Archive for the ‘Parents Role as Children Learn to Be Independent’ Category

A year ago when I wrote this post, a son went from cap-and-gown to boots-and-uniforms. the  My prayers went where I could not. They still do. Parenting is a faith journey. Sometimes it is a hard faith journey – but a year later, looking back, a years worth of journey has seen prayers answered and good changes that do a mother’s heart glad. A year later is sometimes an encouraging place to be. Please enjoy with me a post about unconditional love in the journey.

Unconditional Love recognizes that there are roads loved ones must travel alone.

Maybe  over 100 years ago, people understood those kinds of journeys much better, the literal journey helping to better understand the figurative journey. When you stepped out the family door to start a journey, communication and physical contact was like disappearing into thin air. Parents did not consider it lack of love from their off-spring or even rebellion battling for independence. It was just life in a revolutionary country known for pushing the boundaries of existence.

Meriwether Lewis was only 26 years old when he was commissioned for the Lewis and Clark expedition. It was a journey his mother didn’t take with him.  Or Benjamin Bonneville who, according to a list of notable West Point graduates, “explored and mapped the Great Salt Lake and the Green, Snake, Salmon and Yellowstone Rivers.”  Then, there is Davey Crockett who ran away from home at age 13 before returning at age 16. All left home, going into places where communication with parents was minimal or non-existent. Unless communication occurred via letters, contact over long periods of time was practically non-existent.

All these men left home and by leaving home became men strong enough to carry the burdens of great responsibility.

Lewis and Bonneville left home out of logical design. Much smoother. Much friendlier. Probably leaving hearts warmed with pride and eyes threatening tears at a son going out into the world – to continue life’s journey.

Crockett left out of passion. Probably leaving a mother’s heart frantic, filled with despair, and maybe a little broken-ness inside. He returned 3 years later, to fulfill his obligations, making things right – and went on to become a national hero.

Yes, even today sometimes, we have to let loved ones travel alone, without that mama contact, without the safety-net, without help or words of love and encouragement that are bursting from a father or mother’s heart; sometimes without closure. Sometimes those journeys are fraught with mortal and spiritual danger. Sometimes it takes that kind of journey for them to finally recognize and embrace the person they were designed to become. Unconditional Love lets go like that.

We are spoiled today with instant communication. Everything is at our fingertips. However, growing into maturity is not an instant thing. At times like this, when our loved ones are on unreachable journeys, prayer can reach them, touch them, love them for us – when our words and our arms cannot. When we cannot sustain relationship, prayer still loves.

“So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.” (Ezekiel 22:30)

Our children, regardless of age, need us to “stand in the gap” before our Father, even when they are adults and in charge of their own spiritual health – we need to encourage them through prayer.

21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

 23Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

 24He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

 25The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

 26He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

 27“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

 28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.(Matt 15:21-28)

A  mother interceding for her children through prayer. Touching their lives more effectively through prayer than with a hug or with words. Prayer can go places you cannot. Prayer allows a mother or father to connect when a child’s journey does not allow connection.

Letting go is a growing thing: a faith thing: a prayer thing – sometimes a necessary thing.

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Once upon a time, my boys were little enough to fit beneath the microscope of my attention. I could identify the entry point of every new word in their increasing vocabulary. I knew every friend, every friend’s mom and the nature of those friendships.  I could match every sock, find every shirt and dress them neatly for church without much of a howl.

Beneath the microscope, they learned the following kinds of things:

How to Pray
Handle nightmares
Discern Friendship
How to Read
How to Swim
Handle Frustration
See Animals in the Clouds
Appropriate ways to Say No
Not to Talk to Strangers
How to Really Blow your Nose
How to properly shove off with your upper arm in soccer so you don’t foul with your elbow
How to make boxed brownies in the 3rd grade and homemade cakes in the 5th grade
How to make your needs known if you are a need stuffer
Unconditional Love

Beneath the microscope, how they ate, what they ate and when they ate – well, I pretty much knew where it came from – and, yes, where it went – and, hhhhmmm, probably even what it looked like for a long time at its exit.  I still miss orange noses from sweet potatoes and carrot baby foods. All beneath the microscope.              

All children should have parents who place them beneath the microscope – because this studying of their hearts, learning of their dreams, recognition of their gifts – better enables nuturing what God placed within them, better enables healthy healing of their hurts in addition to teaching them to heal their hurts, and train each how to handle their individual challenges. 

Pre-12 is just the training ground to prepare for ages 12 to 20. From 12 to 20, my behavior,  my message is meticulously examined by my boys.

Around age 12 – suddenly, everything starts changing, from knowing what goes on inside the classroom, to the nature of their friendships, to some things they know and when they knew it? “Where did that word come from?” leaves me guessing. Well, their desire for independence, even 12-year-old independence, has burgeoned so they literally pop themselves from beneath the microscope.

In their quest for independence, they have turned the tables, placing me beneath the microscope.  They have so diminished me in their hearts and minds that I fit there, at least in their estimation. I am not saying this is a bad thing. Maybe our children as they grow need to think of us as little before they realize really how wonderfully big we are inside.

It is not comfortable beneath the microscope. They record findings with which I disagree. Beneath the microscope, the parent is not nurtured.  It is a cold, critical place. They re-evaluate the slide notes I recorded of what I placed inside them (you know, all those messages, those values, insights, every good  intention instilled) and compare with their fresh notes of how they see my behavior beneath the microscope. Frustratingly, 12-to-20-year-old microscopic analytical skills are short-sighted. 

When the parent is placed beneath the microscope, it is not a nurturing act. It is a tearing apart and putting back together. They are studying themselves and studying us, seeing if everything we hold them accountable for is within us, too.

Nuance discernment is non-existent. Sharp focus comparing and contrasting message and action rules. Recognition of discrepancies in behavior and action is followed by a stiff call to verbal accountability – and they remember! I am judged by what I have instilled within them. Brutally so! The do not let me forget when I fail.

It can be a scorching place, beneath the microscope of my children.  Being the parent of a 12-to-20-year-old is vastly different from being a parent to a pre-12-year-old. It is an important time, an important training, this testing of that which we placed within them.

No more pre-nap failings, missing it, only to put them down for a nap and the moment is forgotten. No! When the saying “the memory of an elephant” came into the language, they must have been talking about this particular age group.

Starting at age 12, out from under the microscope, they make decisions (12-year-old decisions) on friendship, vocabulary choices, how to communicate with the parents, struggling for more independence – readying for the great pull-away at 14/15.  Out from under the microscope, they test those ideals, those values, throw some away, hold some close, and retrieve some they thought useless. It is a tough time for them, just as it is a tough time being a mom.

It is a time I risk being mis-labeled, suffering a level of censoring, my failings enlarged beneath this microscope. I desperately hold on to the promises of my Father, my faith that they will return, re-analyze with fresh eyes and fresh wisdom, and recognize the valuable specimen they had all along.

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