girltalk Blog

Jul 23

Teens and Emotions: A Time to Talk

2014 at 9:03 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Emotions | Motherhood

If one word captures the priority for our children’s emotions in the teen years, it is “conversation.” We find this command in Scripture:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ~Deuteronomy 6:7

Teaching self-control is not an end in itself. We are fashioning vessels that can receive and retain the gospel truths we pour into their hearts.

Sometimes, parents get it backwards. They talk to their toddler as if he was an adult—explaining, bribing, reasoning, pleading—but fail to provide the emotional training a small child needs most: discipline and self-control.

On the flip side, parents often fail to have fruitful conversations with their teenagers: “Because I said so, that’s why!” They can fail to explain what God’s Word says about emotions at just the age when their children need to hear it most.

These priorities are not mutually exclusive. A teenager certainly needs discipline and self-control, and we should teach our toddlers using simple language they can understand.

But hopefully, when a child reaches the age where they are beginning to contemplate the world around them and trying to understand the “why” behind the “what,” we as parents have provided a strong foundation of self-control. And hopefully we are right there, ready and eager to teach them what God’s Word says about their feelings.

The tween and teenage years are a time to talk, a time to listen, and a time to teach. How do we get this conversation started? And what do we teach? More on those questions, to come.

Related Posts:

Reassuring Words for Changing Emotions

Navigating the Emotional Changes of the Teen Years

Teens and Their Emotions: Easily Influenced, Highly Influential

Jul 21

A Remarkable View of Suffering

2014 at 9:53 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Suffering | Gospel

“Things put into the furnace properly can be shaped, refined, purified, and even beautified. This is a remarkable view of suffering, that if faced and endured with faith, it can in the end only make us better, stronger, and more filled with greatness and joy.” ~Timothy Keller

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Pet. 1:6-7

Jul 17

Reassuring Words for Changing Emotions

2014 at 10:34 am   |   by Janelle Bradshaw Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Emotions | Motherhood

I guess Mom wasn’t as surprised when, a few years after my sisters, my emotions began to change, because she was quick to assure me it was normal.

I remember one of the first times I got over-emotional about something. My dad had brought me a miniature glass piano back from a trip to South Africa.

It broke, and I broke down.

I felt stupid, even guilty, for crying. What was wrong with me? I wasn’t a child anymore, so why did I feel so weepy over this souvenir?

Mom was right there to explain that these kinds of strong emotions were normal at my age. (What a comforting word normal is!) She reassured me that I wasn’t strange and that nothing weird was happening to me. I could expect more strong emotions in the future and not to be overly concerned about it. By the end of the conversation I think we were probably laughing about it all.

My mom’s calm, even lighthearted, response was steadying for me. At that age you have so many questions about life and about yourself. So much is changing and it is confusing. It helped so much that she didn’t chide me for my outburst, or act like something was wrong with me or she just couldn’t understand me.

Mom helped me to feel safe in the midst of my changing emotions. By reacting calmly, but even more, by explaining that this was a normal part of growing up, she made it easy for me to ask more questions about my emotions.

Her response also helped me be receptive to her teaching and her leadership throughout my teenage years. I didn’t feel like she was looking down on me, and so it made it easier for me to come to her with my struggles and questions, and to listen to her advice.

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man” (1 Cor. 10:13). Mom not only shared this verse with me but I knew she believed it. She told me stories from her own life to back it up. Hearing how she struggled with her emotions at my age made me feel so much better.

I hope that one day I can serve my children as well as my mom served me. I want to tell them how normal they are, and I want this to be the first of many more talks about their feelings.

Related Posts:

Navigating the Emotional Changes of the Teen Years

Teens and Their Emotions: Easily Influenced, Highly Influential

Recap: Helping Toddlers and Children to Handle Their Emotions

Jul 15

Navigating the Emotional Changes of the Teenage Years

2014 at 8:13 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Emotions | Motherhood

My two oldest girls, Nicole and Kristin, are fourteen months apart. Growing up, they were more like twins—doing everything together, including becoming women.

I read lots of books on how to help girls through puberty, and I talked to them, at the appropriate time about the changes their bodies would undergo in the very new future. I was careful to explain that this was a normal, and even a wonderful process, and nothing to be scared of. I didn’t want them to be surprised. I wanted them to know what to expect.

But I was surprised, completely caught off guard in fact, when my girls emotions began to change. Nicole first, and Kristin close behind. It felt like someone had swapped my two girls out for two strangers.

Where were my little girls who used to be so happy? Why did they cry so easily now? What were these moods that, like an afternoon thunderstorm, seemed to appear from nowhere?

I may have been surprised and confused by my daughters’ emotional changes, but God was not. Just as he designed a young person’s body to change and develop into manhood or womanhood, he also ordained for their emotions to develop and mature.

Remember, God is the one who created our children to be emotional beings, and feelings are a good gift from him. And so it is a beautiful thing when a child’s capacity to feel begins to blossom and grow. This season of mothering does come with all kinds of challenges, but also exciting opportunities to help train and tend those emotions into deepening passion for God.

These years of change aren’t meant to be a battle: parents vs. our children’s emotions. Rather, by the grace of God, they can be a grace-filled season of learning. We can lead our children to understand and appreciate who God has made them to be and teach them how to cultivate and enjoy God-glorifying emotions for the rest of their lives.

Janelle’s up next with a story about her transition from youthful to mature emotions.

Related Posts:

Teens and Their Emotions: Easily Influenced, Highly Influential

Recap: Helping Toddlers and Children to Handle Their Emotions

Godly Feelings are Contagious

Jul 14

When Feelings of Love Dry Up

2014 at 9:11 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Marriage

“In any relationship, there will be frightening spells in which your feelings of love dry up. And when that happens you must remember that the essence of marriage is that it is a covenant, a commitment, a promise of future love. So what do you do? You do the acts of love, despite your lack of feeling. You may not feel tender, sympathetic, and eager to please, but in your actions you must BE tender, understanding, forgiving and helpful. And, if you do that, as time goes on you will not only get through the dry spells, but they will become less frequent and deep, and you will become more constant in your feelings. This is what can happen if you decide to love.” ~Timothy Keller

Jul 10

Teens and Their Emotions: Easily Influenced, Highly Influential

2014 at 8:55 am   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Biblical Womanhood | Emotions | Motherhood

“[Our emotions] are the part of us most vulnerable to outside influences, and in this sense, they are the part of us most easily manipulated….Not only are our emotions easily influenced; they are highly influential. Once persuaded, they become the powerful persuaders, and here is their danger….Reason is cut down, obedience is thrown out, and for a while the rule of the emotions is as sovereign as it is violent.” Os Guinness

The author isn’t talking about teenagers, but he might as well be. I mean, in what period of life can children be more unreasonable or disobedient? When are emotions as sovereign as they are violent than during these critical years?

As parents we can sometimes be slow to recognize just how vulnerable and easily manipulated our teenagers’ emotions are. Puberty ushers them into a stage of life full of strange and strong emotions they never felt before.

But these fragile emotions, these susceptible sensations can become the ruling factor in decisions our teenagers make about their friends, their relationship with us, with the church, and most of all about God—all of which will have massive implications for the rest of their lives.

The stakes are high. Once persuaded, our children’s emotions become powerful persuaders, and so we as parents must persuade them first.

There is danger; and there is also opportunity, a chance to help our teenagers harness their emotions so that they become powerful persuaders toward godliness.

How can we prepare and protect our tween and teenage children through this emotional minefield so they come out safely and even stronger on the other side?

How can we guard and guide them into strong, God-glorifying emotions?

These are critical questions with biblical answers. So let’s consider the wisdom of God’s Word for our teenagers’ emotions.

Related Posts:

Recap: Helping Toddlers and Children to Handle Their Emotions

Godly Feelings are Contagious

Thunder and Bugs: Helping Children Deal with Fear