Why Being “The Cool Mom” Isn’t the Goal

I don’t try to gain accolades from Gen Z-ers. Really. I’m a geek if there ever was one. A middle-aged minivan mom who watches Great British Baking Show and knits and has a great fondness for plants and quilts and documentaries. As I write this, I am wearing elephant pajama pants, an “I ❤️Coffee” sweatshirt and a fuzzy pink bathrobe. Not really a cool mom wardrobe.

And if you have ever been around me, you know that I’m am not out to make friends with my kids. I’m the mom, and that relationship should be more than a mere friendship for my kids. The months I carried them and the hours of labor and the extra weight I’ve gained on their behalf means we are more than friends. We are family.

But there are things that I think and do intentionally to keep an open line of communication for my kids. I try to learn their lingo. They think it is dorky when I throw shade, but I remind them that they are just recycling trends from my day. Word.

Photo by Neringa Šidlauskaitė on Unsplash

I do sniff around social media to understand trends and fads and things that I notice the kids take an interest in. The Biblical challenge to be “harmless as doves but wise as serpents” I take to heart.

The realization is that I am not training children to be reclusive. While I do not want them adopting every societal more out there, I do need to train them to engage the culture we live in to reach them for Christ. It requires hard conversations about personal standards and self control and spiritual discernment.

My husband and I do not talk down to our kids. We let them have opinions and ask their ideas. We value their thoughts within reason. We use the knowledge we gain to have meaningful discussions about music, social media, modesty, relationships and more.

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Because of my acquired knowledge, I have often heard that I am the “cool mom.” I am honored that my kids’ friends think of me that way. Not because I was a dork growing up (true) and am looking for validation in the next generation that insists on wearing socks with sandals. (Just. No. Not again.)

No, the reason that I will accept this badge is because I know that they know I am a mom they can talk to who will listen. I will not shut them down. We parents spend a lot of time eye rolling and dismissing our kids without trying to understand the whys. Ironically, we spend a great deal of mental energy trying to pass along traditions that they don’t understand because we don’t share the whys.

And there is balance here. Be Biblical. Be the parent. You do know more about life than they do and always will just by nature of your 20+ year age gap. Your kids ought to respect you as an authority. Rules you have for them have purpose.

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But do keep a door of communication open. Don’t just bury your head in the sands of time and refuse to see or know anything about this current generation. That is dwelling in ignorance instead of knowledge, and it does no service in cultivating a good relationship with your children. It does nothing to help you disciple them to reach a world that desperately needs Jesus.

You don’t have to start wearing joggers and socks with sandals (please don’t.) or use a hydro flask or randomly spew out the word “yeet.” (Although it can be fun…) The basic challenge is to learn about the world your kids live in so that you can effectively help them navigate it according to God’s Word.

Being a Ministry Mama

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Sometimes, as I look at women around me, I covet. I see the strong, confident, trim mom on Shark Tank promoting her product that is already successful and yet helps the poor. I see my neighbor, teaching special needs children during the day and taking college courses at night, all while raising her kids. I see the friend, in a similar situation to me, seemingly together and able to help others take care of their children.

I sit here and struggle to have a cup of coffee in the morning.

And I wonder, “What is my purpose, other than raising kids?”

Motherhood is a calling and an important one. But it isn’t the only calling women have. I believe that when we focus all our energy on our kids and leave nothing for serving others and God Himself, we set a bad example. Not only that, we neglect another level to our relationship with Christ.

When I start into this coveting, I remember the things that God has put in my path. The funny thing about coveting is that it gives us amnesia to the good things that are often right in front of our faces. That’s why reminding and remembering are so important.

I teach. I love teaching God’s Word to older children. It’s a gift that God gave me and I am so thankful He did.

But sometimes I diminish in my mind the role I play. I think, “Well, that is only for church… I need to do something BIGGER than church.”

I forget that the church is the vehicle Christ uses to edify the believer. It is an important ministry. It is often neglected or abused. The church is important, if for no other reason than that Christ says it is important. He doesn’t institute useless things.

So every Wednesday, I come to church and these girls come. Sometimes I only have four in my class. Other times it might be twelve. My friends and I take turns teaching them the truth of the Gospel. Some get saved. Others are still thinking about it. But relationships blossom in this place.

These girls are not all “churched”. I love it. They are honest and real and they remind me to be sure that the things I do have a good reason and not just a rote answer. They want to know why I am telling them something contrary to their school learning or what their priest says. I get to point them to the Bible.

These girls come from different home situations. Some have a great family. Others have no dad, either through death, divorce or imprisonment. Many… too many… are just left to themselves with no one who really cares.

I get to be the one who cares. Our time together is not just Bible for an hour and a half. We listen to their stories, their concerns. The things that no one listens to them about. We give them a safe, caring place to be. We do our best to show them the love of Jesus.

We think ministering to kids needs to be loud and flashy, with lots of entertainment and little substance. I disagree. It’s really about getting down to their level (genuinely, not condescendingly) and showing them love and being honest with them. It can be messy, and you won’t get through to all of them. But in the end, it is hard to argue with the love of Jesus.

My ministry in the local church isn’t BIG. It ain’t fancy. But God is working to bring these precious ones to Himself.

So while I look at the “Super Moms” who are being successful and doing big things in the world, I just have to stop and remember not to diminish my own gifts and my own calling. Even the mighty oak starts out as a seed.

Where a Tween Belongs

I have never liked the term “tween.” I guess I should say I’ve never liked the determining ages for the “tween” years. Depending on where you are googling, the tween years can start as early as 7. That’s first and second grade. I don’t know about you, but my kids are not mentally close to being a teenager at that age. I understand that kids mature at different ages, but when something is six years off, it seems a little far fetched to call them immerging teens.

That being said, I do have two girls that fall into the tween category. It’s a little bittersweet to me, as is every stage my children enter. This stage really gets me though, because it wasn’t a super fun time in my own childhood. Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t awful or anything like that, but it isn’t a place I would want to relive. And I want to do my best to make it better for my kids.

You see, I was kinda dorky. I didn’t know where I belonged or fit in and so I was just wandering. It went so far in my life that I started wearing things and doing things that weren’t my favorite, but I did them because I wanted to be a part of a group. It took me a long to time to decide for myself what I enjoyed and where I fit in.

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Natalie and friends lookin’ groovy!

Human nature wants to belong to someone or something. This is not a sinful thing in and of itself. It’s a fact. We were created for fellowship and belonging. In these “tween” years though, we can look for acceptance and belonging in all the wrong places.

I desire my girls to be assured that their deepest longing for belonging is found in Christ. Not in me. Not in their dad. Not in friends or even their church, but in God alone. When the gospel is applied to their lives in every area, it is a game changer.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:3-6

I like how the King James words the last part of verse 6. It says that Christ has made us “accepted in the Beloved.”

Accepted.

This is a word most women yearn for, let alone girls. To be accepted. And here’s the crazy thing: we ARE ALREADY accepted by Christ. We belong to God. He adopted us. He chose us. He wants us.

The truth of the matter is this: I don’t need to be accepted by my peers because I am already accepted by God. I belong to Him if I have trusted Christ as my Savior. When we embrace this truth and help our girls to embrace it as well, we can raise our tweens to be beautifully confident women who aren’t shaken by whatever trend or friend or circumstance prevails at the moment. We belong to the Creator and there is an immense amount of security in that.

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In a rare moment of peace…

So, besides teaching this beautiful truth to our tweenagers, what else can we do, as parents, to enforce this point?

Bring it home. Literally.

Make your home a place where they feel secure and accepted. I know this can be difficult, as times will come when their emotions don’t line up with reality. (Who hasn’t been there?)

Home ought to be a place where they don’t have to feel part of a clique. Where they can be who they are and learn to be comfortable in their skin. Adolescence is a time of awkwardness. Let them be awkward. Give them a safe place to talk about what is on their hearts and minds without fear of rebuke. Encourage them when their emotions get the better of them. Remind them of the life-affirming truth of God’s Word.

The other side of the balance is use this space for instruction too. Not condemning lectures, but how to handle mind, emotion and will. How to not take themselves too seriously. How to honor their parents and yet begin branching out to confirm their convictions and purpose. This all sounds lofty, but it really isn’t. It just involves being available, listening and excessive prayer for wisdom.

This also isn’t a license to accept sin in their lives. No, as a parent your job of rebuke and correction is not complete. We must steer them to the truth that we can’t let sin abound so grace abounds. (Romans 6)

I’m still figuring this tween thing out like many other parents out there, but I am determined to help my kids make it a time to enjoy and not loathe. And I think a huge hurdle to that goal is making sure they know they are accepted and loved. It isn’t necessarily about boosting self-esteem but more about growing a God-esteem in them. When they love and esteem God, they are going to love His creation – themselves.

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