A Soft Place to Land



I pick my kids up every single day…same time, same place. And, every day our conversation always looks pretty much the same. They’re hungry, they’re tired, and they’re emotionally wiped. Respecting your teachers all day, playing nice on the playground, and working hard in every class is hard work!

Recently, I grabbed all three of them, and we headed to the car. My oldest was unusually quiet, but I let it be. If I’ve learned one thing the hard way in this season, it’s the importance of not asking any questions until we are privately and safely in our car.

Per the usual, my boys argued over whose day it was to sit in the front with me. It was an odd day on the calendar, so that meant it was the younger one’s turn. My oldest said something nasty to his younger brother, and then like clockwork, the younger one retaliated with something even more unkind. I hadn’t even buckled my seatbelt before I was yelling, which is not the way any mom ever wants to be reunited with her kids, after a long day apart. It took about thirty seconds for my oldest to throw his things in the back seat and report that his day was horrible…his worst one ever in the history of all days. ever.

Before I could even respond, he had buried his face in his hands and the tears were free-falling. He’s tender hearted, but it’s not often that I see tears, so I knew that his day being horrible was surely more than just not getting to sit up front with me. Once we got home, he headed straight to his room. I wanted to follow him and pry my way into his heart, but I’ve learned another lesson the hard way…

if I tell him I’m here to listen and I give him some space, he’ll almost aways give me a chance to, when it’s his time and his idea.

After a little while, I heard his door open, and he yelled downstairs in his deepest, most solemn voice, “Mom, can we talk?” As you can imagine, I bolted. We laid on his bed for the next twenty minutes, and he literally snuggled up into my arms and cried and cried and cried. Once he started talking, I realized he was sharing so many more details that had nothing to do with that particular day.

Yeah, a few things had happened that had served as a breaking point for him, but it was all the other things from all the days and weeks prior that were weighing heavy on his heart. None of it seemed all that earth-shattering to me, but to him it was all consuming. The relief that came over him from getting it out and being able to have me hold him and listen to him was indescribable. His countenance changed. He asked my opinion and listened intently to my every word. I had earned his trust, and he felt accepted and loved; He knew that he belonged.

I don’t know if there is anything more substantial or more impactful that we as parents can give our kids, as they are entering these teen years, than a true sense of belonging and acceptance and extreme love, care and support.

The rejection, hostility, ridicule and sarcasm that our teens face in their worlds create heaps of inferiority, shame, regret, and frustration that overwhelm them. Most of the time, they aren’t self-sware enough to know what they feel, let alone why they feel it. Inevitably, they lash out at their families.

These years are going to be stocked full of mood swings and raging hormones. The last thing my boys need is me taking it all personally. I’m determined to be their biggest fan and their soft place to land.

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    1. Praying for you in these early years.
      You’ll blink and he’ll be a teenager.
      The days are long but the years are short. 🙂

  1. This seems like great advice with my kindergartener as well. She is navigating new places, relationships, rules. It really is exhausting to spend the whole day trying to keep your hands to yourself, pay attention, don’t talk to you friends and do the work. Thanks for the encouragement.

    1. This sense of belonging and acceptance starts when our kiddos are your sweet girl’s age. Praying for you as you thrive at being her soft place to land.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing, Tara! My boys are 8 and 4 and I am really working on getting to know them and how they tick so I can stop trying to pry my way into their hearts too. Its hard for me to know when to push and when to step back and give them space. And I never thought I’d have to sift through the moodiness with boys! I love what you said about “not taking it personally.” Amen. I so want our home to be the place they can come to for complete acceptance and love. A place they know they belong. I pray God helps me make that home.

    1. Praying with you, Paige, as you provide a sense of belonging for your boys.
      These boys that we’ve been given are precious.
      I’ll agree..I didn’t expect emotions and mood swings either!

  3. I love this, Tara! My girls are 11 and 8 and we’ve been working through how to handle anxiety. The best advice we’ve been given is to WAIT on our girls to come talk to us. This was so hard for me at first. It still is, but the rewards are immeasurable! My oldest is so much more open with me know because she doesn’t feel like I’m pouncing on her when she feels her worst.

    1. Not prying my way into their hearts is a huge lesson for me to learn…
      But you’re right, the rewards are immeasurable.

  4. making me cry! Even at 5 years old I can see we have many tears in our future with our son. It’s hard to be a kid in today’s world. You’re such an amazing mother, Tara! <3 Thanks for the inspiration tonight.

    1. Beth! Thank you for stopping by!! Honored!
      God has given you everything you need to parent that sweet boy of yours…there will most certainly be tears, but lots of hugs and “I’m sorrys” to make those tears sweeter.

  5. I absolutely LOVE this. Walking a similar walk with my tween daughter. Thanks Sweet Tara and Courtney! Pinning now!

  6. If I can wipe away the tears, maybe I can write. You just wrote the words right out of my heart. Thank you for reminding me that I want to be a soft place to land for my girls. Yesterday, I let the older one have it. She was so ugly to her sister from the minute we all reunited until the minute she went to bed. Broke my heart, but instead of offering her a soft heart, I unloaded an angry, “I’ve had it up to here” heart. Praying for God’s grace over both of us right this very minute. It’s never about the surface stuff. The heart is so much deeper than that. Lord, may your deep call unto our deep. Love you, girl!

    1. Linsey! I adore your honesty.
      It’s so refreshing…sometimes us mamas can fear admitting bad days with our kids.
      The truth is…there are plenty of bad days…plenty of days when we’re all “at each other” from the time we get up until the time we go to bed.
      But, what a treasure those days are that we see beyond the emotions and catch a glimpse of their hearts.
      Praying with you as you lead those girls and love them through these hard years!
      Praying we both THRIVE in our relationships with these boys and girls!
      Love you!

  7. Really love this post Tara! We’ve had a few “bad days” also and its tough to navigate. Thanks for the encouragement!

  8. Tara, there is so much truth here.
    As the mom of a 14, soon to be 15
    year old boy, I’ve been there, and
    with his sister, before him. Truly
    the greatest gift that we as moms
    can offer is to listen. Beautiful words
    from your beautiful heart.

    xo Suzanne (privetandholly.com)

  9. Tara,
    I’ve been off the blog world for a while with the craziness of life and this post made my first day back so worth it. Wow. Just loved this. Thank you.

  10. Oh, Tara. I feel like I’m looking into my future. A few months ago I wrote about how Hudson doesn’t open up to his much and tell us things about his day. He’s 4. But one day he just started telling us how someone hurt his feelings. The room was quiet and I knew in that moment that he felt safe and like he could trust us. I can see from your story that this is how it’s going to be with these boys for a while longer. You are a wonderful mom and I love your heart.

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