Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Call it a rant, tirade, PSA, whatever. I have something to say, and I think a good amount of folks may benefit from hearing it.

This goes out to all the parents (specifically of teen-ish age) out there. Oh, and also to the children of the parents to whom this applies.

[[ disclaimer: I love my parents very much and know they did their best. I also know that we all fall short (which I forgive them for, as I also fall short!). This was absolutely not written to highlight their shortcomings but rather to remind parents of the simple things they tend to forget when wrapped up in parenting ]]

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Some of you parents (well maybe most of you) did stupid things you regret before you were married with kids.

Because of these things regretful actions, you decide you want to raise your kids to hopefully not make the same mistakes that you did. 

So you instill in them from a young age values such as honesty, integrity, work ethic, trust, loyalty, ect.

You watch them grow into a honest, loyal, hardworking, trustworthy person of great integrity. 

Oh wait a second, you actually don't. You have such a hard time seeing that because you are still so caught up in seeing yourself at their age and all the mistakes they could ever possibly make, many of which you did.

Or you're so overwhelmed by how much more evil the world is now than it was "in your day" (which was likely less than 20yrs prior) that you worry they can't help but give into alllll the temptation.

You can't see that they want to be a good person. 

You can't see that they actually might want to not make the same mistakes you did. 

You can't see that they are constantly beating themselves up because they're unsure they are making the right decision (ah! I might make the wrong choice and make a mistake! my parents won't love me if I do!).

You can't see how much they are trying to EARN your love by making good choices.

...All the while you know that your son or daughter could never earn your love. 

They stole your heart when they were born.

Why not choose to show them that?

Realize that they will make mistakes (and when they do you will still love them). 

Oh, and I'm sure right about now you're saying, "But Joanna, you've never been a parent. You just don't know how it is. It's not that simple."

No. You're right. I've not yet been a parent.

But at one point I was an honest, loyal, hardworking teen who was trying desperately to earn her parent's trust (and wrongly thought that was the only way to prove to them that I loved them and thus they would return the love).

I know what it's like to wonder why your parents don't trust you when they raised you to be trustworthy (see disclaimer if you missed it). 

It's not healthy.

Why? Your son or daughter will feel that the relationship is devoid of trust on your end. Knowing this, it may encourage them to make poor decisions. Now, it is wise to note that some parents are extremely trusting of their children and the child can also sense this and know that they can get away with nearly everything. Obviously there are extremes... so try and walk the line. 

So what is that healthy line?

Well, since I'm not yet a parent I definitely do not know the ins and outs of that.

But here's a start...

If you're a praying person - pray for your child daily. Realize that God is the best parent.

Go watch Finding Nemo. Not even kidding. So many great lessons on boundaries.

Try to not think of the "what if's" as much as you do.

Tell them what you enjoy about them ("I love hearing how you play piano"... "I love seeing how fixing a computer puts a spark in your eye"). Granted, this is probably easier to start at a younger age so it doesn't seem trite... but seriously positive reinforcement goes such a long way.

Stop worrying so much about them hanging out with the opposite gender (unless they randomly met them on the internet and must marry them upon meeting them for the first time, okay... yeah probably should be wary). 

Stop thinking they're dead when they're half an hour late.

If you want them to do things with you that you enjoy, you better be willing to first do the same for them.

Stop saying, "if you'd only..." and/or giving ultimatums (unless it's a life/death issue which is abnormal). Pretty straightforward.

Stop telling them how they did all their chores/tasks wrong every time you see a slight error.

I'm not saying "be a parent without rules or boundaries!"

Nah. That's silly.

Set healthy boundaries. Ask your child what they think of said boundaries.

If you never have their input and it's always your way or the highway, they are going to have a hard time coming up with healthy boundaries for themselves when you're no longer in the picture.

Remind yourself of the true end goal of parenting: raising a human being who knows they are loved and how to love others.

Sons and daughters - do not be dismayed! I have words for you as well!

First of which is... do not be dismayed!! hahaha

Know that your parents love you. Always have and always will. 

Know that they're pretty much taking out their lack of trust of themselves on you (yeah it sucks).

Know that I've heard these words uttered from a parent to child, "I trust you, but I don't trust Satan inside you." Know that if you claim to be a follower of Christ those words are lies because, "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).

Know that one day you'll be out of their house living a great life and they will likely be wishing these days back to show their love and trust of you.

Know that even when you don't feel like it, it's wise to honor them. That doesn't mean you'll always like it.

Know that you should never give up in proving yourself trustworthy, honest, loyal, and intelligent! It is a noble quest.

To both parties: 
Try to see the best in one another. Try.
"Authority without love leads to authority being despised, and love without authority makes love unintelligible." -David Prince, Why Christian parents should not want good, happy, safe kids ... do read this article, please!

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