Happy Valentines Day,
Parenting as a role is part of an identity and as so, it becomes important as a part of who I am. Am I a good parent? How do I know? What do I constantly have to do to re-affirm my good parenting? Am I doing my part in this role and how does this role affirm who I am? My role is to know what is best for my child and make sure they get it. My role continues with my adult children, who need mothering.
Parenting as a function is doing the work of a parent. I like to say it is loosening here, tightening here, training here, encouraging and comforting over here. If it is a function, and not tied to my identity, parenting becomes a flexible response to what is needed instead of doing what someone expects. It leaves space and room for authentic relationship between the parent and child.
The relationship a parent has with a child, should always be one of honor. Children are to honor their parents, yet parents also should honor their children, recognizing the child’s right to choose. I teach my child to make choices and then trust that she will learn, just as I have, to make generally good decisions with some mistakes. My identity is neither tied up in sorting out what she should do, nor in telling her what to do. I honor the relationship, by noticing that she is a whole, complete and working human being.
For more on the topic of the parent role, check out, Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth.
I want to give you hope this morning as I reflect on the last few weeks. I have four boys ages 22-14 years old all with their own differences. Parenting adolescents can be a difficult job, while I have no experience parenting girls, I do know a thing or two about male adolescence. My 17 year old in the last few months has become extremely pleasant to be around and our relationship enjoyable.
I say this, to give us all hope, for it has been years that it has been very difficult living with him in this stage. Teenage boys go through a distinct immersion of emotional change during this time that includes anger directed towards adults, defensiveness, secrets, tension and some unexplainable non-working choices. My oldest boys went through this stage, one for a period of 4-6 months, the other for about 6-8 months.
Life circumstances such as separation, divorce, stress, difficulties at school, all create more drama and lengthen the process, it seems, of young men emerging from the boys we once knew. One of the things I think of as my youngest now goes through a very “angry at mom” phase is that he is coming into his own.
Teens are becoming brilliant and stepping into adult life; they need to carve out an identity and create meaning for themselves. The synapses of the brain are growing and changing to be able to understand abstract concepts and higher level thinking and problem solving. Adolescents are learning how to own their choices and their power to make them. When I focus on these things and I look at the wonderful young men in my life and our relationships, I can live with tolerance and understanding seeing the light at the end of the turmoil tunnel.
Being with a teen through these challenges is difficult, understanding is fleeting, patience is stretched, boundaries are crossed, emotions get heated… and underneath it all is a young, whole, capable adult is emerging in his brilliance! It is a marvel!
Happy Valentine’s Day! Today, I was reminded of a Christmas story that bears remembering on this day of love. Remember the little drummer boy? He had no gift to bring the infant king and so he felt ashamed at missing the opportunity to give… until he realized he had his drum and his gift became playing his best! He played his best song… He played it the most enthusiastically he ever played before! His gift was his best… a gift of himself. Risking rejection, he played his heart out!
What if giving our best is all that is required of us to give the best gift possible? Can you give better than that? If I know my purpose, and I am living it to my fullest, giving my best me to the world around me, is there anything of more value that I have? I think not. So many times I find myself holding back on people. I don’t say what I want to say, I am content smiling. When I enthusiastically play my best song, live my purpose and give my best, when I risk rejection and throw my heart out, I connect with others! I make a difference! And so do you!
You have something amazing in you to give to others! You have a great purpose in being here and a gift to give! You are magnificent! You are amazing! Chocolates, flowers, gifts… they are all nice, and giving yourself… That’s giving your best and will make the most difference to your sweetheart today… and to the world.
BE- your best you!