Dare 9 – The Respect Dare – Developing Patience – For Parents of 20-Somethings

Driving back home from campus having just dropped their youngest daughter off from a weekend visit home, Lynette turned to Russ and began chuckling. “Isn’t it amazing how God has grown us!” she began. I can’t believe we were able to respond as we did.”

“You are so right,” Russ responded. “I guess raising four kids will do that for you. I love that kid so much and just want her to be successful.”

The day had started out similar to every Sunday on the weekends that Britney had chosen to come home. Together they would get up and go to church and rush home to pack up her things. Clean laundry, books, computer, purse, snacks for the dorm, became the routine checklist. Lynette would usually make a visual sweep of every room just to make sure Britney hadn’t forgotten anything that she might need for the next few weeks.

Typically they headed out the door for Britney’s restaurant of choice. That was her ‘treat’ for the weekends that she came home. “Yeah, something other than the standard cafeteria fare!” she would sing.

As they were leaving the restaurant with half a pizza left from their meal, Britney gasped. “Oh, no! I forgot to get my shirt for the concert out of the dryer. I’m so sorry, Dad, but we’ve got to go back home!”

Twenty minutes to return home wasn’t really that big of a deal. “At least it’s early enough in the day that we can still make it back home before dark,” he responded.

On the road again, the conversation was light. It was obvious that Lynette and Russ were just enjoying being with their daughter and hearing her talk about her world at school. They had never fathomed how much they would miss the chatter of their kids until this one left for college.

About an hour into the drive, Britney remembered something important. “Oh, I can’t believe it. Mom, we didn’t get laundry detergent!”

Responding with extreme calmness, Lynette suggested they take a detour into the next town and find a grocery store. “Glad you thought of it now,” she remarked. With that, Russ took the next exit without emotion or frustration. In ten minutes they were back on the highway.

With less than 10 minutes until they would arrive at Britney’s dorm, a distraught groan of “Oh, Dad, you are going to kill me!” came from Britney’s lips. “Did either of you pick up my dorm keys? I didn’t see them on the table with my other stuff. I can’t get in my dorm without them. We’ll need to go back home.”

Russ quickly pulled off to the side of the road to scan the van for the keys. As they looked, Russ remembered having put them on the key hook at home. None of them had thought to grab it when they left. Starting to turn around and drive the hour and a half home, Lynette suggested that they call campus security to get Britney in her dorm room so she could get the things done she needed for class tomorrow. It was decided that Russ would return with the key later that evening…another three hours on the road.

Playing back the day’s events with Russ, Lynette was able to reconstruct what would have happened if this has been their firstborn. First, Lynette would have chastised him for forgetting the shirt. Then when the laundry detergent had come up, she would have told him that he needed to plan ahead. She knew that both she and Russ would have been upset that they had to give up that extra time stopping at the store and would have probably let their emotions show how much he had upset their day! But the key would have set both of them off into a spiraling whirlwind of accusations of “whose fault it was”. They would have given voice to words that would have destroyed, rather than nurtured the relationship.

Proverbs 18:4

The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.

Forgetfulness by our 20-somethings can be frustrating if we are the ones impacted by their lack of thought. May God give you patience and wisdom as you provide servant leadership and keep your tongue in check.

“Let go…and let God,”

Hope you will join Nina Roesner as she provides insight on marriage and Leah Heffner as she blogs to wives with little people as we go through The Respect Dare together.

4 replies
  1. Jenny
    Jenny says:

    I’m still surrounded by constant chatter and sneaking off for quiet breaks now. It is good to see a future perspective and appreciate what I have.

    • debbiehitchcock
      debbiehitchcock says:

      Jenny, I remember the days when I created a small sanctuary in a corner of my bedroom to get away from the kids. It is amazing how God gives you such a different perspective when they are no longer living under your roof 24/7. You are right, if we could all look at what is to come rather than be stuck in the moment of today’s frustration, we’d learn to appreciate it. Glad you are looking ahead to prepare for what will be.

  2. Amy
    Amy says:

    There is a balance between grace and enabling. She could buy her own laundry detergent when she got to campus. Surely she could take the bus or walk to a store from campus.

    Also, she could contact security for keys. Unless she absolutely needed the key ring and there was absolutely no other way but to make a 3 hour round trip and $25 in gas expenses, I would have dropped the keys in the mail to her when I returned home. Three days, she would have her keys.

    No yelling. No fighting, but a whole lot of letting your adult child fix their own problems. Some unpleasant consequences are needed to propel growth.

    • debbiehitchcock
      debbiehitchcock says:

      Amy, I agree wholeheartedly with your comment. Thank you for speaking truth. There is a fine line between grace and enabling and given different circumstances, what happened in this real life situation should have been most definitely been handled with a little more “it’s time for you to take responsibility for the circumstances you created.” The unfortunate situation here (and not shared in the writing – the how much do I share dilemma?) was that the 20-something here was dealing with a host of medical issues and on pain medication that kept her from keeping it all together. Not only was the college town in the middle of cornfields with the closest store a 20 minute drive (she can’t drive on pain meds), but each time she needed in her dorm room there was a $5.00 charge to call security. She had no roommate to “share” a key. This particular kid didn’t need the stress of having to call security every time she wanted in her room. It was cheaper to return with the key. Sometimes as parents we get foisted into the difficulties that are kids are going through. However, we sometimes get so frustrated at the kid that we forget to look at the stresses that they are personally under. Hopefully, parents will see through the story that coming unglued at the circumstances really doesn’t change the situation. Sometimes through our grace, kids recognize that their forgetfulness impacts us and they can become more empathetic to other people as a result. Thanks for clarification of the other perspective and thanks too for sharing! God bless.


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