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“mom, I’m only 12, you know”

05 Mar

This post was supposed to be a quick link of Gwyneth’s testimony when we were in the East last week, two weeks ago. Easy, quick, “published”.

Two weeks later, here I am at it again. Revising. It is true what “they say” about how writing things out causes you to think more, process more, and in turn learn more about yourself, about the situation, and for me, about God. This post is proof of that! Now if I can just get it out of my head and sounding right. . . .

When Zac and I were invited to the East to speak at a youth group, 2 weeks ago,  Emili and Gwyneth were also invited to give a testimony for the middle school group. We accepted the invitations, for all of us, without asking the girls. Their reaction when we told them?  “Mom, I’m only 12 you know.”

I wrote a little while ago about this struggle I have of letting my kids make their own choices, verses making it for them as a parent. I struggle to find balance between teaching/leading them and forcing them to do something they are really scared to do.  It scares me.

“Will I make a mistake?”

“Is this really that important to do?”

“will this teach them or hurt them in the long run?”

My brother in law wrote me,

“if children were let off doing everything they didn’t like  all they would do is eat candy and watch tv–if they ever got out of bed”

I can definitely see his point. And actually read it to my kids when i received the email. They laughed, and agreed. But still, there is this big area of choices: some choices that are important, some that are not. How am I suppose to know which are the important ones?

When it is a sin issue (telling lies, being honest), those choices are black and white, and easy to make (mostly). What about choices involving commitment? Choices that could bring about integrity (keeping your word and such)?  Those too, seem a little easier to navigate. But what if the choice is about something that is not so “moral”, like what clothes to wear (washed, without holes, appropriate for the weather) or eating your food, or singing lessons, or playing an instrument? Or speaking/giving testimony?  What are the guidelines here!?

And what if the child really opposes it?

Is it “ok” to give them incentive (bribing them to do something hard, hoping to “show” them they can do it, God will help them). And what if that doesn’t work, and they still don’t want to do it?

I like absolute authority. We see it over and over in scripture. Moses, Aaron, Abraham, Lot’s wife . . .  God doesn’t often give details, and still there is obedience, and sometimes not. then, we see the consequences.

In scripture, obedience to God’s absolute authority gives him respect AND shows faith.   We believe He knows what is best for us, even when we don’t know all the details. The examples God gives us in his Word, show us, we don’t need details. Faith is all we need. Faith in God. He is good, He knows and wants what is best for us.

I like this system.  and so many times I want this system for my parenting. “I am the authority God has put over you. You are respecting me by your obedience, and by faith you choose to obey, even without details, trust I am doing what is right for you” Sounds good to me. I see this in some families, and I like. I like it a lot. It seems right (to me) especially when they are little. But when do the rules change?

Because my kids. . .my kids want the details. They want the why, it’s important to them.  and I want the absolute obedience. And it becomes struggle. And when there is this struggle, it shows me a part of myself, I don’t like. The person I become when I feel disrespected.

To me it seems it would be simpler if we functioned this way in our house. Less problems, less arguments, less disappointments. For me, at least. and there is this  other part says:  What about communication? When is it necessary? How much is necessary? Where is the balance?

I remember the article I read on Focus on the Family, about Billy Ray Cryus:

‘You know what’s important between me and Miley is I try to be a friend to my kids’? I said it a lot. And sometimes I would even read other parents might say, ‘You don’t need to be a friend, you need to be a parent.’ Well, I’m the first guy to say to them right now: You were right. I should have been a better parent. I should have said, ‘Enough is enough–it’s getting dangerous and somebody’s going to get hurt.’ I should have, but I didn’t. Honestly, I didn’t know the ball was out of bounds until it was way up in the stands somewhere.”God has given the children parents.

Wow. This is my fear. That allowing communication with my kids about choices will put my guard down and the ball will get out of bounds. And I only have one chance at this; and I don’t want to screw up their life.

Fear. it makes me do crazy things. And makes me into someone I don’t want to be.

I watched a movie with my kids over the weekend and one of the quotes I want to remember is: Fear is good, but my reaction to fear (panic, anxiety) can kill you. It wasn’t a Christian film, but I could find lots of scripture to back that one up.

I don’t have the answers. However, I do have more concrete thoughts after writing all this down than I did when I started. And I can’t say we had a solid reason why we decided for our girls to do this testimony. I can only tell the results. They did it. They were scared and nervous. They complained about it (more than once). They needed our help. And in the end, they did it. They did it well (and maybe they don’t believe that).

And when I was bold and asked, Was it wrong to make you do it?

“No, she says, it wasn’t wrong to make me, it was still a good thing for me to do.”

Wow. Thank.You.God.

 

 

 

 

 
 

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