not make my girls feel they have a load of rules & expectations
that are strict & that each weigh the same.
the "each weigh the same" is the big point here.

what does that look like?
well, when savannah was a junior in highschool
i sat down on her bed one night & poured out my heart to her.
my girls know where we stand on many of the basic family rules
you know... say yes ma'am & yes sir. wear seat belts. 
the 10 commandments.
don't drink & don't have sex. floss. etc

but i pleaded with her one, above all others, conviction
that i prayed would be her own conviction.
i expressed how highly i valued that conviction and how violating that 
would affect her.
i wanted her to know that "one" was the biggy.
for me. her mom. the biggy.

my head is not in the sand.
nor do i wish to hide my girls in the basement until they're whatever age...
i'm a realist
& i was a teenager.
i'm not hosting keg parties or buying condoms ok....but i am aware of 
the immense pressure on our teens these days.
i will also say, you may think i'm sorta lucky or sheltered
but my girls each have a relationship with lord
& desire to please Him, more than me.
so that is HUGE in instilling values in them.
& tattoos and body piercings honestly fall further down my personal list 
than some other biggies.

what's become ( wish i figured this out long ago) of more importance to me
is to understand the root or what might cause my girls to say & do things
that i hope & pray they don't do.
if i can 
strive to understand their hearts
then discussing an issue like..."why do you want to do -----"
(you fill in the biggy blank surely isn't yours)
might go over a little better than a big blanket
"heck no".

i'm always so hesitant to even share these things.
sometimes it's hard to articulate something so complex.
so multi -faceted.

what i'm basically saying is 
i sure hope no one pierces or tats up anything right now
or shaves their head or whatever else.
truth be told,
we usually spend most days breaking up arguments between my middle two.

i'm trying to choose my battles 
& each battle is different with each child.
i can honestly tell you though,
the vast majority of all our battles are based upon  & rooted in building character in our girls.
i'm trying, sometimes failing
but i'm trying to first of all
let my girls know they're loved
& that i have their back
& that Jesus loves them.
those three things alone are the recipe for great communication.
even if the communication is about pierced belly buttons

so, i'll fumble & humbly stumble off my soapbox
& also tell you....

i have a tattoo



"By Your wounds we are healed
And You have conquered the grave
And in Your rising, we will rise
To carry Your name
Above every name"
christy nockels


Just Ask Beth said...

100% agreed!! i have 3 girls and I truly do NOT sweat the small stuff..I use to freak out and try to manage everything but realized I was halting their growth and independence.. they will fall..and I will hopefully be there to pick them up! But most importantly have taught them to GET UP!!

Beth said...

Well said! Trying and praying and trying some more to do the same thing with my girls!!!

Beth said...

Well said! Trying and praying and trying some more to do the same thing with my girls!!!

Ciao Marezy said...

I'm 26 and don't have teenage girls yet... twins on the way, so I may have my hands full if they are both girls! I agree that you have to pick your battles and not always sweat the small stuff. I think you're right how some need to be talked to or disciplined, etc, certain ways that may be good for them and not the other child. It's good to hear other people who think that way. I think it is just something that you have to take each issue as it comes and discern the best way to go about it, or let it pass. You really made me giggle with your ending... a tattoo. You left me hanging wondering what it is!

Jessica said...

wow - well well well said! i also have a , as my little man grows, i will be choosing my battles carefully : )

i will of course, want to flip at times i am sure...but i will hope and pray for the will to keep my cool...and to truly keep perspective.

beautifully put paige!

Jill said...

Ok, officially my favorite post! I SO agree with you on your parenting philosophy and acknowledgment that sometimes we fail but that our hearts and intentions are pure!
And if I cave to the peer pressure of our crazy friend, I too may have a tattoo next week - yikes! But I will tell my girls, momma is 45 and making this decision.

SSM said...

Hello Paige,

Keep doing a great job at being a
Mommy! :)

kerrie of sea cottage said...

Well you have not lost my friendship. The teen years have been so much harder than I ever ever thought. Thankfully I have always been close to my four children(2 boys, 2 girls) and that has been our lifesaver a many times. I do not share my personal life (concerning my family) on my blog because I want them to have the security and stability that I am NOT blogging about them. But I can tell you that I have learned to parent very similar as you are sharing here which only confirms to me that we are hearing God's heart. I know you seek Him first in how to mother, and I do too. I have gone through alot with my young adults/teen(my children are age 21,20,18,16)that has challenged my heart of unconditional love to the core. Personally I feared mine getting tattoos. I just have a really difficult time with that they are permanent...meaning forever on your body. The piercings can be removed. My kids are very artistic. My 21 yr. old son began piercing and dying his hair crazy at age 16. He even had 3 inch gauges! Until one ripped and the Doctor just sewed them back up. His ear lobes look completely normal again as if he never even had them pierced. Then he began getting tattoos. I would actually get sick in the beginning. I am thankful that he has a really good tattoo artist and he is very careful about what he chooses to put on his body. Then on my birthday this year he came home with a stomach tattoo of the face of Jesus surrounded by roses and two cherubs for the two children I miscarried. It is so beautiful I cried...just seeing Jesus(such beautiful realistic artwork of Him) on my son made all the anxiety wash away. All that has ever mattered to me is their hearts and I try to see them on the inside rather than the outward appearance. For me, it says alot about the inside of my son that he put on the outside his Lord and Savior. My 18 yr. old daughter has 3 nose piercings and a belly button. The nose ones are so small, tiny little diamonds, that you can barely see them. She plans on getting a few tattoos that she has already designed. My other daughter and son have no desire to pierce or tat. You are right that they are all different and parenting them is not cookie cutter. Well, I think I wrote a book. Sorry about that. I think what has helped me the most in parenting my teens is to always remember that each one of them belongs to God, not me. To trust Him with their hearts and lives.

Home: Inside and Out said...

I admire your bravery to even discuss these things... people get their panties in a wad really easily over such matters. And I totally agree with your perspective. I'm probably one of the most conservative in my peer group, both while growing up and now. With that said...I must admit that I actually had my belly button pierced? Well...really just a hole now since pregnancy won the battle of permanent noticeable marks on my tummy. :) It's totally not a big deal. I think its more about the "why" someone would want one, rather than the actual fact of doing it. If you just want a pretty jewel in your belly while wearing a bathing suit at the beach then who cares? If you want it to flaunt yourself around town in trashy clothing and let it add to the image... well, that's another thing altogether now isn't it. :)

Marci @All Things Wonderful said...

I love this post! I learn do much from you. And I love that you have a tatoo!!

Sheri said...

Just when I think I've read my favorite post from you ...... you come up with this one! Wow. I wish I could express myself the way you do. You are sooooo right on the money - and again your are my rock star blogger!!!!!!!! Well said :)

Leslie said...

you crack me up! being a mom of a teenage boy i get everything you are sayin'. love ya paige, thanks for keepin it real!!!

Jodi said...

I think that you are a wonderful mother and are doing a fabulous job; your girls have great values and are good girls.

We have had the belly button piercing discussion at our home too. We try not to freak out either when having such discussions; it makes life so much easier! :) We just hope that we can encourage our daughter to make the right decisions in life without trying to make the decisions for her.

Great post..... and I have a tattoo too (wink). :)

Amy said...

I love you to bits Paige! We have the same discussions in our home. In fact RIGHT NOW I am in contact with my nearly 13 year old daughter who is off to the movies after school for the long awaited release of the Hunger Games, and has taken my mascara with her. Secretly. Only... not so secret because its not on my makeup tray and I am speechless with her nerve and misguided appropriation. Grace, communication and truth. Consequence, honor and self respect. Love. Being a mother is the most amazing privilege, it is so enriching to the relationship we have with our own Heavenly Father as we ask for His help!

Art and Sand said...

My children are grown and successful, contributing adults. We did a lot wrong, but we also did a lot right. They don' t come with manuals. You have to trust your instincts and remember you know them best. Your girls all seemed grounded and centered and surrounded by love.

LouBoo said...

Hey Paige - recently I have been guilty of reading what you write, smiling, agreeing, then not commenting about that validation to you. You should write a book called 'What Paige Did' as it would seem like a best seller to me. Even if not a best seller then a long slow burner like Dr Spock! I think the way you parent is awesome and I often think 'what would Paige do?' when my rapidly maturing 10 year old daughter comes home with whatever that day's issue is.

I had the flip side; I said I might get a tattoo for my 40th birthday and both my kids FREAKED OUT! So it goes both ways. I had them begging me not to. Reverse psychology?! Lou x

Simone said...

Great post Paige, well done!!

Love Being A Nonny said...

I wish I could say *ME TOO!*...on the tat part!! :) THIS is a post that for a long time I will be saying *Did you read what Paige wrote about piercings and tattoos and knowing the hearts of her girls?*

Well said my friend. Well said.

Christan Perona said...

Love you!

Bethanie said...

yep, I say if we make it thru these teen years with girls and they come out of it lovin' Jesus with their virginity, morals and a pierced belly button or tattoo it's (the tattoo or piercing)really not on the radar of what is important. My youngest is a sophomore, and in a cosmetology program at her school...she wanted to color her hair (nothing funky, just darker) and I was going to say no, just because it's such a pain to upkeep. I gave in, and figured in the grand scheme, its NOT a big deal. Then she asked for her cartilege pierced. I said no...she kept asking, finally I told her to ask her dad. Knowing he'd tell her no too... and dang it if he didnt tell her if she raised the two B's she has to A's she can do it...she's been busting her butt all semester to bring those B's up. Like my husband said, "B, she's going to be a hair dresser, have you ever looked at the piercings and hair color some of them'd better get used to it. She's a good girl. THATS what matters."

Between You and Me said...

oh, I just love you.
really, really love you.
{as much as one can love someone they've never officially met}

you are a wonderful mama, and I know every last girl of yours would say the same thing.

poooooor first borns. i'm learning {late} to give grace in my parenting. we've been so much harder on luke than the other two.

major on the majors....what a truly sound piece of advice that I'll hold onto.

after being in youth ministry, tattoos and piercings are the least of things to worry about with our teens, who are facing soooo many other temptations. you know your kids' hearts better than anyone else in their life...

speaking of tattoos....hello miss coolpants. i want a tattoo. bad.
i seriously think i want something in greek or hebrew on the inside of my wrist. yes and amen.

you rock like the avett brothers.

Marie said...

Loved your post! Thank you for the laugh out loud when I got to the end. You are so refreshing!

Deborah said...

You're exactly right Paige. I wish I had been that kind of Mama when my kids were young. I stressed over everything. School, clothes, friends, rooms. I did learn as I got older that most things are just not that important. You pick your battles.
When my first daughter got her tongue piereced and a tatoo on her 18th birthday I thought it was the end of the world. When my second daughter got a tatoo and belly button pierce I just shook my head. When my baby daughter got a nose pierce and multiple ear piercings I smiled, said keep it clean and wear solid gold, sterling silver or surgical steel so you won't get infections. (My son never got into any of it.)
I wish I could have a do-over.
Just do exactly what you're doing.
Your daughters are smart, sweet, lovely and have a heart for Jesus. What else in life is

Kelli said...

I am so grateful that you share with us (me). Thank you.

Jboo said...

Love this post!! Having raised two boys and now with an almost tween girl, I can relate!

You and Dan are doing a fabulous job!

elaine said...

I knew you had a tattoo!
You are such a real person and that is the best part of your blog.

Alecia said...

Great stuff as always Paige...kind of funny too :-)

I love that those girls know how to keep you on your toes...haha!

smk said...

i believe your first response to me having something to tell you was "did you get caught kissing a boy or something?!"
always assuming the best in me!

tell tara i want a tat on the inside of my wrist too and i will gladly go with her to an athens tattoo parlor to get one ;)

good luck telling em no! hopefully she'll grow out of that...

Johnson Party of seven! said...


Lulu and Co. said...

loved reading your posts. you always give me something to think about, and it confirms that this parenting business has so many layers! we can all learn from each other. beautiful post!

Heather said...

PAIGE! crack me up! that last line... lol
but see- this post right here is why I read you blog... learning from those that have gone before me. Hanging on your every word... I shall print this post and reread it every day! lol! seriously. thank you for your words of wisdom. xo

Amanda Pilkinton said...

I love your writing. Being a parent is hard and I think you are doing a great job!

Melissa said...

My mom had certain things that were huge NO's for us growing up (Drugs, tattoos, etc...) but in exchange eased up on the things that in the grand scheme didn't really matter - I was allowed to pierce my belly button at 18 and the world didn't end. But becuase she let me do that in exchange I honored her no tattoo policy which I am forever grateful for today!

Anonymous said...

Love this post! It's nice to hear other Godly women have made (what I consider a big mistake) and also gotten a tattoo (Jill- if you want one, you're 45 & of course you know what you're doing, but can I just say, rub on ones are great & they wear off nicely before a fancy event:-). I got a tattoo a couple decades ago (just a cute little dolphin) and I've regretted it since. My kids are always discussing how they want one too when they turn 18. I try not to freak out & just reply, "the great thing about having a mom who's made (several, but I usually don't add that) mistakes is hopefully you can learn from mine & not have to make your own". :-)
Anyway, thank you Paige. Your daughters are all beautiful AND smart. You & Dan have done a terrific job (I even think you could write a parening book. I would preorder:-). So whatever dcisions they make in life from the minor to the major, as long as they continue to keep their eyes on the Lord,everything else is "the small stuff"

LLH Designs said...

So well said, Paige. Every mom needs to read this post...especially as they approach teenage years. I can turn everything into a major around here. Need to remember that above all, I want them to know, love and serve the Lord...not me.

Love you, girl!

Anonymous said...

Loving you!

Lindsey said...

I don't have any children of my own...but I do spend lots of time with teenagers. I agree with the words of this post wholeheartedly. I've learned the importance of not freaking matter what they say. Doing that only encourages girls to get quiet. This means that I'm often freaking out on the inside...but on the outside, I try to be as calm as a cucumber. I'm a big fan of not majoring in the minors either....sometimes easier said than done, but oh so true.

Praying daily for your sweet family!

Susan R said...

Funny thing....
I took my youngest to have her ears RE-pierced recently and my youngest son (11) went with us, he is her best friend. Anyway...she was holding his hand and he was holding mine and a little girl was watching all of us. After my baby got her ears pierced, the little girl asked if my son was going to have his ear pierced too and I jokingly turned to her and said, "Not as long as he lives in my house."
Now, having said that...I would most definitely not be happy about any of my sons having anything pierced, that is for the girls and it's ears only (one hole in each ear).
I had a recent conversation with my oldest son about tattoos and said I would be a lot happier if he did not get a tattoo and gave him all the reasons why, but that it would not be the end of the world if he did. I know that sounds like shooting off the starting gun to allowing him to have a tattoo, but he is intelligent enough to know what I mean. He's not old enough to have one right now anyway.
My children are clear on where I stand on this subject, but I would never let it distroy a relationship.
I don't think a piercing or a tattoo is the end of the world. However, I don't like to see anyone covered in tattoos and pierced like crazy.

DeeDee said...

You are the REAL deal Paige and I just love that about you! Thank you for reading your blog :)

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading your blog. I have 2 wonderful adult married girls, both with great husbands and 2 grandsons. Our oldest got a tat while on spring break during college years, I happened to see it when she came home for the summer. My reaction was at least she had good taste in art selection, questioned her about it and that was it. I love reading about your family, house decorating, etc. Now that my girls are adults you take on a different role with them, they are my best friends, we have fun together but you never stop worrying about them and they still come to us for guidance in a different way. You are a great mother and have fun with those girls. I always tell my preschool parents, remember you are the one in charge, everything else falls into place. Mickey in PA.

3 Peanuts said...

me too;)

Maggie said...

Love how you just slipped that one in there. LOL WHERE>>>>

Michele said...

Can I just tell you how much I love you and your writing Paige?!! You are a wonderful Mother! I know what you mean about first borns - and being so hard on them - unfortunately for my son, he was an only child so I was never able to "use" all that knowledge on the next child. Love you friend. FYI - I don't have a tatoo! xoxo

Michele said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jessica said...

I have been following your blog for awhile--and have never commented--and I think this has been, by far, your best post. I am only 29, but I feel like my 'teenage years' weren't that long ago. You remind me of my mom and I think that's why I loved this post so much. I also now have three children, two of them girls, but they're all still babies (and toddlers...and an almost kindergartener) but I already think about these 'big talks' we'll have some day. I think everything you said was spot on for raising children that trust their parents and confide in them. They will always know you have their back and nothing is more important than that. I think you are an amazing mother to four very blessed girls.

Anonymous said...

Much, much worse things than a belly button ring at age 18 on those cute little tummies.


Casey @ Classic with a Pop said...

My mom lived by "pick your battles" too, and now that I am grown and married, my-oh-my how I appreciate it. I actually DID get my belly button pierced...when I was ripped out 2 months later because I was a dancer with too much movement and didn't have enough stomach fat to keep it there (oh to have that problem now!) I then got it done AGAIN when I was got infected and I ended up in the doctor's office to have it removed and be put on antibiotics...the day before I took the LSAT. Nice. The point is, even if she does get it pierced, it means nothing about who she is as a person or who she will become. She will remove it one day on her own. And you will smile and just know it was "one of those things." Now that I'm married, on my own, and 6 months away from being a licensed attorney (praise the Lord law school is almost over), my mom isn't kicking herself for letting that battle go.

deb said...

Paige, question. Where do you and your girls get all your neat mala bead bracelets?? I have been looking for some and love your white one with the wooden cross on it. Thanks so much and I LOVE your blog!!! Makes me feel normal!!

Jeannine said...

This is your most brilliant post. My oldest is 11, and I'm getting glimpses of the future...

Thank you for saying you were too hard on is so honest, and is something I see in myself, and I love having a been-there-done-that mom caution me to watch out for that. Gosh, Paige. You write in such a relatable way. You should write a book!

Jeannine said...

This is your most brilliant post. My oldest is 11, and I'm getting glimpses of the future...

Thank you for saying you were too hard on is so honest, and is something I see in myself, and I love having a been-there-done-that mom caution me to watch out for that. Gosh, Paige. You write in such a relatable way. You should write a book!

Jen Kershner said...

Poor first children, huh? We always tell Maddie that she's our practice child. We were worried about her piercing and tattooing when she turned 18 but she surprised us with a tiny little dot of a piercing in her nose (which actually looks quite cute on her) and nothing else! There was a day when she swore she would get the belly button done but she outgrew it. I think you handle these siturations very well Paige and majoring in the majors is brilliant advice.

The Music of My Life said...

I love this timely post! My husband and I were just having this conversation about our son who is a sophomore in college and has a "cluster" of tattoos on his ankle! Although we aren't very happy about it, we also believe you have to pick your battles. He is such a kind, wonderful and loving young man and we are so proud of the person he is..the tattoos..well..a bit of self expression isn't the worst thing!

Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

I had to laugh because that post ended quite differently than I thought it would. So funny! And I love your approach to parenting. I have four, and I pay close attention to everything you say. I don't care whether we agree or disagree on things ... I just find reading other mothers' thoughts comforting! :)

traci said...

beautiful post paige. being a parent is hard work. but it is worth all the ins and outs. your girls are a blessing and they are such good girls with amazing parents. they will all be fine. and i have two.

Dori said...

I have a 10 and a 7 year old girl. A 12 yr old boy. I value your wisdom. Thanks Paige!

Kat said...

Love this. One day, a few years ago, it occurred to me that I was making a big deal out of everything when it came to my girls. They were babies at the time, but it became clear to me that my reactions to things would soon determine their reactions, or, overreactions in any given situation. I learned, as you have, to pick my battles.
This is a excerpt from one of my first blog posts back in 2009.

"Sometimes that mountain you've been climbing is just a grain of sand" are lyrics from a Carrie Underwood song. They totally spoke to me. Lately, I find the girls seem whinier than usual and everything always seems to be such a big deal. I find it frustrating and exhausting to deal with the constant whining, crying, screaming, tantrums and general drama that comes with having girls. These lyrics spoke to me because I think I often climb a mountain when it comes to dealing with the girls when it really is just a grain of sand. I think their over-reaction to things comes as a direct result of my over-reaction in certain situations. Here's to more grains of sand than mountains in the near future and the wisdom to know the difference between the two."

It's a tough journey, but I am up to the challenge and it amazes me how much I have learned already and how much I still have yet to learn.

Anonymous said...

What a hoot! As a mother of 4 girls also, I hear your post and am the Queen of Freak Outs! Thanks for the reminder! Barbara in AR

Anonymous said...

Bwahahahaha. I love it. You have a tattoo. Well, just to reassure you (or maybe not), I got a belly button piercing when I was 20. I had really struggled to drop the freshman 15 (Or 25) and when I finally did it, I went out and got my belly button pierced. Not even to show off to anyone. But just I think b/c I was proud of myself for losing weight. I don't know--kinda dumb looking back! But I only wore it for a little while. It rubbed on the waist band of jeans and annoyed me so much! haha! And now I have 2 boys and of course DO NOT wear the belly button ring. it is just a little scar above my belly button. It looks awesome with the stretch marks. ;-) Amber B.

Kathie Truitt said...

I too, have a tattoo - got it for my 25th wedding anniversary. his name on my right ankle. He was NOT impressed. I am the last person anyone ever expected to have a tatoo. Now (at 49), I have to run by the jewelry store so I won't stop in and have my nose pierced.

Object of Maya*ffection said...

I am the SAME exact way with my first born and not with the second.... Everyone thinks its because he's a boy?

And you KNOW I have to ask- what is your tattoo?

Kelly said...

For her 18th birthday, we went together and got similar tattoos. A passion for horses is our common bond and we had planned for 3 yrs to do this together. Everytime I see that tat, I think of her.