Zac and I had a conversation the other day. An online friend of his thinks his dad and I are too strict.
“You won’t let me stay up as late as I want. That’s unfair,” he said.
I thought about it for a minute. We’ve had several of these discussions before.
“I know it looks like that to you,” I said. “But no boundaries – getting to do whatever you want – is not love. Your friend who can do whatever he wants to do whenever, he’s experiencing neglect. That isn’t love. It’s the opposite.”
Our job as parents is to teach our kids how to make good decisions and to know right from wrong. In the beginning, we make all the decisions. We feed them, change them and let them play on a schedule that works for us. We dress them in the closest clean item(s). As they get older, they get to choose between a couple of options. Peanut butter and jelly or ham and cheese for lunch? Green dress with white polka dots or red dress with purple and blue flowers? And on from there. The progression, hopefully, is gradual and continuous. It ends when they move out to live on their own.
Psst! Teenagers generally don’t know correct information, despite having the internet at their fingertips and their propensity to spill everything they’ve ever done. We’ve discussed several hot buttons with Zac. We’ve given our input on relationship quandaries. But we leave it up to him to figure out how to handle situations. Yes, we pray for him – always have. We’ve told him, If you have questions, ask. We have been there and done that. We resisted the T-shirt, however, because it was crap.
Are we so different as adults? We *really* want to do something, but we know it’ll be hurtful in the long run. Sometimes we even try it, like staying up late and eating an overabundance of treats. The next morning we awaken with a twinkie hangover, regret our closest friend. Mercifully, many times the God-given boundaries of law and conscience reel us back from the brink. Yet not before we’ve pouted some and maybe even whined to God about it. “It’s not fair!”
Love, as I’ve written about before, doesn’t always translate as soft and fluffy. I’m sure Zac thinks we have a funny way of showing our love. At nearly 15, Zac is well into the last phase of transitioning to adulthood. He can fend for himself a bit. He knows how to cook (a little), clean and fold clothes. He picks up after himself. He does dishes. He budgets his allowance for what he wants most and the rest gets banked. He sometimes spontaneously hugs me. He does tasks he doesn’t like, without complaining or arguing. Most importantly, he’s learning to discern right from wrong, real love from fake love. Those are life skills that will serve him well in every phase of his life.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. – I Corinthians 13:7