As my kids get older, I’m realizing that there are areas in their life where I haven’t successfully prepared them. I’ve gone through the years watching them grow only to realize that things we took for granted in the parenting process aren’t really there. Right now I seem to be swimming in these 20-something minds on a daily basis interacting on so many different levels. And it makes me wonder what I might have done differently at a younger age, back when they were tweens and teens.
Of course, if you are like me, you probably did your best parenting before you had kids too. LOL! And maybe even now as your kids hit the twelve and up stage, things are looking pretty good. The waters seem to be smooth sailing and you are thanking God for giving you the skills to parent well. All I can say is, hold on and stay on your knees. You might get through the parenting years with slightly-skinned knees only to have your 20-something fall off the cliff. Or, sooner than you blink you might find yourself spinning in a whirlpool of tween and teen attitude grasping for anything that will keep you from being pulled under during a turbulent time that you could have never anticipated.
I’ve been fortunate. God has blessed me (yes, you are hearing this right), blessed me with times of both, the skinned knees and the gasping-for-breath turbulent waters. Through those times, I’ve realized how really ill-prepared my husband and I were for the parenting journey. That’s when I get it! I am not in control. Those are the times that have drawn me closer to Jesus realizing that He is ultimately our source of hope.
These times of struggle are when I’ve grown the most and so have my kids.
Now that my kids are older, I’ve come to understand that every miracle begins with a problem. Vertical growth comes when situations smack us in the face and we have two options: run and never look back or face the problem head on learning the parenting skills we hadn’t even known were needed. Sometimes as parents we don’t see the problem until it is too late.
I remember well the panic from my friend’s voice one day as she shared a phone conversation with her 16 year old that had just taken place. Her son Christopher had recently started a new job. He was excited about it! He’d make sure he was at work early, volunteer for extra shifts, and come home sharing all the cool stories from a day of working at the water park. Two weeks into this exciting new adventure, the call came. “Mom, I can’t believe it. They just fired me!”
“Oh my goodness,” she voiced to me almost in tears. “Where have I failed as a parent? This will be on his permanent record. He got fired from his job!!”
If you are like me, and most other parents on the planet, we tend to think of these as setbacks in our kids’ lives and our failure as a parent. We need to remember that failure is just an event. If we can see these as opportunities for growth for both us and our kids, and don’t quit, a miracle of growth will start in both of us.
Most of us focus on making sure our kids have the knowledge and skills to be successful in life. School becomes the priority along with those good grades. We think they need to be able to get a job so they can spread their wings and take flight. But here’s where the tricky part comes in.
Do they have what it takes to keep the job? Do they have what it takes to move them up the chain of success?
As I watch the 20-somethings who seem to have the most success, it can be attributed to two things attitude and habits. Take the story of the 16 year old. While he had great habits of getting to work on time and volunteering, what was lacking in his situation was the attitude part. “What difference does it make if I arrange the chairs from the right or the left end of the row at the end of the day? Why does it matter if I take a restroom break between my second and third rotation or my first and second rotation?” His questions displayed an “I know what is best, why should I listen to your silly rules, attitude.”
Let’s start today with looking at one piece of the puzzle when it comes to attitude. More will follow in my next post.
Help them understand who is in charge. This is where a lot of 20-somethings seem to be struggling today. Somewhere they seem to have fallen into the idea that once they reach adulthood the playing field is equal. I’ve talked with several who tend to think there should be no hierarchy when it comes to decisions. Because they consider themselves experts (they’ve certainly spent enough years in school) in a given area of expertise, they feel that authority comes with it, never mind that there are many others who have more experience or actual managing authority that they should submit to.
Romans 13:1 ESV
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
My question to us as parents is whether we might be the ones who are actually undermining this lesson by the way we speak in front of our kids. Let me give you an example. I have fallen into the trap several times where the school has instituted a rule such as “no snacks in the classroom”. If my kid has the last lunch bell, then he’s going to be hungry. He comes home complaining that he needs a snack and the teacher won’t let him have one. How do I respond? Of course, I don’t want my child to starve.
And here’s the trap. So I empathize and let my child know that I think it is a dumb rule too. I might even tell him he should sneak something into his backpack and not let the teacher see him. But what I should tell him is that the rule must be there for a good reason and that he needs to submit to the authority of the teacher or school. I need him to know that he needs to respect authority.
How about another example. You have a rule in your house and your daughter decides that it doesn’t apply to her. When she breaks the rule, what do you do? Do you issue the designated consequence or do you let her off the hook this time? If you choose to let her off the hook, you are allowing her to undermine your authority. You might be creating a situation where there is no hierarchy in your home and your child will view you as her equal.
Keep in mind that authority doesn’t have to be a power struggle. It is just teaching our kids that submission needs to be a part of our daily lives whether it be to God or those He has placed in position over us.
How do you stack up in your parenting when it comes to equipping your child with the attitude of submission to authority? What attitudes do you need to help your kids embrace?
Learning along side you from my parenting mistakes and walking beside them when they stumble.
“Let go…and let God”,
How do you teach your kids to respect authority? Be a Titus 2 woman and share what God is saying to you in this area. And please, may I ask you to share wildly:)