Monday, November 16, 2009


There are times in our lives when we know exactly what we want to do. We see a neon sign whose message instructs or inspires us, and we head confidently out to conquer the world. We may eventually find out that we are totally wrong...but at least we had a clear vision of the path. I liken this to times when we were so sure that we just had to have the designer jeans at whatever price...until we realized that no matter how much we wanted to live in denial...we just weren't going to look like Brooke Shields or Kate Moss (pick your generational icon) in them. That's called "learning the hard way" that things don't always work out the way we want them to work out...and we suck it up and move on...broke but wiser.

But there are other times when we are just truly clueless and we are standing there completely baffled. It may be that we are too afraid to decide for fear that our decision will bring extra expense or effort that we may or may not be prepared to handle. Or it may be that we have two equally attractive but mutually exclusive choices to make. Perhaps it doesn't all depend on us...and so we wait to see how everything is going to turn out before we charge off in one direction or another.

It is generally at this point that we begin to seek advice. We may have prayed about it...weighed the alternatives...and perhaps even divided a sheet of paper down the middle and written "pros" on one side and "cons" on the other. And yet we are still baffled.

And so we dial the phone...we visit our friend...we get on e-mail. We sit our spouse down or make an appointment at Starbucks with Mom or Dad. It is at this point when we are open to and sometimes just short of begging for...advice.

Most of us have been asked our opinion on something from people that we love. If we have young children in our lives...we have no doubt been asked hundreds of time what we think about pictures drawn, outfits chosen, or even new music. Our little people see us as strong and intelligent...and rarely wrong.

And then they turn into teenagers...which means that overnight we turn into less intelligent, hopelessly outdated, or just plain wrong. Some of the time anyway!

The most difficult part of parenting, though, is knowing when to give advice. Sometimes it is hard to know when our "two cents worth" is worth two cents...and when it is worth its weight in gold. I have also found that it is extremely difficult to know which it is at any given point in time.

We have the benefit of seeing patterns in life. Of knowing the signs of trouble...seeing the patterns of potential. We watch them struggle with choices and we know almost instinctively which way will be the best way for them to travel. Yet, sometimes, we are wrong. We believe that one direction is better than another, and when we see them headed off in the one not of our choosing...we don't exactly know what to do.

And so we dial the phone...we visit our friend...we get on e-mail. We sit our spouse down or make an appointment at Starbucks with Mom or Dad. It is at this point when we are open to and sometimes just short of begging for...advice.

Scary, isn't it?

At some point...we have to just trust that it will all work out the way that it should. Short of stopping them from doing permanent damage or allowing them to head down a dangerous path...we at some point just have to trust that we have taught them well...and that God is in control.

I don't want to rob my children of the opportunity of making their own mistakes. Big mistakes? No. But little ones that teach them the value of planning properly, preparation, and being sure to guard their heart...absolutely. It is those lessons that give them the foundation of wisdom...and also give them the confidence in themselves to achieve more than they believe they can.

So, my advice to those who have teenagers? Stay involved but in the background. Speak your mind, but allow them to do the same. Give them space, but show them the value of boundaries.

I know that I've hovered in a couple of areas as I've watched my children grow to maturity. As their mother, I knew what they were and were not ready to handle. But the older they get...the more I realize that my role is more to be an active observer and less of an active participant in their lives. I'm basically sitting on the bench looking for an opportunity to get in the game. But if I do a lot more bench sitting than I do running these days...that's all part of the plan.

So, if you are stressing out...relax. Breathe. Expect the best. Even if we are given a free class at the school of hard will eventually all be for our good. That's my advice to you for the day. Pass it back to me sometime if I need it...will you?

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