Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Main Thing

Matching shirts, completely different boys

Here's what I neglected to talk about in Friday's post concerning the rearing of teenagers, and the thing that was the most important factor of all in getting through the Boys' teenage years: Knowing that God was in control.

The teenage years are about the transfer of power from you to your child, and this is a tricky business. Up until now, if you've been a good parent, you've had the power over externals. You decided when he was going to bed and when he was getting up, you monitored when (and what) he was eating, you tried to surround him with other kids who appeared to be good influences. In all the ways that matter to a kid, you had the power.

During the teenaged years, though, all of that parental power gradually shifts to the teenager, and no one makes that transition without at least some chaos. Sometimes the chaos is epic in its scale.

Suddenly you're waking up at midnight, or 2 a.m., and his light is still on while he finishes homework (or a video game). He's bringing home a friend that doesn't seem quite...nice. He's "forgetting" to turn in the job application, and missing curfew, and talking to you in a way that makes you think "if I had talked to my mother like that...."

And you know you aren't seeing the worst of the teen behavior. As parents (and oh, I am so in this club) we only see a tiny fraction of our children's lives once they are out of elementary school. We don't see how they behave with teachers or friends. We don't see their online lives.

Nevertheless, we have no choice but to transfer our parental power to these kids who are being so utterly unpleasant. (After Friday's post Husband reminded me of the time we took a bedroom door off its hinges for a week as a reminder that doors were not for slamming.) This is not an optional exercise; for healthy children, this transition to independence will be made whether you are ready or not, regardless of your opinions concerning the teen's readiness.

The only way I was able to get from one day to the next was by turning them over to God.

Hundreds, no THOUSANDS of times during their teenaged years I reminded myself that no one loved these boys more than Husband and I did--except God. That no one cared more what happened to them--except God. We did our best to be good stewards of the lives that had been entrusted to us, to "train them up in the way they should go," but ultimately the One who was in control of their lives was not us--it was God.

So today when someone remarks that we have nice Boys (and we do have great Boys) my response is not one of false modesty. I am sincere when I say that we wouldn't have taken blame if they had turned out to be sociopaths, and we won't take credit for the terrific men they have become.

We thank God.

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