"…I look back on the way I was then, a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. Try and talk some sense into him…."
~ Red, to the Parole Board, Shawshank Redemption
If you're a parent, even if you've got The Best Kids on the Planet, there will be a point you're disappointed in the choices they and/or their friends make. Even if you love their friends almost as much as your own, even if they're active in church or they're leaders at school, even if they're straight-A students. Even if their transgression isn't that big of a deal in the overall scheme of life, even if it's not life or death, even if no one gets hurt. Even if it's only a matter of style or opinion, or flaw-marred character or attitude in need of adjusting.
Even, even, even…!
I'm a mother to three older teenagers and I watch the fret and worry of mothers with their younger children and I wonder and muse their futures. Mine, theirs, all of ours.
You rarely see what's actually coming.
I've often thought about the wisdom of Red in this scene quoted from Shawshank Redemption; not that any "terrible crimes" were committed in my youth, just that my older self sure could have prevented my younger self from making some stupid, impulsive decisions.
I'm afraid stupid, impulsive decisions never go out of style.
So, when your children and their friends grow older and Do Stupid Things, when "try and talk some sense into them" is futile (or after the fact), when you're angry or hurt or horrified or a combination of all three, remember–
- time reveals perspective
- their poor decisions don't mean you've failed as a parent
- their brains aren't fully developed (though this is NO excuse for personal responsibility)
- sometimes we actually LEARN from our mistakes; hopefully whatever they did this time will prevent them from doing something much worse down the road
- You have to forgive them
- Love isn't conditional
- If they're believers, God is at work in them and even mistakes can be redeemed for good.
Two lessons all parents are served well to teach their children:
- Their sin will find them out, sometimes in the unlikeliest of ways. Make sure you have a "village." Stay in touch with other adults, teachers, coaches and parents who are willing to risk your friendship/relationship by being honest.
- There are always consequences to poor decisions. For Shawshank's Red, it was prison. For most of us, the price is less severe. Sometimes consequences occur naturally, other times they're the form of punishment or restriction by adults; either way, let your children bear the weight of consequence. It's a wonderful deterrent to "next time."
"Kids will be kids" is alright most of the time; but when kids aren't held responsible for their actions, adults or parents are the ones at fault.
Broken trust is a challenge to restore but it can be done; make sure they earn it.
right there with you sista! they do the darnest things. in retrospect so did i, but it would be nice if they could learn from ours too! and so true about the Lord working on them and us at the same time!
I love every word of this! I feel like this is a huge whole in my mentoring life. I know lots of moms with littles, and grandmas with grown children, but few mommas in the thick of teen/young adult adventures. While the littles are physically draining I truly believe parenting, really parenting, the older kids is a whole different kind of hard. Discipline and real discipleship of “good kids” is filled with questions that you don’t have with the littles. Thank you!
Why is it always the case that three fingers point back from the one in accusation??? Le sigh. How can I NOT forgive when I've been so great an offender??
Wow, Katy…You've actually tapped into something I have up my sleeve…so I'm THANKFUL if ANY of this is helpful to you (and any young mom 🙂 ).
We have had a challenging couple of years with our oldest (21). Many things but the worst was her spitting out to us that she doesn’t think she believes in God and we were terrible for making her go to church and memorize verses and do youth group, etc. Never mind she loved all of those things. We have been praying God would bring her back from the place she is now (preferably BEFORE He has to do something drastic to get her attention).
I thought things were moving in the right direction when two Sundays ago our nine year old was baptized. The older one was in tears saying she was a disappointment to us and she let us down. My husband and I managed to say some right things (PTL). We asked what did we do to make her feel like a disappointment, she said nothing she can think of. So we said, it’s not us that’s making you feel this way, maybe you should think about who/why you are feeling this way. We hoped this would be the start of her return. Probably not because this weekend was spent at her boyfriend’s for his 21st birthday partying and playing something called shot chess.
Sorry, not sure why I hijacked your comment section.
You are my yoda #thatisall
one thing that was a challenge to us last year while in Itlay. The alcohol issue. Having a 17 yr old with us and at each meal a wine glass was brought to the table for him as well as us. In the end we let him decide if he wanted to imbibe. Apparently, some of the fun must have been taken out of it because he rarely took more than a few sips. Wonder how other parents handle this?
Oh, Beth…hard things, all. During those seasons (which can seem FOREVER) of Very Hard Times, since you can't do a thing to change others (in this case, your daughter), I always pray that God will reveal to ME what he's trying to teach ME through the rough edges of life. NOT that I'm pointing a finger at you in this circumstances, just that I'm sure there's something new to see (whether as a parent or simply daughter of the King). I'm praying for her now, too, Beth. That's the hardest thing for a believing parent to bear…and I pray that all these choices will compel her to make better ones.
Diaper Diaries ~
Yoda, I am?
Blessing you are, to me. 🙂
We're in Germany for six months, facing the same thing for our 18 & 19 year olds; not that I'd recommend my choices to anyone, but we'll let them try it; it's not breaking the law here and we've always stressed responsibility and moderation as opposed to outright opposition. I'm one of those who believes taking the prohibition out of it lessens the interest. And see, your son wasn't that interested when you didn't make a big deal of it…so maybe this approach was a good one for you, too.
I don’t have kids yet, but I wish my parents had trusted God more to teach me when I was a young adult (early 20s). They instead felt full responsibility for my actions even when I had left home, and piled on the guilt every time I misstepped. I was trying to figure out life and was hard enough on myself without that added negative pressure. This put a great strain on our relationship as well, which continues to this day.
When the boys were very young we started reminding them that they were responsible for their own choices and the consequences! I cannot tell you HOW valuable that has been over the years as they have entered adulthood….now 24, 21 and 17. It was a well established concept for them!
Now, that being said…. I think one of the hardest things is to sit back and let their relationship with God become personal. I want my kids to have what I didn’t find until my mid-30s….in spite of being raised in the church.
I have to continually remind myself that God loves them more than I ever could and has that under control. My kids know truth and have a good foundation, but the relationship needs to be THEIRS!
Take hear! My sister went through that phase in college and she quickly got back on track around 23-24! She had to work through some stuff with God but He is faithful! 🙂