Before our young people can begin to realize or understand who they aspire to be or even envision themselves as they will most likely mimic others. This intrinsic behavior is common in our society. As parents, we want to mold, shape, or guide them in ways that seem right to us. We want to steer them away from the mistakes we’ve made. However, they see us for who we are in real time. Unfortunately, they sometimes see us behaving in ways we advise against. We also make the mistake of not listening to them. “We are not your friends” they are told, “we are your parents”. We don’t have to agree with what you say. You just need to listen to us. Until we listen attentively to what they are in fact saying, we’ll never understand what went wrong. We must hear exactly what they’re saying in order to guide them. Not hearing is the same as not knowing the water is way too deep and then proceeding to jump in anyway. Right guidance and right instructions can only be given with the right knowledge. I hear you say the water is too deep. I totally ignore that fact and proceed to tell you about how safe shallow water is. Listening to our young people’s struggles is half the battle. When we listen, we know what they are thinking, their opinions, and more importantly, how to redirect their train of thought. Our children belong. They like most people in our society, are faced with constant change. The space that they are in, is theirs. Their voices matter. We must not make them feel judged. Good directions come from a place of love, recognizing that we, too, belong.
When our young people’s voices can not be heard only judged, they tend to move towards those who do hear them. And when they do, they hear the good or bad influences imposed by those who listen. Their intent is to steer them away from the truth. Dear parents let your child know their voice is important, to you. They will be more apt to talk freely and openly as a direct result. More importantly, they will listen to your advice.
I know how to step back and allow my adult children to be adults regardless of their choices and the results. It is sometimes necessary for us as parents to find our own way and stop trying to forge the path for our children. They will follow our lead, or perhaps they will embrace paths we feared to. It’s their choice. They are no longer tethered to our side. Each journey we take in life leads to new possibilities and new discoveries. Just think, how would 15-year-old you see you today? Would you be willing to follow your lead? Would see yourself as never achieving your goals in life? Do you feel you have achieved your true purpose for being? Would you be elated and overjoyed about every choice you made during the course of your life? Would there be regret? Longing? Did you end up where the 15-year-old you were headed? It may feel like you are abandoning your baby in the stroller by giving them space and time to grow. You won’t be. There are risks. However, finding the ways and means of guiding them while simultaneously allowing them the freedom to explore life’s unique pathways – the path created by God for them can be very challenging. Growth comes as a result of experiencing difficulties and diversity. The risks are real, challenges will come and go, and life holds uncertainty. Don’t give up on them. Don’t quit. Do your best. With the help of God, you will find the end results offers so much more than you could have ever conceived.