sometimes, i’ll admit, i’m a little afraid of my children.
whew. i said it.
although i’m gut-level honest when i say that i 100% believe they belong to their Creator and they’re His to do with as He wishes, i also have to say that lots of times, i feel the responsibility completely lies on my (and, yes, my husband’s) shoulders. i start to panic inside that if i get it wrong, they’ll fall apart and it’ll be all. my. fault. no pressure.
i want them to be not just good people, but successful. sometimes i really want that to be by the world’s standards. because, yeah, to some extent, their success reflects on me. (i will have devoted decades of my life, after is all said and done, won’t i, to their upbringing and education? i do hold some responsibility.) and deep down in my heart of hearts, i want them to be happy. carefree, and smiley, and self-fulfilled, in the sense that they’re not looking to others to continually affirm or fulfill them. (happy isn’t bad – it just can’t become an elusive idol that thrives on self-gratification at the cost of calling.) and happy, in my mama-mind, means that they like me. because again, it comes back to me.
sure, i’ll pooh-pooh modern child-rearing patterns that focus on providing every little whim of a desire to kids, on spending all your efforts becoming best friends with them instead of allowing them the gift of having a close confidant who is also their first, most loving authority. but deep inside, i want them to like me. a lot. and sometimes, that desire for my own affirmation makes me hesitant to give them what they really need: strong, consistent, yes, steeped-in-love, but fearless and no-holds-barred discipline. and if i do something they don’t like, they might not like me. horror.
recently we’ve had a character struggle with one of our older children. he’s an awesome kid, and people compliment him often on his kindness, his politeness, his maturity, his self-discipline. he has all those things, in spades even, compared to lots of kids. but he also struggles with some heart issues that we don’t want to let go unnoticed. in his quest for independence, he may work to manipulate a situation to get his way. when he’s pressed, like a cat caught in a corner, he may lash out ugly, disrespect spewing from him. and he doesn’t admit to it easily, making him unteachable in the moment.
i too, often behave the same way, fighting for my own wants and working life to get what i think i deserve from it. and i’m an actor, so i can do that while looking good on the outside to the untrained eye. so he comes by it honestly. but i can’t dismiss my responsibility to call it out in him, to challenge him higher by recognizing and dying to it. and worse, (and yes, i have!) i can’t shirk my call to confront him because i’m a scared little girl inside, not wanting my kid to be mad at me, just like i didn’t want the cool girls to not like me way back in junior high. or more to the point, not wanting him to feel about me, the way i once felt about a parent who treated me unjustly.
so yes, i have to question myself. i have to dig deep and be sure that i’m not calling out in him a behavior that’s just inconvenient or might “look bad to the neighbors.” i have to seek unity with my partner in parenting and not react with emotion to an ugly seeming-attack on me, hurting my feelings and my pride as a parent. but when the rubber meets the road and truth needs to be spoken in love and faithfulness, i’ve gotta “woman up.” i have to work in team with the dad of these arrows we’re sharpening to pierce the heart of their world with love and passion and justice and right-ness, and stand up for them, even when it means doing the scary, the hard thing.
do you have teens? i’d love to hear what you’re learning in the trenches…