This is the fourth reflection on the book by Growing With by Kara Powell and Steve Argue. If you want to start from the beginning, start here.
You might think I’m writing these posts for you, and I am, sorta. Really, I’m writing these posts for me, as a reminder of the parent I still need to be and the parent my kids need at this stage in their life.
If you have young kids, you might be fantasizing about what a quiet house might feel like or what the day will look like when the last kids leaves. I can vouch that after launching three kids out into the world, it was very exciting, at first. When you’re not meeting needs every day for someone who who used to totally rely on you for everything, life get’s a little weird. Parenting from afar is much harder
I have one child in the focuser phase and two in the explorer phase (see last post) and I love the illustration in Growing where psychologist Lisa Damour shares the idea of our kids as swimmers, she says,
“our daughter’s (and sons) need a wall to swim to, and she needs you to be a a wall that can withstand her comings and goings”
Some parents never want their kids to leave the wall because every time their kids push off, it hurts their feelings. Swimmers are going to swim, take a rest and swim some more. It’s hard for a fragile ego to be a wall when it wants to be the life preserver that goes with our kids everywhere.
The constant back and forth to the wall can lead to tension which eventually leads to a fight. Every time our kid comes back to the wall for a breather are we always asking,
when are you going to get married?
when are you getting a job?
are you going to go back to college?
when are you going to find your own place?
My fear, with all my children, is that they would push off to soon, before they’ve rested and caught their breath. My fear was that they would push off before they were ready and feel like they had no wall to return to. My worst fear is that they would drown, because I drove them to the open waters of life before they were ready.
I’ve used the term launch with my middle son before this book came out. I told him, “We want you to launch when you’re ready to launch”. There’s a fine balance in that. My son recently told his mother that she (we) made it too easy for him to come back, that none of his other friends were allowed to come home. On one hand you want to feel like the good parent and on the other you asking, are we tough enough.
The Growing With book has a great set of questions for when your child boomerangs home as well as a host of other advice for when any how to disagree with your child when your morals don’t match.
I mentioned earlier about tensions rising as kids push off and grab on and how fighting can be the result of these encounters. Growing With has another great quote from Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof,
“When you fight with someone, YOU want to win. When you fight for someone, you want THEM to win. When you fight with people, walls are built up. When you fight for people, wall are torn down.”
I want to fight for my kids not with them. I want walls to come down, not be put up. Let me offer a few “fighting techniques”
Fight for you kids in prayer
I pray daily for my kids. I pray that God blesses them and keeps them. I pray for open doors of opportunity. I pray for our relationships and my role in those relationships. I let God do what I cannot and take hold of what only I can and should do as their dad.
Fight for your kids by holding on to God’s promises
Many parents claim Proverbs 22:6 too early. It says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Some of my kids are not old enough to have this thing called wisdom. They are out earning it right now through dumb choices.
Fight for your kid by remembering your own journey
Think of the time when you were not living for the Lord and how God dealt with you. I think about my days and wonder how I even survived. My son is where I was and the same God who invaded my space and took hold of me, is the same God who will do this for my kids when they wander.
Fight for your kid with grace not judgment
Whoever your kids are now, it’s not who they will be in 5 years. It’s hard to remember that so we burn bridges or hold the line so hard they feel like we won’t accept them unless they _____________________ (fill in the blank)
It’s ok to tell your kids you’re struggling with something in their life, and maybe you can have a conversation about it to at least come to an understanding rather than always being awkward. Grace is not permission, grace is love no matter what.
I can’t recommend the book Growing With enough. If you haven’t picked up the book yet, you can grab it here. If you’re the parent of a teen, soon to be teen or a young adult; Growing with gives you the tools to be what your kids need when they need it.