The other day as I was driving in the car with my son, I looked over at him and noticed that his stature and countenance are changing. He is starting to look more like a man. Or at least more like a teenager. We are about six months away from him entering his teen years, and he is rapidly beginning to look and act the part. While I haven’t really dealt (yet) with any of the attitude nightmares that many parents of teenagers deal with, I’m noticing many ways that his world view and personality are shifting as he grows older.
No longer is he my little baby boy. Most moms say “He’ll always be my baby,” but we know that that’s about the special place they hold in our hearts. We can’t keep treating them like babies. As they move in to their teenage years, an influence enters their lives that we have up until now been able to filter – the world. My son is beginning to care more about what his peers think than what I think. And he’s watching what’s around him and using it to some degree as an indicator of what’s cool, acceptable, and desirable. I can’t keep all of that influence out. Try as I may, there are just too many places for it to enter his environment.
So what’s a mom (or dad) to do? It seems with some teenagers that the harder you try to steer them in one direction, the more forcefully they push in the opposite direction. And while I won’t put all teenagers in the same group (I know many honorable, respectful teens that are making great choices with their lives), there is always the pressure to step outside of what they have been taught is right and test the waters.
So I’ve been thinking about what I’m supposed to do in this stage of his and my life. Lots of parents panic, get extremely restrictive and fearful, assume the worst of their children, and put such tight reigns on their children that the kids feel they aren’t being allowed to become themselves. I know I don’t want that. I know I’m supposed to seek counsel from other wise parents, and I have already begun that process. But I think the two most important sources for guidance are prayer and the Word. It seems that my job as a mom heading in to the coming years is to pray fervently for my son, and stay alert and watchful. While it breaks my heart to see him navigate some of the painful lessons of growing up, part of that is necessary. My parents couldn’t shelter me from all of it, and I don’t know any parent that has been able to.
One of my son’s extracurricular activities is archery. I think a lot about how just as he is learning his technique with a bow and arrow, and making his arrow hit the target, I’m doing the same thing. Figuring out what my vision, or target, for him is, and making adjustments in my heart and in my actions to give him the best shot at a bullseye. It is proving to be much more difficult than it seems (much like archery), and I am reminded who the true guide of my little arrow really is.
Psalm 127:3-4 NIV
Children are a heritage from the Lord , offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.