Sunday, November 11, 2012

Before I was a parent, I filed away all the advice and words of wisdom I had heard and read over the years.  I took note of those who walked the path before me and decided what I would and wouldn't repeat when it was my turn.  After this week, I have come to terms with the fact (again) that I have a strong legalistic bend and still believe there is a formula that will result in a life of ease and comfort. Even though this has proved itself wrong over and over again, I still lean toward these patterns.  I have most recently been humbled by the judgmental attitude that exists in my heart toward others and their parenting styles. When I see kids make bad choices I always want to find a reason and the reason I find usually points back to the parents.  I have thought to myself "Well, what do they expect when they ___________________ (fill in the blank)??" Then how to I fill in that blank when the tables are turned???

What I have learned this week is that, as parents, we can give our kids all the right tools: setting boundaries and rules; knowing their friends and their friends' parents; keeping tabs on where they are and who they are with; training them in a spiritual faith and the knowledge of a Heavenly Father who loves them; praying for them daily; and keeping the lines of communication open.  Yet, in spite of all this, there are no guarantees because ultimately they need to decide who they want to be.  And even though the goal is independence and their faith and values have to become their own, it doesn't make it any less painful when they choose the opposite of what you have modeled.

One of the little tidbits I carried in the back of my mind was: "children who come from a broken home are twice as likely to engage in risky behavior."  I naively thought that since our two parent family is intact, my child would have no desire to make stupid decisions.  And yet he did.  Immediately, I went to "where did we go wrong?"  which is the most natural reaction, but I also needed to consider this crazy, mixed-up culture we are living in.  Yes, we can always improve our parenting and it is in constant need for readjustment. But when our kids are bombarded with these messages: "You can have whatever you want."  "You don't have to wait for anything."  "There are no consequences." "You don't have to feel pain." These are pretty tough lies to compete with on a daily basis.  We are fighting them ourselves and we have almost 30+ years on them.

 I don't think there is a mom or dad out there who didn't start their parenting journey without wanting their child/children not to repeat their story--more specifically the painful chapters of it. It is certainly with good intentions but, as I have found with my own story, that one big thing I don't want to see repeated ends up becoming my biggest fear.  And, in turn, I preach against it while I live in fear of it.  And 9 times out of 10, it still happens.  The war for our kids' hearts has definitely turned up a notch and it's time to re-evaluate our game plan.

We are definitely culpable in a lot of this current reality of ours and have acknowledged that to ourselves and to our son.  Our natural reaction, like his, is to hide and shrink back.  To live in denial and pretend that we don't have any issues.  But, as we said to him when he begged us not to go to the friends' parents, "we don't hide in this family.  We live in the truth and the light."  As painful and embarrassing as it is, it's always better to be authentic than pretend.  As he is seeing, there is a cost to that but one that ultimately will pay off in the future.

So you might be wondering why I'm not divulging details or identities if I am so committed to living in the light.  Believe me, I have thought and prayed about that.  But the details and identities don't matter because God knows what needs to be shared and with whom.  Much of it is not our right or role to play but our son's. And we need to be wise in protecting our family's privacy while we regroup.  One thing I hope this post does convey is that we are broken people living in a broken world in desperate need of a Savior. And it's always good to be reminded of that.  


3 Responses to “Choices”

JulieB said...

I love you guys. Growing is a beautiful and sometime painful experience. The power of free will (in this situation) will hopefully bring young minds back to the foundation that I know you and Trey created for and with him. Sometimes hard lessons are needed to remind us of the reality that we indeed get to choose who we are as people. You have amazing boys Dana who I absolutely LOVE!

JulieB said...

Free will can throw a lot of people off :(. I truly hope that this opportunity, through a tough lesson, can bring the needed awareness that we as individuals ultimately get to choose who we want to be and how we want to be. You and Trey have built, with each of your boys, a strong foundation of spirituality, honor and love which I believe will support them accordingly through their trials and tribulations. Keep your faith in that and your precious sons :). I love you Carpenter Clan!

Bham2Sisters said...

Just catching up on your blog! Wow! Can we say we live parallel lives? It's a tough world out there to be a parent and to raise children. The scripture comes to mind "Evil will become good and good evil". These are the last days, and our kids (and we) will be tossed through that refiners' fire! That whole free agency thing, I can live without. I can honestly say I know what you are going through, I live it over and over again. Hang in there, you are a wonderful mom and like you said, when they are 25, they will thank us, right? Love you, and what a fun birthday party you threw! Take care!