Six Benefits Of Being Schooled By Your Adult Kids
Of all the roles I have claimed in life so far, teacher is one of my favorites. It makes my heart happy to share helpful information. When I share a skill or a lesson or an idea with someone and they end up using it in their life, it makes my heart happy.
I am now an older woman. (When did that happen?) I take the direction in scripture to teach the younger women seriously. I don't always do it perfectly, as I have shared before, but I try to learn from my mistakes, grow in wisdom and keep learning on this journey we call life.
Today let’s talk about letting the younger ones teach us, letting our adult children enjoy the satisfaction of becoming our teacher. I figured out at least six benefits of allowing the student to become the teacher. Allowing and even encouraging this new dynamic holds rewards for our children and for us as well.
Scripture teaches us in Proverbs that we are smart to seek counsel in our lives.
"For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisors." Proverbs 11:14 (NIV)
"Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors, they succeed." Proverbs 15:22 (NIV)
"Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisors." Proverbs 24:6 (NIV)
Seeking counsel and advice has been a pretty consistent part of my life over the years. But when I think about it, the council and information I valued most has come from what might be best described as top-down. I might ask several people for their opinion, but those with more experience or perhaps more years in their lives get the most attention.
I think that's probably pretty normal and I think in many cases it's smart to seek counsel from experts.
But what makes an someone an expert? Age isn’t always a defining factor. For example, most everyone younger than me is more of an expert when it comes to technology. Knowledge and experience are two factors that play a role in being designated an expert at something.
When it comes to my adult kids, there is something they know well and that they have had a lot of experience in over the years. They know me and Tom. Who knows us better than our kids? Besides Tom, no one else knows the ins and outs of my character and personality as well as Nick and Kati. They have become a great resource in my life.
We might wonder if our kids can really see us as we are. I believe they have been observing us for a long time. Their young eyes and minds might not have been able to process what they saw all the time, but they saw us none the less.
One time when Nick was 4, he and I drove Tom to work. After we dropped Tom off and as we drove away, Nick's small voice floated to me from the back seat. "Mommy, why did you talk to daddy that way?" "What way, sweetie?" I responded. "You know, mommy," he said.
I did know. It had been a tense drive to work. I was short with Tom. Nick was my witness. And he knew it wasn't good. I learned from that point on to never underestimate what my kids understood about things they saw and heard.
Fast forward 26 years. Nick and Kati are adults. Married adults. Working adults. Working as campus and youth and family ministers. They are smart. I benefit a lot when I ask their opinions. Here are six of the benefits I've reaped from allowing the student (our adult kids) to become the teacher.
1. I gain a fresh perspective.
Their youth gives my adult kids a unique perspective. I don't know about you, but as I age, sometimes I find the lines get blurred, and I don't see things quite as clearly as I used to. While my life experiences have taught me to be gracious, kind, gentle and hopeful, sometimes I need the black and white view that their youth still sees. If I listen to them and watch their lives carefully, I benefit from being reminded of the things I did in my own youth - maybe the things I did in my "first love" phase of life?
2. I validate my children as adults.
A comment from a woman in her 30s has stuck with me over the years since I started researching about enjoying a happy and healthy relationship with my adult children. "I can't wait for my dad to ask for my advice about something. I've seen him ask my brother what he thinks. It will mean a lot when he asks me. I will know then that he sees me as an adult. It will validate that I have something to offer him."
We all want to be validated. We gain confidence from knowing that people we respect also respect us.
I want to offer my children the gift of validation, the gift of my respect. Our lives becomes richer by inserting that dynamic into our relationship.
3. My adult children grasp a generation that I struggle to understand, so I become wiser.
Jesus speaks across generations, and the gospel is the good news for all people and all cultures. But to be frank, I don't always get the way today's college students and teens think about life. I promised myself to never be that person who said things like "when I was your age..."
But, "when I was your age..."
I need my adult kids and your adult kids to help me understand their world. How can I train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be busy at home, etc. (Titus 2:3-5) if I don't understand their lives. Life is different today than it was when I was 25. It's different than it was when I got married and had children. I lived in Africa when my children were small and had help in our home. (That's another story for another day. Please know it was expected and played an important role in the economy.)
If I try to teach based solely on what I experienced I will miss the mark in my counsel.
4. I build happy memories.
"I'll never forget that trip," my young friend told me. "It was a long ride to our vacation spot, and my dad asked my sisters and me for advice all the way there. My mom sat back and let us ask him questions that helped him figure out a new direction God was offering to him. It was so cool. I'll never forget how humble he was."
Enough said. Who else wants to leave those kinds of memories for their children to cherish?
5. I teach my adult children to imitate Jesus.
One of the last things Jesus said to his disciples was this.
"I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." (John 15:15 NIV)
I'm not Jesus. And my kids are not my servants. There is a principle here that applies, however.
Maybe it goes something like "I no longer call you children because a child does not know his parents' business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything I have learned about God I have passed on to you and I trust you. I believe in you. I think that you have things to share with me now."
A mom told me several years ago that she didn't want to share medical information or other information about growing older with her adult children "until they were mature and ready to handle it." One one hand, I get that sentiment completely. I don't want to burden my kids unnecessarily. On the other hand, how else will they become mature and learn to handle life if I don't allow them to become privy to the challenging aspects of my life? Who is better able to equip them for aging besides me?
If I let them help me and bring them into my circle of trusted friends and confidants, I teach them how to pass that dynamic on to their children as they age later.
The transitions that often become necessary later in life will be a whole lot easier if we start practicing humility with our adult children now. The circle of life starts out so humbling, but we are too small and too new to understand the humility required of us to learn and grow. The circle often ends with us needing the help of those same babies we helped so many years before.
6. It brings freedom.
When you allow yourself the freedom to learn from everyone, you gain the love, respect, and connection with the people you hope most to influence in life. When they see that you are not done learning, you become a safe place for them to confide and a haven to hide in when life gets tough. That's something I cherish deep in my heart when it comes to my adult kids.
"A student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher." Luke 6:40 (NIV)
I'm sure there are more benefits to gain from allowing the student to become our teacher. What have you learned on your journey? What would you share to help us on this path?
More Scriptures to ponder on this topic:
"I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another." Romans 15:14 (NIV)
"Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor." Galatians 6:6
Kati worked as certified health coach before taking a job working in the full-time ministry. Here she is, teaching an eager group of older adults about the dangers of eating too much sugar.
"It is not only the old who are wise, not only the aged who understand what is right." Job 32:9 (NIV)
"Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance-" Proverbs 1:5 (NIV)