Oh, The Power of Teenagers and Us Mommas
Last Saturday I experienced deja vu with a twist.
Jordan and Kati were visiting for the weekend from Dallas. As you might imagine, my mom-heart was singing all week long, happy beyond words that all of us would be together for the Easter weekend (Nick and Josie and Tom and I live in San Antonio). We planned a jam-packed weekend - disc golf, cooking, jazz, the final four basketball games, church, more disc golf, Easter dinner - you get the picture.
One stop on Saturday was at our church's monthly devotional for the youth and family ministry. Teens and their families hold a special place in our hearts and all of us serve to some degree in this ministry. It was a bit surreal for Tom and I to be there, listening to our guest speaker surrounded by our adult kids and their spouses. It seems like yesterday that we spent every Friday evening with a group of parents trying to keep each other calm as we rode the ups and downs of our teenage parenting adventures.
Back to Saturday, though...
In the middle of his lesson, the speaker made a comment to the teens that has stuck with me all week. It went something like this: "You have power. You have the power to make the time you spend with your family great and fun. And you have the power to make it miserable."
Isn't that the truth? Teens have power. Some of us experienced teen emotions so strong that we did most anything to make them happy when they got into a funk. Cookies, anyone? Pizza night? Movie? iPhone?
(I know, I know - parents aren't supposed to let themselves be manipulated. If you never gave into one of those funks, I applaud your strength and will send every parent who seeks advice from me your way!)
Do you know the saying "if momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy?"
I don't know about you, but I think teen power and momma power are big-time rivals.
Which brings me to the reason the speaker's comment stayed with me. Now that I am the mother of adult children, I have to admit it. Sometimes I'm tempted to pull a teenager move.
We have power, moms of adult children!
We have power to support and hold up our kids through difficult times. We have power to grant them the space they need to learn and grow. We have power to be the safety net that catches them when life gets hard and they are about to hit that concrete wall of adulthood.
We also have the power to crush them under the weight of our opinions and we-know-best attitudes.
I often reflect on something a mom several years ahead of me on this journey said. "I don't often give my opinion. How can I know if my truth is THE truth?"
I don't know about you, but I have an opinion about most everything. Strong opinions. (Unless you ask me where I want to eat - then I'm usually not sure.) I am entitled to my opinions.
You are entitled to your opinions.
But here's the thing. Our children are also entitled to have THEIR. OWN. OPINIONS.
If we choose, we can attempt to trump their opinions in the name of being wiser and more mature. Sometimes we might be right. But most of the time, experience has taught me that my opinion is just that - an opinion.
One option out of many that could work out well.
Whether it is from fear, a desire to maintain control or just hurting when they suffer, sometimes we hold on too tight to our growing up and grown up children. I wonder if God looks down on us, whispering
"it's OK. they'll be fine. I've got this from here. they will learn. they will grow. they will become strong. just like you - by making mistakes and by having victories and by learning they can stand on their own two feet - just like you."
It's more than opinions. Our kids have the right to make their own decisions. Decisions about jobs. Decisions about school. Decisions about friends. Decisions about their faith. Decisions about how to dress, what color their house is and how clean they decide to keep their home.
Decisions about how to raise their children and how to discipline those children, how to train them, what to feed them and when to give them solid food. Decisions about when to let their kids date and if they should go to public school or be home-schooled.
God gave them that right, just like he gave it to you and me.
Yes, they will have to live with the results of their decisions. Just like you and me.
Over and over when our grown children were college age, I had to decide what was most important - control or connection? If I tried to control our kids they pulled away. When I sought connection it drew them nearer.
Connection requires my listening to them. Connection requires me supporting their ideas and not inserting mine too loudly. Connection means it doesn't matter if their bathroom is clean when I visit. Connection means more encouragement and less direction-giving.
Our God loves connection. He craves it. He works hard at it. Look at this verse I re-discovered a few days ago.
"All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him."
(2 Samuel 14:14) This paints a beautiful picture. God devises ways to bring us back to him.
Instead of being manipulative (momma power!), I want to be creative and devise ways to connect to my grown children. I want to meet them on level ground and not try to have the upper hand. I want to let go of the emotions that sweep over me and tempt me to control their lives.
So there it is. Deja vu with a twist. A look back that made me re-examine my way forward...again.
I love to connect with my readers! Please leave a comment today, or if you prefer, contact me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a story to share, please let me know. Maybe you're like me, a momma tempted to use her power in an unhealthy way. Or maybe you have a momma that's being tempted and you want some advice. We are all on this journey together! No judgement here!