Teenagers. The word itself strikes fear in some. Especially if you're a parent. Whew. Even with all the books, counseling and workshops out there, the task of raising one of these creatures into adulthood seems to be daunting. I had a mother of twelve once tell me that when her boys hit adolescence, it was strictly survival mode. But I've always been a little cocky. I know...hard to believe, right? :) Even downright invincible sometimes (at least in my mind), so I thought I'd maneuver through this parent-of-a-teen gig rather smoothly. I mean, up until this point, parenting and I had gotten along quite well..with the exception of potty-training my Kaleb...but that's a different post. The point is, I felt pretty confident as a parent as my oldest rounded the corner into teen-hood.
That was reality slapping me so hard in the face the whelp is still visible nearly five years later.
Parents, of younger kiddos, STAY VIGILANT. It will make that smack of reality much less painful if you set boundaries, establish authority, develop relationship, and build them up in the LORD now.
And really, my oldest is a great kid...or shall I say young man. He's got a good head on his shoulders. Very insightful. One of the best sense of humors. And God has gifted him with unbelievable talent as a musician. My very own personal rock star. Often times, it's easy to forget he's only 17.
But we have our moments. They are fewer and farther between now, thank God. But they still creep up. If one of us is over-tired or anxious. Or if we have a super-busy week and don't get a chance to talk about schedules or plans and things are miscommunicated. Or money...just not enough of it to go around. Mostly it's me being scared to death I'm not doing this whole parenting thing right.
We just can't seem to see eye-to-eye sometimes. They think we're controlling them. We think we're protecting them. They think we're being nosey. We think we're building relationships. They think we're overprotective. We think "What happened to my BABY!?!?!"
The other day I told someone that nothing has tested my faith more than being the parent of a teen. Nothing. Even as the words rolled off my fingertips (I was typing them :) I questioned them. Really? How could this be true? I've buried a child. Nothing could test your faith like that, right? I must be wrong. But my behavior with my son would suggest otherwise. I've had more panic attacks since his 13th birthday than I had for years after we lost Kaylee. How can this be so? I've even had people comment on how my family walked so gracefully through that time of loss. Grace could certainly not be used to describe my demeanor as I parent my teen. What the heck is wrong with me?
At church this past Sunday my pastor spoke on how in the midst of tragedy, and no matter what happens here on this earth, God is always with us. I never felt His presence more than when we lost our daughter. There was nothing of me left. I can remember times when it felt as if he was literally breathing for me...because I just didn't have the will to do it on my own. I had no idea how to cope with this loss. All I could do was rest in Him. There was no taking matters into my own hands. There was nothing I could fix or change. My hands were tied, so I surrendered.
I surrendered. That's it. I surrendered to HIS way. I listened to HIS wisdom. I rested in HIS strength.
Not exactly been my prominent parenting strategy these last few years. And there ya go. I wasn't trusting God for my son's life. I was doing things my way. Scrambling to find man's knowledge and approval, and doing it all in my own strength.
My oldest turns 18 in less than two months. I will have an adult child. Still hard to believe. But I know that God is working in him. I know God has a plan and a purpose for him. A plan to prosper him, not to harm him. A plan for a hope and future. I will continue to pray and parent, but God, please help me to do it in YOUR strength and with YOUR wisdom. I will trust the promises you have for my son, just as I trust you have them for me. I will get out of your way and allow you to write the testimony of his life that will proclaim your glory. And it will be much better than I could have ever done on my own.