As Teen Lifeline continues to work with teens, there is that ever present parent factor. You know the one where you wish you could say just the right thing to the parent to help them better connect and guide their child(ren). A couple of things bring this home for me. I spent an hour or so at the CareNow clinic this weekend so that my 17 month old could get stitches for trying to fight with the bed frame (he lost). So he now has 4 stitches right between the eyes, which I am sure will be a scar to proudly show friends one day. Amid all that went into that happening, the nurse was putting a Sponge Bob band aid on his nose. As she did she asked if he liked Sponge Bob (to which I thought, really he is way too young). Good thing I didn’t say anything because she followed that with saying her 18 month old really likes it. I was a little stunned. Not enough to react but still stunned. Here her child can’t even talk yet and is already being influenced by Sponge Bob. I am not a fanatic against SB but the episodes I have seen tend to promote bad attitude and rude comments at the least. And one day she will wonder why her child has such a bad attitude and is so sarcastic, hmm let me guess.
The second was at the mall today. It was very much a first impression and so a judgement on my part. However, even if it didn’t apply here it does in other situations I’ve seen. My wife and I were eating at the food court with our boys and a family walked by. The mom was very lazily holding her baby and goofing off with whoever was with her. My wife and I looked at each other just thinking about, if she would hold the baby like that how well does she really care for it. Like I said this isn’t necessarily the case but there are definitely cases like that where parents really don’t care for their children well. The hard thing is it gets so much worse as they grow into teenagers and the repercussions are that too many times the cycle is repeated rather than avoided.
So for you parents out there that are looking for some help, here is one resource. A book by Dr. Walt Mueller that I have begun reading. It is called The Space Between. Just real quickly I want to wet your appetite for finding out more. At the end of chapter two he outlines what a parents job is. He says,
“My job as a parent is to seize the God-given opportunity to come alongside my kids, encourage and help them to make good decisions, support them, teach them, pray for them, and help them prioritize their “plates” so they can move through adolescence and on into the independence of a God-glorifying adulthood. In effect, parents are to gradually ease their children into taking ownership of their own lives.” (The Space Between, p. 35)
The thing is this should be a relief, but for so many parents it is not. They want to hold on and help their little ones as long as possible and then when they are ready to let go the child is still that, a child and doesn’t know what to do. Even as my oldest turns 3 I am already thinking about what I am doing to help him take ownership of his own life.
So here is my question for you as a parent, what are you doing to release your child rather than trying to shelter them? How can you start now preparing your son or daughter for the day that they will launch into their own future? The goal for them, and you, is to have a Life Lived Better.