I hope y'all are finding yourselves pressing in to prayer a bit more this month as we dive in to how Life Happens for all of us and how our best battle plan is to turn to God in prayer!
Yesterday, we dug into Praying through Parenting with Part 1: Parenting Littles and Not So Littles! If you are in that season and missed the post, you can read that HERE.
Today, we will talk a bit more about shifting into Empty-Nesterhood and the Art of Letting Go - but before we get to go there, we must make it through the Joy that is the Teenage years!
Now listen, I know many of you may have read that in a sarcastic font, but I am more in line with Jen Hatmaker here. I loved parenting through the teen years!
I don't think you need to fear them or plan for how horrible they are going to be! I think we tend to forget that we hold the power of life and death in our tongues and we can either speak life and expect to have what we say, or we can be like Job and what we greatly fear just may come upon us!
So if you are just entering these 'trying' times of teendom, let me first and foremost encourage you to shift your thinking... Speak life --to yourself and to your kids, and expect God to guide you through and keep your hearts connected! He can do it... in fact, He WANTS to!
He WANTS your heart to heart connection with your teenagers to be strong!
Listen, I only had one. We have an Only Girlie who is now all grown up! Through (most of) her teens years, she was a dream. --Oh, she was human, so there is that!
(Remember what I said yesterday? Yeah... free will for everyone... Sometimes you may question God's thinking on that one through these years, but rest assured - He knows what He's doing. He knows what they are doing, too!)
Because I don't want to rehash what has already been poured out here and yet I still want you to know the hard parts of our parenting story --as well as the answered prayer parts... you can read posts written in the midst of some of the hard by clicking HERE, and HERE, and HERE at your leisure.
Just know this: My Girlie and I? We were super close... I'm talking Gilmore Girls close - only with a great Dad and with Jesus. We were a threesome and we loved each other well.
And we also hit a bump or two along the way that threatened to loosen those ties and replace that cord with a wall. --One she was constructing at times, but also one that I was tempted to build myself because, let me tell you, being hurt by your kids' choices can undo you. (Just like being hurt by your own choices, too!) Especially if you have fallen for the lie we warned about yesterday in tying your whole identity up in their choices (or performance, or appearance... you get the idea!)
Life Happens for us as parents, and for them as teens, and oh my -however life is happening for you and for them... turning to prayer should be our first reaction!
Declaring the Promises of God found in scripture over them --with them sometimes, if they will let you! Praying in faith that the plans that they are making and the plans that the Lord has already made will intersect and join together. Praying for their friends and future spouse. Praying for favor in school and on the job and in the sports world. Praying for their identity and that they will know who they are and Whose they are at a young age. Praying for protection and healing... physical and emotional and spiritual.
Prayer is our best tool and the best heart to heart connection that we can access when it comes to parenting in this season.
Community comes in as a close second. Listen --it helps to know you are not battling these hormonal wars alone, am I right? It helps to know that you are not fighting a lost cause.
Find others who are in it with you to pray together and find those who have made it through who can pray with wisdom and maybe a bit of insight that you haven't yet tapped into!
There are only three things you really need to know through this season in addition to the truth that PRAYER WORKS!
1. LOVE Wins. Love HAS to win! Grace is for everyone --maybe especially teenagers who are transitioning from childhood to learning how to adult! In the end, love always wins and when we are loving our kids on purpose, with purpose --well, they will see and feel and know this is truth!
More important than our outward appearance as a family that has it all together, is the inward assurance that, as a family, we are committed to Love.
If there is one Must Read book on relationships and parenting that will come in handy --no matter WHAT stage of parenting you are in, it is Loving Our Kids On Purpose by Danny Silk. In it, he teaches how 'when love and freedom replace punishment and fear as the motivating forces in the relationship between parent and child, the quality of life improves dramatically for all involved. They feel safe with each other, and the anxiety that created distance in the relationships is chased away by the sense of love, honor, and value for one another.'
Now here's the thing... I know how that can sound impossible and unrealistic. When I first read this book I felt like I was late to the game because my girlie was already a pre-teen. I also felt like maybe I was nailing it because most of the stuff in there, the Holy Spirit had led me to do in our parenting already. (Yeah... that was before some of the hard season!)
When Hard hit, I referred to the truth and tools in this book and it was a God-send in helping me to choose the higher, Kingdom way... rather than the knee-jerk, self-protecting, Because-I-said-so sort of way! And please don't think that this book takes away consequences. *Just ask my Girlie. She still to this day insists she was the only one in her class who actually got grounded or had her phone taken away! #MamaDontPlay
Between knowing and speaking on purpose what your teens' love language is, and intentionally replacing love and freedom for punishment and fear, insuring your heart to heart connection remains strong, we can not only survive the teen years, but our relationship with our nearly grown (Not So) Littles can THRIVE!
2. God is in control. I know. Oh, trust me, I know... Sometimes this will not feel true. Sometimes it may not look like truth either but I promise you, He is well aware of all that is going on. He knows the thoughts and feelings... the emotions and changes... the actions -both in the open and sneaky(ish) and the words -both spoken and uttered under breath and behind backs. (Theirs and ours!)
As stated earlier in this series, if it's not good... God is not done working it out yet! (Romans 8:28)
There will be days... months... long stretches of time, when it will be tempting to take control and rule with an iron fist. Listen - I have done that. But I have also learned to let go and let God and I can promise you that even when you may think you are the one in control, ultimately --you are not.
It's always Him!
When we give Him room to rule and reign, He takes charge and it's His mercy and kindness that leads to repentance. As I said above, this doesn't negate consequences to poor choices or bad attitudes, but oh my goodness, how it protects and encourages our teenagers to learn how to be better adults.
Adulting, as the kids say these days, IS hard! It is. It's not easy... and many are not doing such a great job at it. (This includes some of us, right? On any given day.) But God desires that we live in love and let love lead... He left and sent us the Helper who will reveal all truth and let me tell you, He will do that!
Praying parents can testify right about here, yes?
When your teen thinks they are being sly or when they are not quite telling the whole story... God will rat them out in His perfect timing because He is so for them and He is in control! Even when they don't want Him to be... or when you can't see that it is true, He is actively working in front of and behind the scenes to bring about the best. He has plans for you... for your kids... for your family... and they are good. They are all good!
3. Hold On Loosely. Ah yes... this. The Art of Letting Go... it's so important in these teen years! For us, we parented pretty hands on and bossy when our Girlie was little. But as she grew, we slowly loosened the reigns and gave her more opportunities to make her own choices and to pay the consequences. Even if we saw ahead of time how it would work out... as long as it didn't put her in danger, we decided it would be a learning experience and if she failed, at least she would fail in a safe place, with a covering over her to protect her.
I think in our society, we tend to expect a LOT from our kids without really giving them the freedom to fail. We want them to shine and be the best and constantly make the right choices and always succeed --but who can live up to that?
Not me, that is for sure!
And not you either, if we're being honest!
The truth is these little humans that are growing up (too quickly) before our very eyes, are just that: Humans!
They will fail. They will make wrong choices. They will let you down... and themselves down. They will wish they would have done things differently, or not said something out loud, or taken a different road.
Our job truly is to lead them to Him... to hold them loosely, with open hands and open hearts, trusting them in the nail pierced hands and loving heart of our Savior and Father.
To give them roots and to give them wings and to speak into their true, unique, God-given identity... and then to step back and marvel at the amazing humans that they are becoming!
We can do this, my friends!
We can raise Tinies to be Littles and Littles to be Not So Littles and Teenagers to be Adults that we would actually want to have as friends!
I can attest to you that this can be done!
And through every season, we get to be the ones who love them --always; who speak life and shine on and point them to the One who loves them best and who has a plan and a purpose that is created just for them!
Let's decide here and now to encourage them, to lift them up in prayer and to release them into His capable hands.
For when we are busy doing that, we will gracefully transition into putting into practice the Art of Letting Go! We will move towards having adult children who actually WANT to come home and hang out with us --sometimes, maybe even on a Friday night!
Today is Day Thirteen of 31 Days of Life Happens...and so We Pray! If you missed the kick-off and official 'Home page' for this series, you can go HERE and catch up! You will find links for each days' postings, added daily throughout the month. If you'd prefer to have them delivered right to you, I invite you to enter your email address to the right ('Subscribe Here') and subscribe to the blog. That way, once a week, each post is delivered to your inbox in a single email over the weekend and you'll be sure not to miss a thing!