I don't know much. In fact, the older I get the less I feel I know. A friend of mine put a post on facebook the other day about her relationship with her daughter and the struggles of dealing with a teenager. I read that and thought, oh my, teenagers are going to be so difficult to deal with! I hear the moans of so many parents and it scares me to think of how hard it will be with hormones flying around all over the place in this house when we have teens. It has started early I think even in our house. The eleven year old has an overwhelming desire for autonomy and decision making. And I let him. He's a hard worker and disciplined. He does what he needs to do everyday and no, not always with pleasantness, but neither do I. He's eleven and part and partial he's allowed to make his own decisions and at this age he does well. I trust him. I went to Wal-Mart the other day and had to do a boat load of shopping. I told him to go do whatever he wanted, their is a gaming system in the store and toys to look at and books to read. The only requirement was for him to meet me in the food department at a certain time. He did whatever he did, and I have no idea what that was and then he met me at the time I told him, he was actually early. Then, without asking him he loaded all the groceries on to the conveyor and the cashier rang us up. He took the groceries out of the cart with me and put them in the trunk. That was our grocery trip in a nutshell.
Now, there are things at the store that I hate. The xbox gaming system has less than desirable games that he could have played. The warcraft, witchcraft aisle I can't stand. And even some of the toys and books I roll my eyes at and don't like. But ya' know, I trust my son to make good decisions. If he has a problem about something he saw, he'll tell me. If he wants to tell me something he will and with no prodding on my part. I teach what I feel is right in our home and if he genuinely wants to adopt what I say, that would be great and if he doesn't, he doesn't. He has the spirit of Christ resting with him and I have no worries and no fears as to what will become of my free thinking sons and daughters.
And for all that I don't know, which I feel is a lot, there are some things I am beginning to see that I haven't seen fully before. One all-pervasive knock you up side the head kind of aha type moment. As a parent I want to be in state or plan of working myself out of a job entirely. The older my kids get the more they do for themselves and one of those things that they will be required to do in this house as time goes by is think for themselves.
Using your brain is going to be a requirement for my kids and steadily increasing as the years go by. As my kids age, I'll be here for whatever support they need, but slowly I will be taking a hands-off approach to my kids. I am working myself out of a job and isn't that what parenting should be? Imagine your son or daughter at the age of sixteen, what do you want them to be like? I think about this kind of stuff all the time and I must say I expect my kids at the age of sixteen to have a enough sense to make choices for themselves completely. At ten, twelve, fourteen, sixteen and beyond, I see a larger need for me, the mom and my husband to step back gradually until, voila, standing before me is a person who is capable to stand on his or her own two feet.
That in mind, I am perpetually amazed at how much control parents would like to have over their kids in their teenage years and also, well into years beyond adolescence. And I say, why? You can teach or show or help your kids see things all day, but there has to be a point where they really want to do what you say or adopt what you think. It's their choice no matter how heartbreaking or just different than what you would choose for them would be. They are your children. You should love them no matter what and offer support. I have my ideas about what I want my kids to be or what they will do or what they will believe in life, but my kids may choose a different path and if it's what's in their heart sincerely to do then I need to realize the truth of what they think and accept it. Honesty and sincerity should reign supreme in the home of every family. I do teach my kids the bible, but we just talk about it. We discuss the bible, we discuss the real love of the real Jesus. We offer our thoughts as parents. There are some things that my kids are not allowed to do, but they are the same things most sensible parents would not allow their kids to do. Not stay up too late, eat too much junk, watch too much tv, play too many video games, etc. Just normal parameters that every parent should consider. But when it comes to what I believe about God and the bible and Jesus, I realize that I can present my beliefs to my kids and state them as fact to them all day, but it is entirely up to them to make their own choices in this area. I won't love them any less and I won't force them to believe what I believe. I do hope they will all enter into a real, loving relationship with the real and loving and forgiving Jesus, but I will not be making them do anything.
My friend that posted about her relationship with her daughter on facebook spoke about her prayer for her daughter and really, to me, prayer matters more than our lip service and my good example of love and kindness matters more than making my kids do anything when it comes to a life in Christ and walking in His real ways of love and compassion, grace and mercy. Jesus will not force anyone to come to Him. They are lovingly invited to come and dine at His table of forgiveness, redemption and love, but never forced. I remember a lady telling me one time that her daughter didn't want to pray when she was asked to and she commanded her to pray. Are you kidding me? Do you honestly think that God wants you to make your daughter pray when she just really does not want to? What kind of God is that? It's not the God I know.
If my kids want to enter into a relationship with Jesus they will because they want to and see the need for it. It they want to read the bible it will be because they choose to out of a hunger for it. If they want to pray, they will. This mama won't be making her kids do any of those things. I will live this life the way Christ intended me to live and wow, I am sure I mess that up some, but really, I'll set those parameters, those sensible parameters for my kids, but I am not messing up what God can do and the Holy Spirit can do. I will present, I will ask questions, I will bring up thoughts, we will discuss, I will pray, and sing and do what Christ may lead me to do in my own personal walk with Him, but making my kids do what I do I will not do. Because in all areas I want to be slowly working myself out of a job. And when it comes to the world of Jesus' doing I will simply be a seed planter and not a controller. In fact, the work of the Holy Spirit was never my job to begin with.