My children will tell you that I don’t have all this down yet. I want to control things and often speak too quickly or intervene when I should let them work something out. I’m not saying that I should no longer offer advice or even instruction, but I am learning that there are some things that they might learn better on their own.
I have a particularly interesting challenge in being both mother and teacher to my teenagers. I see their interactions with their friends at school, their misunderstandings, their hurts and I often want to jump in and solve their problems. I wish I could, but I can’t always fix it. And what high school boy wants his mommy to intervene in all of his interactions? Would that boy ever learn to become a man if he was always protected from painful interactions and constantly instructed in how to handle each situation?
As a math teacher, I know that students learn better if they are given opportunities to solve problems on their own without the teacher always jumping in. It is important to give students tools and skills, but they also need to learn to be able to work through problems, developing perseverance and independence. Sometimes that is a challenge for me as I see a student struggling. I want them to get the answer, but I know that it is more important for them to learn to do it on their own. When they ask questions I try to guide and advise. I often want to just grab the pencil and do it for them, which I sometimes do, but I know that it is usually better for me to just provide a small amount of assistance as they ask along the way. When I grab the pencil, it is often a lack of patience on my part. When I offer my kids too much unasked for advice or direction, it might be that same lack of patience.
In math class, I sometimes choose not to answer questions because of how it will benefit my students. In parenting, I am learning to trust that God is working for good in my children’s lives through their struggles, and it isn’t always my job to step in the middle of that. I want God to develop perseverance and endurance in their lives and I want them to become mature. The hard part is that these things usually come through trials. It is one thing to experience personal trials, but it requires another level of faith to trust God when those we love are struggling. God is stretching and growing me as I am learning to trust that He is good and is working for good in the lives of my children, even when I see them struggle.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 NIV
I have seen the good work God has begun in their lives and I am trusting “that he who began a good work in (them) will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 1:6 NIV) While I am sure I will still sometimes speak out of fear and a desire to fix things that are not mine to fix, I want to learn to walk with my teenagers in faith, trusting that God has them in His very capable hands and is faithfully at work in their lives.
Here are our oldest two looking way too grown up as they go to our school Spring Formal. We were there as teacher/chaperones.