The choice is theirs

Sunday, December 2, 2012

When writing my last post, I was in a place of disappointment and sadness over the choices made by my children that directly opposed what they have been taught.  As I've had time to reflect and process, my emotions have gone from shock to sadness to anger to grief to acceptance.  Although it isn't the path I had hoped to walk as part of my parenting days, I've realized it certainly isn't the end of the world.  And I've also been convicted that, in many ways, I expected close to perfection from my children.  I think that subconsciously I felt that if given all the right tools, they would stay on the straight and narrow and have a way better head start in life than I had at their age. They would be honor roll, law abiding, God-fearing, example setting individuals.  This has proven to be not only a naive outlook but one filled with pride too.  Obviously one can never have too much humility.

Last week I dug out a book I remember reading a couple years ago that addressed some of the issues I am facing right now: "5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Son" by Vicki Courtney.  The author gave a beautiful example of how to not live in condemnation over your kids' choices. "As mothers, we like to think there is a tried and true formula that if applied consistently will bear out a positive end result.  The truth is, we can apply a formula or effective principles but in the end we can not control the outcome."  This was good for me to hear/read.  She goes on to say that no matter what path her sons choose, she will have fulfilled her assigned role."I have taken advantage of teachable moments when we sit at home, walk along the road, lie down, and get up. (Deut 6:7). Should they decide to forgo God's best in spite of my teaching and instruction, I will not shrug my shoulders and say, "Where did I go wrong?"  I will rest knowing I did all I could and continue to pray that their hearts would be sensitive and ripe to God's teaching." Although there is always room for improvement, as an older and wiser mom once told me, "Don't be so quick to take credit for their accomplishments nor blame for their failures."

Another reality that God showed me when I was in a place of anger was that I have no idea what it is like to be an American high school teenage boy in today's world. And I happen to have one who is in "the pressure cooker" as I call it.  The circle with the most influence but the one that rarely uses it the way you hope.   The enormous amount of pressure these boys endure everyday to do the right thing requires an excessive amount of self-control.  Everything that can cause them to take a wrong path is in front of them at every turn.  Pondering this gave me an immense amount of compassion for all of my sons and the battles they are faced with in a typical day. My expectations are really unrealistic if viewed through this lens.  And if we are honest with ourselves about our parenting culture, is it really any wonder our kids consider engaging in risky behavior?  Not only are they living in the pressure cooker at school, they are living under the microscope everywhere else.  Parents put their kids on pedestal and cater to their every whim. Their daily lives are so micromanaged and parents' lives revolve around their children to the point that life becomes all about the children.  There is no balance.  The kids instinctively can feel that they have the power to make or break their parents by their grades, their athletic performance and social skills.  This is way too much power for any adolescent to carry and many of them snap to cope with the pressure.  I'm not saying I haven't been guilty of this by any means just that it might do all of us well to take an inventory of this parenting trend that has now become a commonly accepted lifestyle.  I know that I don't want to give my kids that power or that vibe and I'm re-evaluating how I have caved to the culture myself.

So the 3-week social restriction has been lifted and a new chapter begins.  Praying that the lessons learned in this past chapter with serve all of us well in the new one.

1 Comment »

One Response to “The choice is theirs”

Kimberly said...

I hear ya! I just finished reading Vicky Courtney's, YOUR BOY, and found her refreshing and real. The pressure we place on ourselves and our kids is overwhelming. I'm learning to let go and not cling tightly to some sort of "model of perfection," but just let our kids be who they are, learn along the way, and guide them when we are blessed with the opportunity.