Have you ever wished you were invisible because your tween or teen did something that embarrassed you? Trust me when I say that I’ve been there on more than one occasion. With four teens under my roof at one time, there was plenty of opportunity for me to encounter situations where my teens didn’t use their best judgment.
I remember one time when my daughter was in junior high. She got into our minivan wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants as we headed to a home school skating party. The dress code for these events tended to be fairly conservative and I remember thinking at the time that she would probably get hot in the rink since it was unseasonably warm. And wouldn’t you know it, halfway through the two-hour skate time, I overheard a couple of moms asking who that girl was out on the skate floor.
The talk continued about how they couldn’t believe a mother would ‘let her child out of the house like that’ when someone came over to me and said, “Isn’t that your daughter?”
Sure enough my daughter was skating with a boy in short shorts and a spaghetti strap top that barely covered her blossoming figure. I was embarrassed beyond belief.
If only I could have been swallowed up by the floor at that moment.
You see, I’m a rule follower. Rule followers feel like they are being accosted when someone points out something that their kids are doing wrong. And like those other moms said, “How could a mother let her child out of the house wearing that?”
In that moment, as a mom, I didn’t feel safe. I felt like a terrible parent. I just knew that others were blaming me for my child’s choices.
I believed the lie that if my children weren’t being obedient and following the rules, then I must be a failure as a parent.
Looking back on that scenario, thankfully, I can laugh about it now. Kids will do the darnedest things.
So what have I learned from that story?
- My children will make decisions over which I have no control. I can either take them personally, as if I should be in control, or I can use the opportunity to teach my kids appropriate behavior so they learn from their mistakes. The question is whether I address them from a place of humiliation (which breeds anger) or a place of grace.
- Society as a whole tends to judge our actions as parents when our kids make wrong decisions. Instead of parenting from a position of ‘you have embarrassed me’, I choose to parent from a place of humility. After all, I’ve made wrong choices in my lifetime as well.
- I need to surround myself with “safe” women. That means finding other moms where I can be real and not have to pretend that I’m perfect because the other moms do the same.
- I can choose compassion when I see other moms struggling with wayward teens. If I go out of my way to bring a word of hope and encouragement to these moms, maybe one day when she looks back she can laugh at the choices her child has made.
- God uses our children to refine us and sometimes we have to decide if we will listen to His voice, our own voice, or the voices of those around us.
- The choices our children make are not about us. These moments are about Him. Will I represent Him well in front of my teen?
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Dare you to go out of your way to encourage the mom of a tween or teen who is making poor choices. Pray for her and her family situation. Be that “safe” person who offers compassion to her sometimes dark and fear-filled world. As a friend once said, “If you do, you’ll be Jesus with skin on to her.”
“Let go…and Let God”,
If you are a mom who needs support as your parent, we have an opportunity for you. Find a group of “safe” moms and go through With All Due Respect together. It’s a place where you will find encouragement and hope as you parent through the trials.