With Shaunti on the road and the approach of a writing deadline, Vanessa Snyder, MA, LPC, LMFT, shares from her own experience as the mother of teens.
You would think I would finally have it together. I have been a mother longer than not. I have papers on my wall that tell me I am a professional; a specialist even in this arena we call family. Yet this whole parenting thing still throws me for a loop at times. I recently sent my second child off to college. My emotional position was somewhere between heartache and dull throb. She was my first girl, my mini-me. I knew I would miss her but I also knew she was going to be okay. Of course she would; did I mention she was just like me?! But it did stir memories of a time two years ago when my first born was attempting to make his launch into this brave new world and developed what I like to term, real life road rash.
Suffice it to say; the summer before college he made a colossal error in judgment. He was 18, you argue, of course he did! But it wasn’t his error in judgment that I mull over now, it was my response. The poor kid was and still is the worst liar. Of course I found out…I have seen every episode of Criminal Minds at least twice. But this error in judgment hit a little too close to home. We sat on our wide front porch as I revealed to him that I knew what he had done. I also revealed to him my vulnerability in that moment. I had acknowledged that merely the night before, I had prayed to God to release me from the responsibility of establishing a consequence for what he had done. He was 18, surely it was time for God to step into this role and I could have a reprieve. Plus, I was tired and still had three other children that I a chance to do things better with. Yet in His still small voice, I distinctly heard Him tell me, “Not yet. He still needs you”. When I shared with my precious son that I wanted to let him go and just let God deal with him, his immediate reply was, “Mom, please don’t let me go yet.” Shaunti succinctly states that our children “desperately need to see that we will be there for them no matter what”. They need that unconditional security that we have a tendency to pull away because of our own personal issues or childhood dynamic. Much like our craving for unconditional love when we blow it, our kids need to know that as parents, we are willing to sit with them in the mud and yuck of life, maintain consistent consequences, and still love them with an everlasting love.