Rhonda caught herself doing it again. Frustrated, yet ready for the respite of a quiet house until her 14 year old returned from school, Rhonda began counting her blessings as she began to pick up the trail of clutter.
- Ashlee is doing well in school. Thank you, Lord!
- Ashlee has a great group of friends, very much a blessing.
- Ashlee is growing up to be a compassionate person. It was awesome to watch her interact with Aunt Martha last week.
- I won’t have her home for many more years, so I need to be thankful for our time no matter how frustrating.
And the blessing list continued…
As Rhonda continued in the kitchen, she found herself pausing. “Lord, I know that Ashlee is a blessing, but sometimes she can also be downright frustrating!” She laughed as she said it. Ashlee had raced out the door again this morning tearing through the house like a tornado. Picking up cushions from the couch where she had done last night’s homework, she left everything she had touched wherever it fell, any place except where it should be.
“Found it, Mom. I’m sorry to leave you with the mess,” she shouted as she ran toward the door. “I’ll pick it up this afternoon when I get home.”
“Right,” Rhonda thought. “And when my Bible Study group shows up this morning, I’ll just tell them to sit wherever they can find a cushion or wherever there aren’t popcorn kernels from last night.”
“Lord, she is such a good girl and I know she has a lot on her plate with school and her after school activities. Is this my role as a parent to pick up after her all the time? I love her so much that I would do absolutely anything for her. I might not always do it without complaining”, she chuckled again. “But I would do anything for her. Show me the way, Lord. Either change my attitude and frustration or give me a different direction.”
As Rhonda continued to tidy the house for her group who would arrive in an hour, she felt God’s gentle nudge. “Rhonda, I want you to count the blessings I have given you, but I also want you to teach Ashlee how to take care of herself and others.”
“What was it they taught us in Generations? Tweens and Teens need life balance. When their issues start impacting our daily life, they need a reminder that their behavior is not leading to independence.”
“Thanks, Lord. I needed that today.”
As Rhonda pulled into the driveway from picking Ashlee up from soccer practice, she suggested that they spend a few minutes talking over a snack. “Sure, Mom.”
“Ashlee, I want you to know that I really am proud of the way you are maturing. You had such a gentle spirit with Aunt Martha last week. I loved watching the two of you interact.
“You know that your dad and I want to teach you all the skills you’ll need to be fully independent one day, don’t you? As Ashlee shook her head in agreement between bites of trail mix, Rhonda continued, “It occurred to me this morning that you are starting to develop a habit that is something that I think will not only impact you in the future, but it is impacting me right now. This is the third week in a row that you’ve had several mornings where you’ve ransacked the house in the morning before you went to school.”
“I know, Mom. I’m sorry. It’s just that I don’t want to be late for the bus. I don’t want you to have to drive me to school.”
“I appreciate that, Ashlee. But you are leaving me with a mess just about every morning these days. We need to find a way to change that.”
“Mom, I’ve told you I will clean it up as soon as I get home, but by the time I get here you’ve already done it. You really can save it for me.”
“Ashlee, I live in this house too. I have friends that stop by during the day while you are gone. I like to sit on the couch for my quiet time. Do you really think I can enjoy my time with God if I have to look at the mess all around me?”
“I’ve been thinking about this and I think the problem is that you’ve not gathered your things together for school the night before. Starting now, I want you to work hard at picking up snacks or whatever you’ve left in the family room the night before. To help you remember, I’m letting you know that if it happens again, there will be a consequence.”
“A consequence? You’ve got to be kidding!”
“Ashlee, the consequence is intended to be a reminder to help you not forget the rule the next time. Just know that from here on out, there will be no more morning tornado through the house. I know that it might seem harsh, but our job as parents is to help you become a balanced adult. I just don’t want you to always be stressed out and develop the habit of always being in a rush. I know that’s what you want as well. Keep the family room picked up in the evenings and there won’t be a problem. I love you, Ashlee. I know you’ll do better. I’m more than willing to give you a gentle reminder in the evening if that will help.”
“Okay, Mom. I’ll try to do better. Maybe if I put a note on my bathroom mirror, I won’t forget.”
“Great idea, honey!”
Living in a hurried world, sometimes as parents we allow our tweens and teens to fall into bad habits that impact us. Rather than try to teach them good habits, we bail them out because it makes us feel better.
And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.
Dare you to find something that needs to change in your teen’s life and encourage better self-discipline. Just be sure to let them know you are helping them gain independence.
“Let go…and let God,”