We’ve probably all heard it said many times over that the teenage years are the hardest on the parents. I don’t know about you, but when I was up to my eyeballs in changing diapers, and cleaning spit up off my clothes and out of my hair, I couldn’t in my wildest dreams understand how a full functioning near-adult could be harder to take care of than these tiny humans who couldn’t even sit up!
I was wrong. BIG TIME!
It isn’t that the daily chore of taking care of my older children is so difficult, because that part is so much easier now that they can bathe, get dressed, feed themselves. It’s the emotional roller coaster that raising teens has put me on that makes this the single most difficult task I’ve encountered yet.
The reason I couldn’t see how difficult this would be when my kids were younger is because it wasn’t personal. I could listen to a mom of teens share her heartache and think to myself that everything she was saying was just a normal part of growing up. No big deal.
Until it starts happening to MY KIDS! Watching your child’s body mature is unsettling. Understanding that they have hormones is not for the faint of heart. Knowing that boyfriends and girlfriends are just around the corner is scary.
My kids are good kids. They are respectful (mostly!). They make good grades. They follow the rules (mostly!). They help around the house. They help take care of their younger brother. They are good kids. By society’s standards, we’re doing a great job raising them.
But here’s the deal – I’m not interested in secular parenting.
My task is much greater than simply teaching my children how to be intelligent, respectful, hard-working, full-functioning adults. My mission is to teach them to know and love Jesus with all their hearts. My job is to be Jesus to them. My job is to teach them to be Jesus to others.
This task is not so difficult when your children still think you know everything and believe anything you tell them. It’s easy when they can’t eavesdrop on conversations you shouldn’t really be having in the first place. It’s easy when they like you and still want to be just like you when they grow up. But it all changes when their adoration evolves into mere tolerance. When personalities are so polar opposite that you can hardly have a conversation that isn’t strained or forced, it becomes difficult to impress upon these still young beings all that you want them to learn from you. When their friends, computers, iPads, phones, xboxes, etc. vie for their attention, it’s challenging to get them to focus on anything you say or do. When their homework load is so great that you feel how overwhelmed they are, it’s hard to determine when it’s ok to let them skip out on family time so they can get their work done, and when it’s more important for them to be with the rest of the family.
What I know is that every decision I make matters. Every word I speak to them matters. What I do and say will either build them up or tear them down. It will either bring them one step closer to knowing Jesus, or take them one step back. That’s heavy stuff.
I’ve always been very confident in my parenting choices. I’ve not done everything perfectly, but that’s ok. I’m good with kids. I know how to talk to them, to understand them. But teens? That’s a whole new ballgame. Honestly, I’m in uncharted territory. I have no idea what I’m doing. None. It’s like aliens have invaded my home and we don’t even speak the same language! How in the world am I supposed to influence these people when I don’t understand a thing about them? My answer for that?
It takes a village.
It takes many people being actively involved in their lives. Praying for them (and for Josh and me), mentoring them, leading them by example, etc. It takes us as parents being humble and honest enough to admit we need help and to ask for it. But mostly, it takes active, daily interaction with God. He needs to be the center of it all. He needs to be my source of wisdom, guidance, support, comfort, peace. He will provide all I need as a mother. I just have to be willing to accept it.
I believe He provides our village. I believe He hears and answers prayers. I believe He is faithful. I believe He will give me answers if I seek them. I believe He loves my children more than I do and wants them to love Him, too. I believe.
And I so desperately want my kids to believe.
Lord, grant me the wisdom to effectively raise these children to know and love you. This is my heart’s desire.
I seek Christian parenting, which adds a whole new dimension to this task. It’s well worth the effort, but it definitely takes a strong person with a strong village.
To my village, thank you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for loving Josh. Thank you for loving our kids. Thank you for your support, wisdom, and guidance. I promise to be part of your village when you need it!