Sometimes Matthew and I get questioned about our parenting… skills. I figure it’s either so that parent can do what we have done, or it’s so they will be certain not to do what we have done. Sometimes we don’t know which. The former often humbles me, and I can completely understand the latter. Despite our best efforts, our children are not perfect. It’s not their fault. I blame them, but it’s not their fault. Sometimes, even with our best efforts, we parents fail… and kids fail, too.
Still, with many failures, come some shining successes. I praise God for the successes. Sometimes our kids succeed in spite of us as much as because of us. I thank God for that, too. Many nights I have gone to bed praying for the God of heaven and earth to fix what I messed up in the hearts and minds of my children that day. I thank Him for the mending.
I’ve decided to share a tiny bit of almost twenty years of parenting lessons learned, sometimes the hard way. These few things have been on my mind today, and I think I need to share them. As our kids get older and begin to look more and more like adults and less and less like children, we have tried hard to prepare them for what lies ahead. Hopefully, what lies ahead finds them not living in my basement as full-fledged adults.
For our boys, we have tried to teach them to never… ever… tell her to “Calm down.” Never. Ever. Not heeding this advise will most surely show them that they were indeed mistaken in thinking she was not calm before. She will surely show them just how un-calm she will be now. Seriously though, teaching boys how to be in proper relationship with a female is a challenge in today’s society. I’d like to think that we have matured as a society, and that males look at females with more respect and that they treasure them in these enlightened times. It’s not true. Twenty-one million (mostly) women, (mostly girls) sold into the sex trafficking presently tell me we have not come very far.
Boys have to be taught to treasure girls. We tell our boys, “To hold a girl’s hand is for more than making her heart flutter. To take her hand means she is in your care. When you are in the company of a girl, her safety is your responsibility. Respecting her boundaries is your responsibility, too. If she doesn’t have proper boundaries, she’s not the girl for you. Take her home…. Quickly.”
We teach our boys that when they find themselves interested in getting to know a girl, it is as important that they get to know her family, too. We tell them, “If you like the girl, but can’t stand her family, that will be a problem.” We also tell them, “She needs to be around your family, too. A lot. She needs to fit in with your family. We’re not going anywhere.”
And what about our girl? She is a carefully guarded commodity. It’s a double standard and we know that. We don’t care. At fifteen, she’s never been on a date, to a dance, had a boyfriend. And guess what? She’s still alive and well, and all the better for it. She doesn’t spend hours on end pining away for some boy. And if there is a boy out there who thinks he’s good enough to take her out, he’s wrong. The boy who thinks he is not good enough… that’s the one who’ll have a chance with her… one day. Why? It’s not because we think she’s perfect, we know she’s not—remember? But the one who treasures her enough to think he is not worthy, just might be.
Parenting our kids when they were little was a challenge. Yet truly, it was child’s play compared to parenting them as young adults. The decisions they make now are for keeps. I know I haven’t shared much in this piece, but these are the things on my heart to share right now. Perhaps I can share more another time. Again, I don’t put these things out there because I think Matthew and I have a lock on parenting. I share these things because as parents, we need to be in this thing together. Our kids matter, and we need to try to get it right.