I can’t even listen to a cool song anymore!

Now that I’m a mother, I can’t even listen to a cool song without it triggering fears of my girls one day making cliche teenage mistakes.

The other night while working and listening to my friend’s channel on blip.fm, I heard the song Chillout Tent by The Hold Steady.

I loved the sound of the song. And this video rocked a funky simplicity. But the lyrics painted a picture that made me want to cling to my 2 and 4 year old girls and beg them not to grow up.

As I listen to the song again today, the images in my mind make me want to grab hold of my girls and plead with them to be different from the rest… to laugh in the face of the cliche of peer pressure.

I want them to make the same decisions I made!

(That may surprise some of you… Do you want your children to make the same decisions you did? I think some might not… LOL… Tell me about it in the comments… or better yet write a post and link to it in the comments.)

I know my girls are completely different little human beings — entirely separate from me — and that they’re going to have lives radically different from mine. Still, I can’t help but want them to get through high school as unscathed as I did.

I look back at my high school years, and I’m actually really proud of myself. And I’m thankful. Profoundly thankful for everything in my childhood and my life that helped me make good decisions and have a fun teenage experience without any of the crap that often spoils those years.

I want so desperately for my girls to have fun as teenagers but still to grow spiritually and avoid the very real dangers that lay waiting for teenage girls.

I try to piece together what gave me such confidence to laugh in the face of peer pressure. What helped me to be friends with everyone but toss aside the temptations and negative influences?

I never did drugs, never ended up with my head in the toilet from drinking too much, and I never showed up at school to have everyone whispering that I’d slept with so-and-so. I watched and supported my friends during all that typical drama, but I never let it happen to me.

I don’t say any of that to brag.

Not at all. Please do NOT take it that way.

I say it because now, as a mother, I want to figure out how and why I made those good choices and how I can help steer my girls towards safe waters too.

So I look back and I try to learn. And I’m asking you too… so that we can learn together.

I think the main reason I made good choices as a teenager was my faith.

I was NOT a model Christian… I struggled with swearing, was guilty of gossip, and slept in countless Sunday mornings.

But I had a profound personal relationship with God where I felt I could talk to Him all day long — about everything — I just had a running conversation with Him. And I still do!

Because of that constant conversation, it made making the wrong choices pretty hard. I felt God was right next to me and it would be pretty stupid to do drugs with God sitting one chair over.

That’s not to say I didn’t make wrong choices… come on… of course I made them constantly, and I still do. But I managed to avoid the big ones… the teenage biggies… those premeditated decisions like, “I’m going to pop this pill, I’m going to get drunk and puke my gutts out and make a fool of myself, I’m going to date this guy when I know he’s wrong for me.”

Choices like those were big enough that I didn’t feel cool doing that stuff while I was hanging out with God.

(I actually often think of how I had a closer relationship with God back then as I leaned on him constantly to get me through those days. And now, as a busy work-at-home mom when my challenges are more mundane and the busyness of life keeps me from my Bible, I have let my relationship with God weaken quite a lot.)

So definitely my faith and my relationship with God was the number one reason I made it through high school without regrets.

But there’s more than that… because countless strong Christian kids still fall victim to the teenage years. Why didn’t I? (Or my twin sister Janice… this post could almost have been written by her, since we basically had the same experiences.)

Another piece of the puzzle that helped me immeasurably was to have a huge group of friends outside of my school friends.

I had friends that I loved from church and I was connected with a network of Christian kids through a summer camp. We met in the summer, but hung out all year long. My friend group there was so much bigger and more exciting than the kids at school.

So while I had friends at school, I wasn’t that invested in those relationships. And I didn’t feel that I needed to impress them or do anything to stay part of the group. Weekends were my time to hang out with my other friends — the ones I loved more.

And that was huge.

Those Christian friends were (most of the time) also making good decisions. Together we went to rock concerts without doing drugs. Together we hung out until 3 am but stayed safe the whole time. (Okay, yes, it was with my Christian friends that I experimented with smoking… but it was only cigarettes and after a month I tossed that habit aside.)

Kids need friends. Teenage girls need GOOD friends!

I was so blessed with quality friends outside of the high-school social pecking order.

And for my girls, I will be trying very hard to give them opportunities like my summer camp experiences, where they can create true friendships that will carry them through the high-school drama.

But again… I knew Christian girls with great Christian friends who still ended up making those cliche choices.

There was something more…

Another fundamental reason… self-confidence.

I had a remarkable self-confidence. I talked about that confidence in a video interview with Gwen Bell. And that self-confidence is the tough piece that I want to try to emulate in my daughters.

I was not the prettiest girl in school. But it didn’t matter. I had a confidence deep down that made me attractive. I didn’t need to be hanging off the arm of the high-school basketball star to feel cool, I felt cool by myself. Sure, I had boyfriends and I had fun crushes but it was all so secondary to me… no guy ever defined me.

And it wasn’t even that I made an explicit choice to not let a guy define me, it just didn’t happen. I just felt complete anyway.

Yes, I fell in love. Fell hard a few times. I fell out of love. I had crushes that killed. I flirted. A lot. I chased guys just for the chase and had fun knowing they wanted me and wouldn’t get me. I had fun. Tons of fun.

When I look back at my teenage years, that’s mostly what I remember. Fun. (That and a lot of homework because I was a perfectionist and had to get straight A’s.)

Again, I was not a perfect teenager and I was not a perfect Christian… but when it came to the big stuff, I knew what mattered and I was confident to stand up for myself.

The self-confidence is the toughest piece of the puzzle. It is what I’m going to be trying to help form in my daughters.

It is what I’m trying to instill in them even now at 2 and 4. Because self confidence is something that starts when they’re small and grows slowly and, hopefully, grows steadily.

So, as a mom to my precious girls, I will pray daily for them for their faith, for true friendships and for their confidence.

And I’ll pray that they stay out of the chillout tent.

But enough about me…

Tell me your story…

Did you feel confident in high school?
What did your life look like back then?
Is it what you want for your kids?
How do you plan to help your kids avoid teenage pitfalls?

Written by Susan, co-founder of 5 Minutes for Mom.
You get our feed, right?


  1. says

    I PRAY that my kids do not go through most of what I did at a teen. Some not within my control (family alcoholism, mother battle with cancer) but many that were. I believed in God then but wasn’t yet a Christian with a relationship with Christ. As I bring up my kids in the faith I hope that this will prevent them from straying too far and feeling the hurts of teen pregnancy, substance use, depression and suicide attempts, all things I went through!

  2. says

    It is indeed scary to be raising children up in society today. My daughter turned 16 this summer. I wish she was still three at times. Parenting a teenager has been one heck of a roller coaster and I still have a few years to go with my daughter. And my son is 10 years behind her.
    Wishing you a scent-sational day!

  3. says

    Being the oldest of 4 girls, I was the first to do everything and for my parents to take notes on what not to do next time.

    I was actually a good kid and a leader which scares me to death with my 2 boys who are 15 & 14 because they are followers. I worry every minute of the day for them. They are great kids but I feel they are TOO trusting and fearless.

    My parents were really strict and I thank GOD everyday for that because my friends did NOT. The thing they did wow and for fear & respect of my parents I didn’t drink , didn’t experiment with drugs, or smoke. it wasn’t until age 29 for me that I really started to enjoy a drink now and then with my girlfriends and family.

    My parents weren’t really religious but we did categorize ourselves as catholics but never went to church. But I think with the strong family values they instilled in me I can try to help my boys through this thing CALLED high school and peer pressure.


  4. says

    I’m a lot like you actually – I was very God-focused as a teen and am happy when I look back. Not that I didn’t make mistakes, of course, but as a whole I went unscathed. I was also homeschooled and loved it.

    I don’t really have any plans yet when it comes to helping my daughter avoid teenage pitfalls, but being open and honest, giving her a secure place at home, and not filling our house with movies and attitudes that encourage sins that ruin people’s lives will be some of our plans of action. I won’t expect her to be perfect, but will be praying for her constantly as she grows up.

    I honestly haven’t thought that far yet so I’m finding it hard to articulate. lol Great post!

  5. says

    I stumbled upon your blog while looking for parenting blogs, and I found this post to hit right at the heart of something that my girl friends and I were discussing one Moms Night Out. I too have never felt compelled to do anything “wild,” especially not in high school. A good bit of that might just be inherent in my personality, but a lot of it is the unconditional support from my parents, extended family. A good group of friends was helpful too. My parents were strict, but never in an overbearing way, enough for guidelines of what they expected as good behavior. I find myself parenting my kids in the same way.

  6. says

    I was exactly that way too Susan! I DO hope that my kids will have as good a head on my shoulders as I did (although there are things that I hope they will avoid!!).

    I have a strong faith now, but in high school I was never sure why, but I think it’s the self-confidence thing, which I’m also trying to develop in my kids.

    Great post!

  7. says

    Though I wasn’t a Christian until after high school, I avoided those teenage pitfalls simply because I wasn’t interested in doing those things. Now that my kids are 12 and 9, we have to start thinking about the teenage years. We homeschool and do everything as a family. The kids read their Bibles a lot and learn from the Proverbs and other passages about what to do or avoid in life. Finding a good church and surrounding ourselves with godly friends are also at the top of our list.

  8. Carole Martin says

    I really struggle with this! I too was blessed to be raised in a Christian home, going to summer camp, surrounded by good Chrstian friends. I too skipped many of the pitfalls – never touched drugs, wasn’t a partier, could stay out until 3 AM but not be getting into trouble. But I really want this for my kids too. I stuggle with how to raise them in a Christian home and instill in them these ideals. I think this is one of the areas we just need to lean on the Lord to guide us, and for us to trust in him that he’ll lead our children straight.

  9. says

    Well, I am not sure how I turned out the way I did. My home life was very hard as a tween/teen. I lived in a very emotionally abusive home….with a lot of negativity. My dad pushed me to work hard and do everything well. I did a lot of performing as a teenager. I remember after concerts, I would watch my friends get hugs from their dads and hear that their parents were proud of them. My dad would just point out to me where I faulted, and what I should work on.

    I was bullied a lot in school from 4th grade on. I had very low self-esteem. I only had a few friends. I really think music and God is what kept me from ever desiring to try drugs, drink have an eating disorder, have sex.

    I had very strong morals. I became saved at the age of 12, after attending a concert with a friend of mine. In high school, I was very involved in my church youth group..even though my parents were not going to church and insisting to me that I was in a cult.

    I sang a lot…music made everything better….and I felt God’s presence in my life. I wanted to live a life that would be pleasing in His eyes. I also thought about my future children. My boyfriend in high school, who is now my husband, and I were very serious. But I waited to have sex with him..because I knew I could never ask my kids not to have sex in high school if I did.

    So I guess I always weighed the consequences of everything..from how it would affect me in the present, how it would affect me in the future, and how it would affect my relationship with God.

    Anyway, that’s my novel for you!

  10. says

    so I guess I hope to teach my kids to think about the consequences of their actions.

    Oh and I work hard on showing them lots of love, encouragement and acceptance.

  11. says

    @OrganizingMommy – LOL… the song is about a couple of teenagers who went to a rock concert and took too many drugs. They ended up passing out and being taken to the “chill out tent” — which is just an area with doctors that give them medical treatment.

    The kids get their stomachs pumped and get IV’s to clear their systems and then they wake up. They’re okay… they’re just messed up on too many drugs.

    But my post was just using that poor choice of taking drugs as an example of the stupid and often dangerous decisions some teenagers make.

  12. says

    I think the chill out tent is where people go when they have taken too many pills/drugs/mushrooms whatever. I think the 2 kids in the song died in the tent after they had OD’d.

    I have two teenage boys and I don’t know how to handle the whole boy girl interaction thing. I don’t want to be heavy handed because I remember being driven to rebellion. I also don’t want to be permissive. Darn, I found it easy to be a mom when they were babies, toddlers, preschoolers, elementary schoolers, but high schoolers??? Hard stuff.

  13. says

    Have no fear! Great music is here!! I found this blog and almost died wanting to tell every one of my momma friends that this is the real deal. our favorite rockers (i.e. queen, aerosmith, the cure, beatles ect…) turned into lullabies! This is the coolest idea and I just had to share! Please enjoy!

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