Being a parent, especially of teenagers, is like driving blind. There is no set path or fail safe plan that will allow you to make sure your kids arrive at adulthood alive, successful or even happy. We can’t even rely on our own experiences. Why? Because our children are not us. As much as they may resemble us in looks or quirks, they are unique individuals who have their own will, their own talents and struggles, and ultimately their own future. To top it off, the world in which we grew up has changed dramatically. Not just it’s morality, but it’s very functioning. How can we possibly steer the ship of our children’s lives through these murky waters? Tonight, my heart is heavy and weary from trying to carry that burden and seeing how much I am failing.
Nine kids will mean nine completely different futures. The struggles and successes of each child will be singular to each one. For us parents, it’s a daunting job to discern what is best for that child, especially the one who at this moment is floundering. Should we keep pressing on doing what we are doing or should we abandon the present course in search for new waters?
What do I want for my kids, ultimately? I want them happy. As a person of faith, I believe that their faith in God and the pursuit of His will is crucial to their happiness. Therefore, I must continue to gently lead them into trusting God through their struggles. I can live that in front of them during my own struggles as well. But I must also teach them to understand that God himself wants them happy. I don’t mean childishly happy. I mean fulfilled and content in the whole of their lives. He will often lead them by their desire, those deep down desires. Not the desires of the flesh which can lead them into ruin, but the longings deep in the pit of their being. The skill of discerning that is a life long pursuit.
Basically, tonight I saw my teenage daughter cry a cry of despair, out of a feeling of severe defeat and frustration. She is miserable. What do I do to help her in her pain? Should we just continue in the same state hoping it will improve or should we make some big changes? Why do we think that the same ole conventional way of doing things is the only right or safe way? Sometimes we need to be brave for our kids and change things up for them. We must buck convention if it’s not benefiting them. The real questions for us this evening are, “What do I do with a child who obviously is not fitting into traditional schooling? Is college necessary for every child? What will she do with her life if the “normal” plan does not work out?” Sure, I hold lots of opinions on these issues. I have discussed them at length with friends. But it’s an entirely different beast when it’s your own daughter who feels beaten down, stupid, and lost. The heart can muddy the mind at moments such as these.
Tonight, this rambling mess will find no quick solution. We parents need to discuss amongst ourselves. She needs to pray and process. Real options need to be investigated. But there is one truth I am certain of amidst the uncertainty. Whatever that future may be, it will be perfect for my girl. It will be something that she is satisfied with and content in living. Because, despite the many shortcoming I have as a mom, I do know how to teach my kids to dream. I will push them towards living a full life without regret. And I WILL be there to support them through it all.