Now that I have three children who are adults, or painfully close, there are a lot of things I’m realizing about parenting. A lot of things.
One of the things I’m also realizing is that I was born in a weird time. The generation before us was hard-working, practical and solid. Yet, the generation coming up was a little more free-thinking, carefree and possibly more laid back.
So, those of us who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s may feel torn between two worlds.
I had a person tell me once that I was the type of person who liked things a certain way, yet it was also evident I had the urge to “color outside the lines,” too. That’s pretty accurate.
This has carried over into my parenting. There are plenty of times in the lives of my children that I have given them advice that they didn’t want to receive or told them things that they rejected. When I’d catch myself doing it, I could sometimes step back and let them go on their way – sort of like when I taught them to ride a bike and knew they’d fall. Or maybe they’d ride on and do just fine. It was a gamble.
My oldest son is in a season of life where he’s finding his niche in the world. He’s young, married and without kids at this point. He’s a creative person who sometimes has his head in different directions, but is also concrete in his thinking and solid at what he believes in.
The cool thing about our relationship is that we are able to be more like friends than parent and child these days. It’s a little easier for us to talk about life and the choices we make. Maybe he trusts us a little more.
Finding his niche has been a journey and a period of exploration. This is still going on. He’s been able to explore some options and has learned some lessons. He’s also kept a level head about himself, prayed and depended on counsel and advice from others besides his parents.
Moving jobs, taking chances, and going on a journey make certain people very nervous. I can’t always tell you I’m at peace about the choices my kids make, but I am thankfully calmer about it than I thought I’d be.
My practical side wants my children to find careers and situations that are safe, solid and dependable. I want them to be taken care of and, well, safe. I said that already, didn’t I?
But the adventurous, freer-thinking person born in the late 1960s wants to encourage my children to throw caution to wind and explore. Take chances, take risks. Fail if you must! Keep going. Find where you fit and do what you love. Keep your balance. Keep pedaling. Enjoy the ride.
I mean, I certainly don’t want my kids to be stuck in a job that they aren’t excited about – especially now while things are just starting out. I want them to be able to share their talents and have some amount of passion about what they do.
When my kids come to me with an issue, I can honestly say I try to provide a safe place for them to share. I am not rude or judgmental. I don’t use the words “Well here’s what I would do.”
I want my kids to keep coming back. If I start ramrodding them around and trying to tell them what to do all the time, they will eventually stop coming to me with anything.
I always have to provide a disclaimer. I’m not telling you how I behave to show you what a great parent I am. Thankfully, I’ve just had enough experiences and also I believe, guidance from God, to just listen and respond the way my kids need me to respond. Good for me! Right?
As parents, we have to provide that unconditional environment. It’s really not easy. We may say things to our kids to make them think we will always support, no matter what. But, it’s also very easy to imply things and to get across to our kids that there are certain things they can do that will cause us to add additional stars to their crowns. That’s not good.
We gotta keep ourselves in check.