It doesn’t seem like long ago, my parents were sitting me down and talking to me about being cautious to not make hasty decisions. They wanted me to use the things they had taught me, to make wise decisions regarding my life choices. I remember feeling as though they could never understand what I was thinking or feeling. At sixteen years old, those conversations never ended fast enough.
Now, I have a teenager of my own, a wonderful thirteen year old son whom I am proud of. He is kind and caring, and is always thoughtful of others. He’s a friend to the underdog and stands up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. He’s a hard worker and a great athlete. He has grown to be a wonderful young man. And yet with all of these great qualities, he is still a normal teenager who struggles to make the right decisions.
Last night for the first time, I felt what my parents must have felt nearly 15 years ago. As we were talking with him about the choices that he is making, his eyes were glazed over. As soon as I saw it, I quit talking. I knew that nothing I could say at that point would have any effect on him. He didn’t say it, but it was written all over his face. “Are you kidding me? Are we really having this conversation? You have no idea how I feel or what I am thinking. Can we be done yet so I can go to bed?” There’s no way to express how I felt at that moment, knowing that we have arrived at the point where it’s time to let him make his own choices and suffer the consequences. We can guide him, but ultimately he has to make his own decisions. We have sown the seeds and now it’s time to watch them take root.
I struggle when thinking about how he will respond in different situations, feeling as though if he makes a poor choice it reflects directly on me, that I have not done a good job parenting. And yet I think about the poor choices I made as a teenager and don’t think of it as being a parenting issue at all. We like to think that if we do everything right, our children will turn out okay. We may cling to Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We can be great parents and there is still a chance our children will stray from the path they know is right.
There is no such thing as perfect parenting. We are all going to make mistakes. There are many areas that we question ourselves as parents. Did I make the right decision? Maybe I overreacted. Was I too hard on him? Was I too easy on him? And the list goes on. We only get one chance. We can’t dwell on the mistakes we have made. We need to acknowledge them, learn from them and move on.
No matter what choices our children make, if we give them to God, we can find peace and comfort in Him.
God, I have done my best to raise my children in a way that is pleasing to you. I have not been perfect, I have made many mistakes. God, I give you Justin. He is my son, but ultimately he is Your child. You know the desires of his heart, God. Bless him, raise him up as a man of God who is willing to take the narrow path for You. Give him courage to stand up for You when faced with difficult circumstances. Give him strength to make wise choices that will be pleasing to you, give him a hunger for righteousness and a thirst for salvation through Your Son. God, give him a passion for Your Word and give Hunter and I strength and wisdom as we continue on this parenting journey. Give us peace in times of chaos. Bless our home, God. In Your Name, Amen.