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Parenting Tips from Mom Jonas

Everyone knows the Jonas Brothers. Now meet their mom, Denise, who shares some tips on how to raise happy kids in this inspiring story.

Inspiring story of Jonas Brothers mom

Believe it or not, no one is famous in the Jonas household.

Yes, I’m blessed to have four very talented sons you might have heard of. But the challenges I had raising them are like what all moms face. I had to discipline and encourage them, set boundaries and bring them up with good values. I had to tolerate their tussling and correct them when they made mistakes.

I also learned from my mistakes. When you raise kids, you grow a lot too. Most of all, I had to make sure they knew they were loved. Love is the greatest value of all.

Recently I became a spokesperson (you could call me a spokesmom) for a website called iMom. It’s a quick, easy place for busy moms to go for solid parenting advice, some of which I used raising my kids and some I could’ve used!

Let ’em have fun.
With four boys I quickly found out rugs are like tumbling mats and a sofa will be turned into a fort. I remember being in the kitchen once and wondering if a football team had invaded the living room.

“Rug time,” I called it. I thought of it as rearranging the furniture without a license. But you know what? My husband, Kevin, made sure no one got hurt and the boys released a lot of pent-up energy. So forget the Hummel figurines for now. Let your kids have fun. And have fun with them.

Never mind the hair.
Hair is a battlefield. My boys have my hair—as every interviewer likes to point out. Thick and curly, thanks to my Italian heritage. For some reason every teenage boy likes to try something crazy with their hair. They let it grow so long you can’t see their eyes or they iron it straight. Or they put so much goop on it it’s as alluring as a porcupine.

Every mom has a moment where she wants to attack her son’s hair with a comb or clippers. Resist. You have to choose your battles. Hair isn’t all that important. What matters is what’s underneath.

Buy the drum set.
The most valuable thing a parent can do is nurture your kids’ gifts. Your daughter wants to play softball? Find a team. Your son likes to sing? Listen.

The boys grew up surrounded by music. Kevin, Sr. (our oldest is also Kevin), is an amazing vocalist and songwriter. He was the pastor and worship leader at our church, so the boys learned all his songs (you should hear them mimic him—they love to tease).

Nick was the most precocious musically. At age three, he wandered around the house, asking, “Do you hear that? Do you hear the music?” Then he’d burst out with some song.

One day when he was eight a lady heard him at the salon where I was getting my hair done. “That kid should be on Broadway,” she said. She introduced us to a manager and soon Nick was performing six nights a week in shows like Les Miserables and Beauty and the Beast.

It wasn’t easy sending him off to be with people I didn’t know—his dad usually drove him into New York from our house in New Jersey. I worried. But I knew I had to help Nick believe in himself. He learned more about music and performing than we could ever teach him and he met kids who shared his passion. Me? I learned to trust in the gifts God had given Nick and help him realize his talent.

Stay connected.
Not every phone call or text message you send to your teenagers is going to be returned. Don’t stop sending messages. Kids need to know you love them. I even buy cards for the boys when they’re on the road.

And it’s so touching when they connect to you. Two weeks ago I came home to a bouquet of flowers and a card from Joe. All he wanted to say was: “I love you, Mom.” It made my day. In our house you can never say “I love you” too much.

Be the mom.
You’re not the best friend. You’re the mom. Set limits and an example. Anyone can be a friend. Only the mom can be the mom. Sometimes that’s difficult. My kids are responsible and hard-working. I’ll worry I’m being too strict or I’m not trusting them enough.

For instance, not long ago the boys were performing one night and Frankie, our youngest, begged to join them. He’d been sick all week. I thought, He’s not well yet. He shouldn’t go. Then I backed down. Frankie wanted so badly to join his brothers, I hated to disappoint him.

He went to the rehearsal…and crashed. At the hotel I tucked him into bed. “Mom,” he said, “you were right. I needed to stay home. I’m sorry I didn’t listen.” It was sweet to hear those words. Balm to any mom’s ears. But I should’ve held my ground. He needed me to set limits. To be the mom.

Step back.
One of my favorites of the boys’ songs is called “Pushing Me Away.” Every time they do it in concert, I get choked up because it speaks to one of my weaknesses as a mom.

I’m passionate and strong-willed—my Italian blood again. I want to be front and center in my kids’ lives. I have opinions about everything. I have a lot of influence with them. All the more reason I sometimes need to step back and let God do the most important work. Don’t push him out of the way! Which brings me to my last point.

My mom was a prayer warrior when I was growing up and taught me to trust God. Still, letting go can be scary.

Several years ago Nick started losing weight. On a school retreat, Joe saw that his brother wasn’t doing well. “When we went swimming,” he said, “he looked like a skeleton.”

We took Nick to the hospital, and he was diagnosed with diabetes. For several nights, while doctors worked at getting his insulin levels in check, I sat by his hospital bed, praying. “Lord,” I asked, “what’s your purpose here? What’s going to happen to Nick? Will he ever perform again?” I could remember seeing the joy on his face those first times he performed on Broadway. Why would God deny him something that was so clearly his gift?

In the dim morning light, I reminded myself there was only one thing to do. Trust. Let go. It’s the hardest thing for any mom, but we can’t allow God to do his work unless we give up our control.

Today, Nick performs with a small insulin pump attached to his back. He’s got a wireless device that he keeps in his pocket to monitor levels. There are worries of course. Will the pump work? Do we have a back-up pump? Do we have shots with us when he’s on tour?

When the fears get the worst of me, I pray—fiercely and fervently. I love my kids, but God loves them just as much if not more. I remember how my mom prayed for me, and I pray for them. That they’re safe in God’s hands. That they’ll be well. That they’ll make good choices. That they’ll know, no matter what, they have a mom who believes in them and knows when to let go and let God.

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