After my Teenage Boy posts, my friend, Terri Holladay, did indeed send me a private in-depth email. I loved it so much that I asked her if it would be okay for me to post it here, for you other moms to read. She happily agreed.
Terri is amazing. She and her husband, Chris, have five boys, all wonderful kids, really. I got to teach the youngest two in Primary when I lived in Show Low, and now the youngest is serving his mission. She was the mother who gave me the idea of offering to pay the kids $5000 if they didn't kiss by their 18th birthday. I think of her often, and how well she balanced the role of parent and friend to her children. Here are her words of encouragement and advice to me, and to you.
Jenna - first of all I am really flattered that you would ask me for advice - I do have five eagle scouts, five missionaries, four temple marriages and three college graduates - but I sure am NOT an expert! And yes it is normal and you will be fine! You already have the biggest thing going for you - that is the gospel is LIVED in your home, you love your children, you care and worry about where they are, who they hang out with, what they are doing, etc etc. and you strive to have daily communication with them. In the end, I think that was my best ally - just talking to them. No matter what, I could always get them to talk to me - eventually. Sometimes they want to do that independence thing - but in the end -Boys NEED their Mommies! I would often stay up late with them and just talk - much to the chagrin of their father who would be totally ticked about me keeping them up late (he was and still is a total bed Nazi!). But I did it anyway, and that is what kept us going.
I also think you have a handle on the other thing that I think is so important and that is consistency and accountability. We had rules and we STUCK to them - come heck or high water if you get my drift. The curfew was always 11:30 - not 11:31 - no discussion - if you make the choice to come in late, you will have to pay the consequence - this isn't being mean - this is teaching accountability - and it worked. They had many disappointments but they learned - they were mad, but they got happy again! In the end it taught them obedience and it sure made some great missionaries!
I am sure you know that 95% of Eagle scouts serve missions - so it is super important to complete that. We are not scouting lovers at all. But we did it because it helps them get on missions and THAT is important. They did learn great things and it has been a blessing - but love it - we didn't. But we did it and earlier was much better - you are on track. The first three were done before 16 - and Skippy just before 18 - no good! Do it early with all of them - much easier!
Jenna - you are an amazing person and a wonderful mother - I don't worry at all that your children will be faithful but it isn't easy as you know! I had to give a talk in church in June and the topic was "How to prepare to send sons on missions" I guess up my alley! Anyway, I asked each of the boys to tell me what THEY thought helped them go on missions - they said that "church attendance was always a priority" "you always talked about when I would go on a mission - not if" "praying every single day in family prayer that we would go on a mission" "being there for me in all my activities in school, church, etc - I knew I was important" Those are a few - as they moved down the line, the example of the older brothers was HUGE. Especially for Skippy - he surely did not want to be the only brother to not be an eagle, or not go on a mission - that was a very big motivator for him - so it will be a huge bonus when Dylan goes. I also give a lot of credit to Tim - he was an amazing older brother - such a great kid - believe me though he had some "attitude" with a capital A at about 15. Wow! We even have it on video! He is so embarrassed now - but hey he is human!
So hang in there - keep doing what you are doing - love them! It will work out I promise! Oh one other HUGE thing - good friends really help! How Sean ever made it on a mission I still am wondering - he just did not have great friends - not many active kids his age - but he had the brother influence and he and Skippy were best friends - so that helped a ton.
I admire you and love you!