When I had children of my own 20+ years ago, I was determined to do things right. My children would know that I loved them without question, and they would follow the rules I set forth because that is what I expected of them.
This actually worked as I planned until the dreaded teen years hit. Each went through their own form of rebellion at a different age. My middle daughter waited until 17, but it hit my oldest at 15, and my youngest at 12. The biggest challenge was that my oldest and youngest were 15 and 12 at the same time.
They were even helping each other to conspire against my rules. My oldest would sneak out to spend the night at the neighbors they were forbidden to speak even speak to, and her sister would lie for her. My youngest would make phone calls or get into things while her sister ran interference with me. Most of the time I figured it out fairly quickly and set them straight before they ended up hurting themselves or doing something irreversible. It was a very trying time for me as a single parent.
The last straw came the day my two older daughters and I went to a football game with friends and left the youngest at home. Grounded. She was not to leave the house or even answer the door. We returned home two hours later to find that my youngest was not there. We checked with neighbors and friends, but no one had seen her. I wasn’t worried. I was just frustrated. I had a feeling she had gone somewhere with the neighbor children I mentioned earlier.
The girls and I went to the store to take care of a few things while waiting for her to return. We ran into a friend who told us they had seen her there a few minutes earlier. Big surprise. She was with those neighbors! Should I mention that they were 12 and 15, unlicensed and roaming the streets in their mothers car! I could go on, but that’s another story in itself.
Needless to say, by the time she arrived home I was no longer in the mood to discuss the situation with her. When she walked in the door my first words to her were, “go pack your things.” Without even asking my parents, I decided she was going to live with them for the rest of the school year. It was November of her 7th grade year and she needed some serious intervention. Sending her to my parents in the country seemed like just the right move at that point. She looked at me in disbelief and asked “What?“. I repeated my instruction and advised her she was going to Grandma’s in the morning. She spent the rest of the night in her room.
Those six months were the most difficult moments of her life while at the same time some of the most crucial to her emotional and spiritual development, as well as mine. I believe it was the most important step I ever took as her parent. Now that she is 20 years old she can look back and see how difficult those days were for me as well as her, and know that it was God’s leading that placed her there for her own well-being.
It’s hard sometimes to let our children fail or to see them in a situation that makes us as parents feel as if we have failed them. I have written before about how difficult it can be to answer the phone when my children call for fear that they are in trouble from which I cannot help them escape. The most difficult part is to know how to respond in the midst of that trouble. My first thought is to rescue them, but the Bible tells us in Proverb 3:12 http://bible.us/114/PRO3.12.NKJV,
“For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.”
We cannot always save them from their own choices. Sometimes we have to correct them or allow them to be corrected. Once they are beyond the grasp of our parental control we have to let God take over those reigns. He is in control and knows so much better than we as parents, the right path on which to lead them. He doesn’t need our approval or even theirs, but giving it to Him can make easier on all of us.
- Parenting from the Heart: Slow to Wrath (ourcrowdedheart.wordpress.com)