Having a blog is a scary thing. Do I really share myself, or do I just write something that is hopefully entertaining to read? If I am vulnerable, I am holding myself up to be judged. But, I have determined to live a brave life, so here I go…
In the autumn of my season of parenting, I am awed by the adults my children are, or are becomming. I am pleasantly surprised that we think the oldest three are mature enough to get married. They take care of their finances. They take care of their health. They are 19-23 years old. The only reason I don’t include Lily in this is that she is 17 and still a minor. She is a very responsible 17-year-old, and I have no doubt that I’ll be saying these things about her also after she leaves our home.
Not too many years ago, a “kid” could graduate from high school at age 18, get a job, get married and live. They might work at Exxon or at Purity Dairies or for IBM. They would raise a family, maybe even a large one. Along with their wife, they would join a bowling league, or play bridge or golf – probably would be active in their church. After 35 or more years they would retire from their careers. They’d make it to 50 or more years of marriage.
Fast forward to 2010. When we hear that “kids” are getting married after they graduate from college at 22 or 23 (depending on if we held them back when starting school because they weren’t ready), we think that is too young. We question whether they are ready for this much responsibility. It’s hard for them to keep a job or stay in a marriage. Surely, you could make an argument to blame the culture, but I think the number one biggest determining factor in how and when children grow up and become responsible is how they are “parented.”
“Parented” is put in quotes, because I don’t know when it became such an action word, a verb. You were a parent – a noun. Obviously you wanted the adjective before the noun to be a positive one; the goal was to be a GOOD parent, but what was the definition of that?
Just like all of you, I read books about parenting from the time I had a line that showed positive on the pregnancy-testing strip; there is some great material out there. I read Dare to Discipline by Charles Dobson. Think it’s great, at least for children up to 13 years old or so. But I wish someone would write a book called, Dare to Raise A Self-Disciplined Person. Somewhere along the way, parenting seems to have become about control. I think this is motivated by fear. If we don’t control things, then the culture is going to eat our kids up. If anything the fear motivates us to control all the more when our children enter the teen years.
Now if my children are reading this, they probably will say that I controlled them. They claim that I made them go to bed at 7:30 when it was still light outside until they were in middle school. I dispute this claim totally, but do know that having had four kids in right under six years, I am sane, so maybe I did do things like that, I’m just saying….
What is my point? My point is discipline and control away, but at some point, (I think when your child becomes a teen) we need to move to a team approach. As a wise friend reminded me recently, it’s not “us” against “them;” it’s, “we are a team working together to reach all of our goals.” When your child leaves home at 18 years old to go to college, that’s it. Your parenting needs to be basically done. They need to have the skills to make their own decisions. They need to have already decided what their values are. God told Adam to leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife. He didn’t even have a mother and father. It was one of the first things God said about parenting. So, if you are a parent of a teen, remember the goal is to instill in them that they can do it better than you did. The goal is for them to leave and be an independent person, and for us to just sit back and be awed.