Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Parenting Teens: Trust

Recently our oldest son stood behind me and said, "Mom, fall back.  I'll catch you."  My first response was, "No Way!  What if you drop me?  What if I fall on the floor?  What if I break my arm?  What if you hurt your back trying to catch me?  What ifWhat ifWhat if?"  The negative What if's? floating around my brain can overwhelm me leaving me just an anxious ball of stressed out momma worrying about the next terrible What if? consequence rather than thinking of the positive What if's?

Positive, relationship building What if's might be,  "What if I do fall back and he catches me and then knows I trust him? or What if he catches me and realizes his strength and God-given sense of protection for another?  What if I literally place my safety in the hands of another and I build trust as a result?  What if this simple act proves to our son I trust him?" 

After a moment thinking about the worst that could happen if I was dropped, I placed my trust in our oldest son.  Guess what?  He caught me.  I really think it was a trust building moment for us.  He knew I trusted him in that moment and I completely let go of the what if's and believed he was going to do the right thing and not let him momma fall on the floor.

I think it's safe to say the consensus on raising teens is: It's tough.  Our oldest is now an official teen.  It wasn't so long ago he was the little pee wee wrapped around my thigh, climbing counters and leaping from just about everything.  He is now growing inches overnight and looking me in the eyes.  His coolness factor has been on the steady up climb.  He's getting stronger, more athletic, and the braces are taking care of the gaps that resulted from a missing front tooth.  AND he's got cool hair.  I think he's got the cool exterior stuff going on, but what really counts is his character. I'm blessed he's a young man of integrity, compassion, and wisdom.  I wish when I was his age I had half of the integrity, wisdom, confidence and heart he possesses.  He truly amazes me!

Seems like yesterday we had this type of activity going on at the house.  Climbing, Climbing, Climbing!

Last weekend, I dropped the boys off at a birthday party.  This little party has been stressing me out for days.  The invitation was from a girl.  This is the FIRST girl party invitation we've received since a preschool fire station party (I think) and I wasn't quite sure what to do with it.  We're friends with the family through sports and they're great, but a girl (co-ed) party?  And to make matters more stressful, it was a party with 22 girls invited and...4 boys!  Can I hear an "OH MY WORD!"

I'm sure all who are reading this have an opinion about what to do in the situation.  I think it's often difficult to draw a hard line that would apply to all kids.  I've read many parenting books offering advice I'd never use or some advice I'd use with one of our kids, but not the other.  Some strategies work with one, but are downright failures with the next.  There doesn't seem to be a "one size fits all" method of parenting therefore I think it's important to be flexible and weigh the situation.

After much conversation, a review of family guidelines/expectations, and some compromise we allowed our boys to attend the party.  They were together and they really hold each other accountable.  They are great for each other.  On the way to the party we talked about how as parents their dad and I are just learning how to navigate this season of life.

While dropping them off, I spoke to the mom relayed my concerns.  She was understanding.  I left.  As I drove away, I really felt they were fine.  They were just going to have pizza, play in the pool, play some games and have a little cupcake.  A part of me was still stressed.  I headed to the beach for a release the stress run. 

The crashing waves, the sun and the smell of bon fires and bbq's does wonders!  I feel so at peace at the beach.  I set my ipod to shuffle and started running.  I love when I set it to shuffle and the "right" songs come on for what my heart needs at the time.  About a mile into the run, the song "I Surrender All" came on.  Since I'm a recovering "Control Freak" these words soothed my soul.
I Surrender All

All to Jesus I surrender
All to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him
In His presence daily live
All to Jesus I surrender
Humbly at His feet I bow
Worldly pleasures all forsaken
Take me, Jesus, take me now,
I surrender all
I surrender all
All to Thee my blessed Savior
I surrender all
All to Jesus I surrender
Make me Savior wholly thine
May Thy Holy Spirit fill me
May I know Thy power divine
I surrender all
I surrender all
All to Thee my blessed Savior
There are so many things I need to surrender.  The kids we've been blessed to parent are first and foremost God's Kids.  He loves them more than I ever will.  We've parented thirteen years as we enter the teen years we'll slowly allow each child to make more and more decisions.  Isn't that what parenting is about?  Slowly letting your kids become the men/women God has designed them to be.  One day, they'll each need to make tough decisions and if they've never made the little initial ones they won't know what to do.  I can honestly say I trust our kids.  We've watched them, made mental notes, and have developed trust.

The boys were grateful they were allowed to go to the party.  They handled the situation very well.  On the way to the car our middle son announces with enthusiasm, "Mom, there wasn't any inappropriateness!  We just played in the pool and ate."  He was so happy it was a great party and there was fun had by all.  Furthermore, he knew his semi-stressed out momma could breathe a sigh of relief.  One milestone on this journey of parenting was reached.

Coincidentally, or not so much so, Focus on the Family has a radio broadcast today about raising and parenting teens.  It's well worth the listen! 

Here's the link:  http://www.focusonthefamily.com/popups/media_player.aspx?MediaId={71FAEC9D-F42B-42D7-A23D-AE3F5206F24B}

Our oldest and I.  Taking the teen years one day at a time, and having a being blessed along the way.

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