This week we are veering away from the teens and I’m bringing you some wise words from someone I know will make you think about how you handle teens - whether you are a teen or help lead teens. I think you’ll soon understand why I thought she was the perfect person to talk about nurturing today’s youth.
Stacy and I met when we were roommates during our early college years. I have to admit, she was one of the most fun roommates I had (and I had a lot of roommates). She’s smart, gorgeous and oh so funny.
(1) You know the drill, tell everyone a little about yourself.
Hey, I'm Stacy. I'm married to my best friend, Kelly. He works hard so that I am able to be a stay at home mom. We have been married almost 12 years and we have 6 boys, 1 daughter-in-law and 2 grandbabies. We have a his, mine and ours family. We both were married before. My husband had 2 boys from his previous marriage (Austin and Landon), I had 1 boy from my previous marriage (Sage), and then we had 3 boys together (Kaleb, Caden and Ryker). Our middle boy that we had together, Caden, was a still born and it was a very difficult thing to go through. I know that we will be with him again someday though. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and I am so grateful for the gospel, scriptures, my Savior who died for me, my loving Heavenly Father who knows me and loves me unconditionally, and for the temple and promise of eternal families. I serve as a leader for our Young Women's program, and love my girl time I get each week. When I'm not at football, baseball, or basketball games supporting my boys, I am working on building my business. I am a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant. I love all things makeup and skincare! My business is my one girly thing I get to do while being surrounded by all boys!
(2) What is your favorite thing about living in a house full of boys?
My favorite thing about having a house full of boys is knowing I'll be surrounded by handsome men the rest of my life! I love that we never have a dull moment. There is always something happening. I've always been a bit of a tomboy, so I'm that mom that loves to wrestle with my kids and have competitions. We love playing games and sports together. I feel so close with my boys and don't feel bad one bit that I'm raising some mommas boys! They are so sweet to take care of and look out for me and I love that even with their tough attitudes they are big teddy bears when it comes to all things mom related. It melts my momma heart!
(3) What do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing the next generation of teens?
I think a huge challenge our next generation of teens has to face is not being able to be free to think for themselves or choose what they would really like to be in life. I think it is hard for teens, and even adults, to have their own beliefs if it is not what the 'majority' believes. There is so much hate in the world today. There is too much judging and not enough accepting people for who they are. Too many people want to change others to what they feel they should be. I hope that my boys and the young women I work with will stay strong. Strong in their beliefs, strong in their choices, and especially strong with their love for themselves. It can be hard to think you have to be more that you are and I hope teens can start to realize, YOU ARE ENOUGH! YOU ARE AMAZING! YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD, and YOU ARE SO LOVED!
(4) What are your top tips for girls to help their boy peers reach their potential?
I continually tell the girls I work with that they should be what they want to date and marry. They should keep their morals high to be able to help their boy peers keep their morals high. Encourage the young men to be gentlemen and to treat women with respect. I feel it is good to encourage young men to serve missions instead of try to get them to stay home to get married or be with their girlfriend. I think it would be good for girls to also set a goal to serve a mission as well. Any good example girls can be for the boys they hang out with and date, the more they can help those boys reach their potential and achieve their own goals.
(5) How can we help teens be better at communicating?
One big thing I have tried doing with my boys is to not freak out, like I would like to at times, when they tell me things I may have a hard time hearing. Or when my son comes to me about a girl he likes, I try not to get all giggly and over ask questions. Ha ha. It's easier said than done! What I'm trying to say is chill out parents. Not everything has to be such a big deal. Help your kids feel like they can come talk to you by letting them talk....listen to understand not to respond. I've always made sure my kids know I am here for them. That means putting my phone down, getting off my computer, stopping whatever it is I'm doing when I hear them ask, "Hey mom, can I talk to you?" I make sure not to lecture, I try to let my kids help choose what consequence they have if the situation calls for it. I try to make my kids feel important. I help encourage them to communicate with others, and to know that people can't read minds. They need to share what they are thinking, what they want, and how they feel, or people may not know. How I respond to them when they want to communicate with me is how I hope they will respond to another family member or friend when they want to communicate with them. Good communication isn't just doing all the talking, but also by listening.
(6) What is your favorite part about being a youth leader? What is the hardest part?
My favorite thing about being a youth leader is being around girls instead of boys! ha ha. Aside from that, I love that I have the opportunity to be able to hopefully help this next generation grow in to respectable, responsible, strong adults who can lead others instead of just being followers. The hardest part of being a youth leader is seeing how the world is becoming and being afraid for what the youth have to deal with in this day and age.
(7) How do you foster connection or bond with the youth?
The biggest way I have been able to foster a connection and bond with the youth is to genuinely be interested in their lives and what they enjoy doing. Some of my young women have done sports that I have been able to attend and support them. With my boys I have always tried to show them I am there for them and show them I support them. The key word is Show. To me, actions speak much louder than words. It's easy to say you care or say you are interested, and it is a whole other thing to be present and active in their lives.
(8) What do you wish would make a big comeback in 2019?
Oh boy, there are too many things to list! The 80's and 90's were a pretty happening time! ha ha ha. I've already seen crimped hair, fanny packs, overalls, velvet clothes, etc., come back in style. However, I really miss the cost of gas! I remember paying only about $1.10 a gallon when I filled up my awesome Honda Civic Hatchback. So if I had to pick one thing...bring back the low gas prices please!
(9) What motto do you live by?
The motto I live by is the golden rule. Treat others how you want to be treated. One thing I say to my kids every day is to be good and be kind. I think if people treated each other with the respect they wanted to receive, the world could be a much better place. I also make sure to form my own opinion of people and situations by my own experiences. Too often people want you to like or dislike someone or something because of their experience with them. I am a big believer in giving people and situations a chance. Form your own opinion and go by how you feel. This is not always the popular thing to do, and I have to admit, I have lost some friends by being this way. Let's be honest though....They couldn't have been true friends if they decided to treat me badly and talk bad about me because I wouldn't follow them in their hate fest. I've learned in my 38 years of life that being genuine and kind and treating others with respect is always the right thing to do.
(10) Who has been your biggest role model and what have you learned from them?
I think my biggest roll model has been my parents. They are such amazing people, yet continually strive to be better each day. They are continually helping others without complaint and without expecting anything in return. They are some of the most genuine people I know, and if you have the privilege of knowing them you know how genuine and kind they are. They emulate Christs love for others daily. They are the best grandparents and have a bond with their grandkids that I hope to have with my grandkids as they get older too.
(11) What strengths do you see in the rising generation?
I see the rising generation want to be involved more in what's going on in the world. I see them trying to learn and contribute what they can to their communities and schools. I see stronger, more capable youth learning to become leaders and working to achieve great things such as jobs, families, and dreams they may have.
(12) What are some ways we can nurture self confidence in today’s teens?
I think kids at any age learn and grow best when they have responsibility. Kids, especially teens, want to be trusted and want to feel they are capable of doing things on their own. When we put our trust in our teens and give them responsibilities they can learn and grow from those experiences and that can help build their confidence. Giving kids jobs around the house, responsibility to help watch younger siblings or even help a neighbor, it teaches them that they can do hard things. Encouraging them and praising them not only when they succeed, but also when they fail, is huge! Teaching our kids good sportsmanship does wonders in other aspects of their life, not just sports. It helps them become more willing to try things, more capable of getting back up after being knocked down, and more able to try again after failing. It gives them a mindset that isn't blaming others for their mistakes or failures, but taking that responsibility and choosing to become stronger and better.
(13) What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I think a lot of people would be surprised to know that I have GAD. Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I try my best to hide it because often times I feel anxious all day long. It started when I was in my previous marriage and dealt with abuse. I have not been able to get past it and have continuous anxiety each and every day. Some days I am able to deal with it better than others. Most people don't even know that I have it. I am determined to not let it define me though.
(14) Finish this sentence…Life has surprised me…
Life has surprised me by throwing so many curveballs my way, but still somehow making it all seem worthwhile. By experiencing all my hardships in life from being abused, going through a divorce, being a single mom, having a child pass away, etc., I have not been beaten down, but instead I have been able to become a much stronger, more caring and compassionate person. I am truly blessed and grateful for everything I have been able to experience and grow from in my life.
Well? What did I tell you? And can you believe she has grandkids? I love her thoughts on not overreacting when you might not want to hear what kids have to say. I definitely will keep that in mind as my own kids age into the teen years.