I love my teenagers. They are fun, and I love spending time hanging out with them. When it comes to parenting teenagers, there’s a learning curve. I’m still the parent. And I still have the responsibility to protect my children and provide guidelines for them that help them make good choices. Soon, though, they will be on their own and have the ability to make adult decisions without my guidance. I won’t be able to micromanage who they hang out with, how long they spend texting or on social media, or how often they choose to study. I won’t be there to wait up for them at night or to wake them up for church on Sunday morning. I do believe it’s my job as a parent to prepare them to make good choices on their own when I’m not around. Of course, right now, they’re still at home. They are not yet free to abandon the rules that we have set for our household. However, when it comes to choices teenagers make, I can no longer dictate to them what to do in some situations anymore. And that’s a hard transition for me. When things aren’t as black and white as protecting a little toddler hand from touching the stove or playing with an electrical outlet this parenting thing is trickier. I’m learning more and more that the most important thing to do as a parent is to teach my children to love God. If that happens, everything else should theoretically fall into place.
As my children are growing, I’ve been trying to shift from telling them how to handle things to providing a more open space for discussions. Instead of immediately answering their questions, reply with my own. “What do you think about that?” or “How does that make you feel?” Keeping the lines of communication open with your teens is huge. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes as a parent, but one thing I feel (and hope) that my husband and I have done well is talking with out kids. We want our kids to come to us in any situation knowing that they can trust us to love them unconditionally. They know that we will give them advice, yes. But it will be advice based on Biblical principles, the overall picture (which is oftentimes clouded for teenagers) and on what we believe is best for them. It’s so hard to watch your children hurt. But hurting is part of life and our trials and our hurt help define us. My job is not to “fix” it, as much as I want to sometimes – but to help them through it. It’s my hope that times of hurt will be learning experiences that help them learn to lean on God.
As a Christian parent, I have to put my faith in God and trust that His plan for my child is perfect, even if it’s not the plan I come up with. Of course I want that plan to be the one that has fewer heartaches for my children, but it might not be. God works in ways we don’t understand, and sometimes we have to go through some pretty horrific things before we draw closer to Him. I pray daily that he shields my children from those things. But ultimately, it’s out of my hands.
Prayer has become a huge part of accepting this change in parenting for me. I pray for each of my daughters every day. I pray for their future. I pray God’s hedge of protection in their lives. I pray that He will keep them from evil and help them make good choices. I pray for their future spouses. I pray that somewhere out there are boys being trained and raised in Godly homes that God is preparing specifically for my daughters. Boys that will become men and will walk alongside my daughters and help them be strong in their faith and encourage them to love God and put him first in their lives and in their marriages. I pray my daughters will love God. That they will chose the Christian path. That they will remain close as adults – close to one another and close to Kevin and I. And probably hardest of all for me, I pray that if my children are not coming to me, I pray that the counsel they seek is wise.
I am so blessed to be the mom of three amazing girls. I know that I’m going to blink and all this crazy that is my normal daily life right now will be gone and I’ll be sitting in a quiet home. So, I try to remember that every day with my girls is a gift to treasure. I want to make the most of the time we have left before my little birds leave the nest. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m hanging in there. So far, my daughters are awesome in spite of my screw-ups. I hope in some way these thoughts have been an encouragement to you. After all, it takes a village. We’re all in this together.