AOP: December is filled with holiday festivities. Do you have any special traditions that you and your family are looking forward to?
EM: One of the most important traditions we have is just spending time together over the holiday break. As the boys get older they are involved in many more activities which is wonderful, but keeps us busy. Our family has enjoyed many holiday traditions throughout the years. One of our most favorite traditions is making homemade sugar cookies and decorating them. We also enjoy listening to Christmas music while we decorate our Christmas tree.
AOP: How do you navigate having two boys in the pre-teen/teen stages of life?
EM: Navigating through the teenage years is not always easy, but my husband and I try to keep communication open and honest. We encourage them to talk about any concerns they have. We have appropriate expectations and boundaries. We feel that trust is crucial, but at the same time, we respect their privacy. We do have to revisit behavioral expectations as they mature, and you have to be open to having reasonable discussions about this. We also encourage them to take on responsibilities and make decisions within reason. We show interest in their hobbies and passions and encourage them to try new things. We offer guidance, not judgment. Be patient with them; adolescents can be a roller coaster of emotions. Remember that every child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Our two boys have very different personalities. We encourage them to talk about their feelings, concerns, and experiences.
AOP: How do you deal with the transition of your children growing up?
EM: Dealing with the transition of your children growing up can be emotionally challenging, but it’s a natural part of parenthood. Recognize that as your children grow, their needs, interests, and independence will change. I think it’s important to stay connected with open communication. We want our children to make their own decisions and it’s also helps them build confidence.
AOP: How do you handle difficult or unexpected situations with your children?
EM: It’s important to stay calm and model the behavior you want your children to observe. I would encourage parents to listen to their teenagers. Sometimes they just want you to listen and then offer problem solving skills together. Learn and grow together, isn’t that what we are doing anyway?
AOP: What has been the most rewarding experience you have had as a mother?
EM: The most rewarding experience I have had as a mother is watching my children grow into young men who are responsible, caring, independent and kind.
AOP: How do you encourage your children to pursue their passions and interests?
EM: I think it’s very important to create a positive environment and that starts in the home. I also like to offer support and encouragement even if their interests change over time. It’s also essential to be a good listener and provide feedback when needed. Patience is also key in this area, as they grow so will their interests.
AOP: How do you help your children navigate social relationships and peer pressure?
EM: Teach them critical thinking and to consider the consequences of their actions, especially when influenced by a peer. Stay informed about their social circle and the challenges they may face. Teenagers are seeking their independence, so we have to be a safe place for them.
AOP: What advice would you give to mothers who may be struggling with their parenting journey?
EM: I would encourage all mothers to enjoy the journey. Our children grow up so fast. That’s easier to say when you are not changing diapers and wiping up sticky messes many times a day. However, when they are teenagers they will need you just as much, if not more. Take in the moment and don’t take everything so seriously. Have fun! You and your children are only this age for so long.
Emily Matz and her husband, Brad, are high school sweethearts. They have been married for 17 years and together for 25. Their sons, Graham (15) and Reid (11), are active in extra curricular activities like cross country and lacrosse. Emily has a degree in special education and is currently in her sixth year of teaching Little Explorers at Auburn Preschool. She truly loves teaching three years olds because of their ability to absorb everything like sponges.