In all generations we will declare Your greatness
and to all eternity we will sanctify Your holiness,
and Your praise, our God,
will not depart from our mouth
forever and ever.
I've been thinking quite a bit lately of the next generation. Now that my children are all in 'double-digits', I am hoping and praying that I am instilling in them the values and wisdom that they need and require to make good, solid decisions in their lives. In this pondering, I have encountered some differing views of how to handle the teen years. I guess I'm not so much the sheltering type of parent, but rather the 'spotter' type.
I firmly believe that by the time children reach their teen years, they have all the basic instruction they need. From the time they take their first steps and utter their first words, they have been taught how to be polite and use manners, be respectful to those around them, to show compassion and kindness, and to be helpful and considerate. As they grow, they have had chores to complete and responsibilities within the family. They have had the model of loving parents and have witnessed marriage in action (if not from their own parents, from those around them). They have watched their caretakers function out in the world conducting everyday business and running the necessary errands. And, in the best scenerio, they can even cook and keep their laundry clean without any help.
With any luck, they also have had some spiritual training...mine certainly have. Being a part of a believing congregation, reading and studying Scripture and talking about faith are all so important and necessary for healthy adults. I'm thinkin' no one has any disagreements with me so far.
But, here's where parents part ways; when do we allow them the opportunity to start making bigger decisions on their own? At what point do we let them make some not-so-good choices and bear the consequences for those actions? My mother was pretty clear with her answer, and I have to agree wholeheartedly with her. She would say that the best place to start making hard decisions is while still at home, with a safety net. How can anyone learn to make good decisions unless they have experienced bad ones? So often, we must experience the consequences of decisions in order to learn from them; the best place to do that is with your parents watching your back and walking with you through the hard lessons. As a homeschooling family, we are very used to sitting together, teaching, talking and modeling problem solving skills; these skills are necessary for everyone to learn. I just cannot teach my children, especially my daughter, to depend on someone else to make decisions for her. That just goes against every fiber of my being.
I was allowed to make my own decisions pretty early; my parents were insistent that they raise independent children. (Boy, did they! lol!) And, I made some whopper mistakes, I have to admit. However, even though I didn't always choose the best path, I knew I had a place to run to, to find protection and safety. I knew that they would be there to help me fix whatever I mucked up, but at the same time requiring me to take responsibility for my actions and how not to make the same mistake again. They had taught me well enough to be true to myself that there were lines I refused to cross - and that was my decision. I believe that saved me so many times. Training is absolutely crucial.
I pray that my children will feel loved and cared for, unconditionally, and that they know the love and care of HaShem.
I pray that they will be independent and will be able to make good, solid decisions that they can stand by and not regret.
I pray that they will feel confident in themselves and know that they are a valued member of whatever groups they choose to be a part.
I pray that they know themselves and their G-d without question, and not be swayed by peers or the whims of the majority.
I pray that they are blessed by the spouse that HaShem brings into their lives and that they are happy and fulfilled with the partner they choose.
I pray that they will be able to pass along all these things to the next generation diligently.
I ask HaShem for all these things and more for the children He has given me to train. But, in the end, I know that they do not belong to me at all, but to Him and He has their best interests in His hand. I pray for the strength of character and determination to guide them carefully and tenderly through these most trying of years. It is my hope that I will come out the other side having three wonderful friends as well as a legacy of strong, independent believers in the Most High G-d.