I’m going through so much personal upheaval right now that the only thing I can liken it to is the teen years. Raging hormones. Relationship problems. Fear of the future. Identity confusion. Questions about faith.
How is it that someone on the verge of 59 feels like someone on the verge of 15? I don’t have a ton of answers right now, much like a teen being interrogated by their parents about why they did something mundane like leave socks on the floor, or something monumental like say yes to drugs.
What I do know is that I was NOT easy on my seven children when they were teens and I wish I were. I wish I were easy on them because they are human and therefore weak. Weak the way I feel right now amid incredible personal disruption and uncertainty.
I wish I were easy on them because they tried hard to please me, much the same way I try to please them now even though all are grown. The tables have turned, a desire in me now to be sure I don’t say and do the wrong things. I don’t want my grown children to judge or accuse me. I am sure that’s how they felt during their teen years, worried I would bark about their lapses in judgment, lack of spirituality, failure to do chores. Dumb stuff when I think about it now. Big stuff when they were teens.
We parents make dumb stuff big stuff because we are seriously afraid that our teens will make a humongous mistake. She’ll get pregnant. He’ll drive drunk. They’ll turn from God. These fears we parents carry drive us to be hard instead of easy on our teens. Undoubtedly, this is love at work. We care about our teens and want what’s best for them. But it’s also fear and doubt at work. We don’t think God is watching them, helping them, protecting them, and forgiving them. We don’t want them to learn from their own mistakes. We want them to learn from OUR mistakes and we are convinced that shaming, scolding, and punishments will motivate them.
We are wrong about that. We are wrong because teens are already hard on themselves. Their peers are hard on them. Their teachers and coaches are hard on them. When their mom is hard on them too, home doesn’t feel safe. It’s not a place of grace where it’s okay to be human and fail.
I am saddened when I think about how my expectations and standards for cleanliness and godliness annoyed and discouraged my teens. In my defense, I had teenaged children in my house for 18 straight years! That’s a lot of dumb stuff and big stuff to manage and pray about.
Even still, I wish I had relaxed more and trusted more. I wish I had smiled more and danced more. I wish I had hugged more and affirmed more. Big stuff I am learning to do now when I am tempted to be hard on myself.