Different

Families who followed the directions in the passage from Deuteronomy 6 lived a different kind of life from other people. It was to be a lifestyle that would ensure that the truths of God would never be forgotten.
My husband and I have four kids. Two of them are teenagers. Our kids are growing up and out from under. For years I have done a pretty good job of keeping all my little chicks safely under my wing. But the bigger they get the more crowded it gets under there. Despite my best efforts to keep them close, they insist on venturing out.
As a classic mother hen, I am not comfortable with this new development.
As a family, we are different. We live a much different life from lots of people. With a commitment to raising our kids in a Christ centered home, there are some obvious differences. We are not separatists, however. We very much want our kids to enjoy the best this world has to offer. We just want them to realize there is better. So in addition to teaching them the principles of Scripture, we go to movies, amusement parks, and we eat out at restaurants. Our kids have laptop computers, ipods, video games and cell phones. They all attend public school. But there are limits.
As my sons, the oldest in particular, poke their heads out from under my wings they like these differences less and less. Our oldest spouts off about how strict we are compared to his friend’s parents. Even his churched friends have more freedom than he does, he claims. Hmm.
So yes, our once fairly serene home life is being challenged.
The testosterone levels increase, and their tempers flair. Our boys sometimes fight and argue. Patience is in short supply. I’m talking about mine here. I can’t even describe my preteen daughter’s emotional roller coaster. Every day is a mental exercise in family management. It’s hard. And it makes me sometimes second-guess our choices as parents. I begin to panic, and try to shoo them back under my protective wing, but they are just too big! Change comes slowly, but it is coming. Not fast enough for our boys, though. I see our oldest son testing and pushing. Hard. I know this is part of his passage into manhood (I read that somewhere), but it is painful to watch and worse to endure. And our fourteen-year-old is close on his heels.

I remember when they were little. Our oldest was four when the third one was born. Those were very physically hard days. There was hardly a complete night’s rest because someone was always up for one reason or another. I felt like a bleary-eyed diaper changing machine. With diaper bags, strollers, and car seats, going anywhere was an Olympic event. I gave up and just stayed home most of the time. But then I was rewarded with the cute and sweet moments. Back then, my husband and I were amazing people in our kid’s eyes.
There was nothing more heart warming than to watch them sleeping. Even if, when it finally happened, I was crying from exhaustion.

Now, fast-forward about ten years. They are no longer so physically demanding. I love being able to tell them, “Go take a shower and get dressed.”  They can fix themselves a meal, and clean their own rooms- with some prodding. Getting ready to leave the house is no longer an Olympic event. All that is great. Yet the cute is gone. Mostly. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them now, I do. Mostly. But I am tired mentally and emotionally. Knowing that we really only have two more years before the oldest turns eighteen and heads off to college causes us great anxiety.
We feel the clock is ticking, and we have only so much more time to teach them what they need to know. Only now they don’t listen. Now we are not so amazing or smart. We should have taught the difficult life lessons when they were toddlers, and they thought we knew everything. Perhaps we have missed our window of opportunity. We should have paired potty training with personal accountably and responsibility. The lesson on tying shoes should have had a dose of “respect your elders” thrown in. Maybe we wouldn’t be facing the struggles we face now. They truly would know it all now, rather than just thinking they do.
As crazy as things are right now, I am determined.
I am determined not to just survive these teenage years. I don’t want to just muddle through, and cling to the hope of one day having grandchildren. So I am going to have to change. I am probably going to have to change as much as I hope my kids change. I have to see these people as “adults in training” rather than alien beings that have taken up residence in my children and thus must be eliminated. I need to realize the changes they are going through are likely harder for them than they are for me. Well, maybe.
I once quizzed a friend of mine on this very subject. She is an adult child of two parents who managed to raise their children the way we are trying to raise ours. The jury is no longer out where those kids are concerned. All three are success stories. So I asked, from her point of view, how her parents did it. In part, her reply was this:
“We would have major arguments until the wee hours of the morning over why I couldn’t see certain movies but all my friends could, and that I hated them for being different. Always saying no to me. Being about “different things” that my friends thought were weird…it annoyed me.”
And then:
“As for my parents, they stayed calm, available and consistent. No matter the hour or the topic, I knew we could discuss anything. My mom asked 100,000 questions so we knew better than trying to get away with things. But I am sure my parents spent more time on their knees than in discussions with us.”
That sounds like a plan to me.
I know that what makes our family different won’t always be what our kids like about our family.
Teenagers, as a rule, don’t like different. Different opens up room for criticism and ridicule. Two things teenagers try very hard to avoid. But hopefully if we stick to the plan and continue teaching the truths of the Scriptures to them as we go about this life, in the end, being different won’t be such a negative. Hopefully after we’ve passed through these rocky teenage years, we’ll all look back and praise God for the differences.
Are you a classic mother hen having trouble letting your kids grow up and out from under? As a Christian parent, do you find your kids struggle with the “differences” that brings?

One thought on “Different

  1. Stacy,I finally got a chance to sit down and read your blog.  Boy, how I can sympathize with you.  I went through the same feelings and emotions along with the emotional roller coaster too.  Once I finally figured out what God was telling me, it became easier to let go.  All we can do is teach our children the word of God and when it is time to set them free, we pray.  I pray every single day for our son.  Even if he is 23 yrs old.  The one thing I can’t imagine is going through this 4 times.  God bless you!  Thanks again for your words…I have really enjoyed your blog.

So what do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s