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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Parenting Teens


I have always felt like I had a pretty good handle on parenting my kids.  That is until we hit the teen years.  I can’t believe how hard these years are.  Your kids are not children but they are not yet adults.  They live in this weird place called adolescence that has no place to fit into in the real world.

There is a Scripture verse that talks about “when I was child I spoke like a child, but then I gave up childish things.”  It seems to me these teen years get to be an extended stay in the world of child because there is no real place for them in the adult world. 

And because I never do things like everyone else, I am also choosing to parent my kids in a different way than most parents would do or be comfortable with.  I have always said that I don’t want my kids to feel the need to rebel against me.  I want them to make decisions about themselves, but informed decisions.  IN this way, they would have to rebel against themselves, not me. If you choose the action, you choose the consequence.  I guess it has been my parenting philosophy since they were little.  So we have many discussions about things in their life or in other people’s lives in hopes that they can make informed decisions about their own life.  But in the past few weeks (maybe months), this philosophy has been put to test for me the parent.

There have been a few incidents that have tested me in my parenting philosophy.  And I will be honest, my first gut reaction was to “clean house” and enforce control of the situation!!!  And that is what most parents do.  When we the parents see our kids doing something we are not comfortable with or that is against our own nature, we want to stop the presses and MAKE that child behave properly, to our standards or the world’s standards or God’s standards.  Right?  That is the gut reaction.

But I have been on a journey with God to come to some kind of understanding on how much of a gift and a risk it was to give us, His children, freewill… free choice.  And I have come to see how much pain and heartache God goes through because of us.  You see, in a way, this is how I am parenting my kids (or the way I want to parent my kids).  I give my kids free choice as well in most cases.  I want them to choose in ways so that it will go well with them.  That is what God does with us.  He wrote down in words His stories with His children for us to learn from.  Gave us “rules” to follow… not so He could control us, but so that we could avoid the uncomfortable and ugly things this life has to offer, that we can control in our lives.  I say “that we can control in our lives”, because there are many things we cannot control in our lives and rules don’t help us avoid them. 

So in parenting, I give my children guidelines, and I want them to choose to follow them.  Not so I can control them but so that it will go well with them.  But you know what… it is soooooooo hard.  And when they choose ways that are not okay with me, I WANT to control them, I really do.  But I know there is no learning in that, no long lasting benefit.  They follow the rule to avoid punishment but it does not affect their heart, nor bend it towards good.  I think in a way, it even gives Satan a foot hold in their lives, to work and manipulate their mind into thinking what a victim they are having to be controlled by someone else. 

Anyway, I feel like I am babbling.  I just needed to get my thoughts out in words.  But the reason I am processing all of this is…  You see yesterday, I came across something with one of my kids that made me want to control them.  It made me feel like I was a bad parent.  It made me question where I went wrong.  It made me question how this would make me look as a parent.  Do you hear it?  Me, me, me, me.  I was making this all about me.  This was not about me.  It was a moment where I needed to step back from me and look at the situation from a perspective where “me” wasn’t involved.  So if I looked at the situation like it was a friend that was making this choice, what would I do.  Because I cannot control what other people do.  So I did that and I prayed and this is what I did.  I figured out all I was to do was to speak truth about the situation, and give this person a moment to make a choice based on the truth that was spoken.  No control… only freewill, free choice.  It was risky and it hurt knowing a wrong choice could yet still be made… but a choice had to be made by the person not by me.  How it will turn out I can’t say for sure?  But I pray that they will choose wisely.

Choose the action, choose the consequence. 

Thank you God for freewill, for taking this risk with us.  Thank you for loving us even when we make the wrong choices and be there to pick us up and dust us off and walk with us yet again.  I am not sure how you do it.  As a parent, I find it extremely difficult.  But you are the example of perfect love.  I want to choose love in every situation I find myself in, even when it hurts.

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