Kids and Parents
My kids are 20, 18, and 13. Needless to say, we are in the thick of parenting right now. And here's what I see. We have many of our kids' friends hang out at our house. Many do so because their own homes are volatile and explosive. Kids and their parents fight constantly, and it seems nobody is happy.
Here's what I think is happening. Many years ago my church had a guest speaker talk to our confirmation group about parent/teen relationships. He explained that a parent's job from the moment of conception is to move constantly and gradually from total control to little or no control over the kid's life. The kid's job is to move constantly and gradually from no control to total control over their own life. On a graph, it might look something like this:
Guess where parents and teens are? Right inside the red circle, fighting for control. The parents have a hard time letting kids be responsible after a lifetime of needing to be the responsible ones, and the kids have a hard time seeing the wisdom and experience their parents bring to the table. It's a totally natural thing for parents and teens to engage in these power struggles.
Knowing this can be a tremendous tool in parenting. When parents can begin to trust their kids, they honor God. When kids respect that parents are doing their best to protect and prepare them, they honor God. Both need to give a little for the relationship to work.
In my household, my partner and I have made a commitment to trust our kids until they give us reasons not to trust them. And for the most part, our kids have lived up to their part of the deal. We are far from perfect parents. And our kids are far from perfect kids. But we are happy. Our home is peaceful. We rarely fight. We show respect. We have meaningful conversations. We express our love. And in doing so, we honor God.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Ephesians 6:1-4
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” —this is the first commandment with a promise: “so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.