“If I’d Only Known…” #3
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck. – Proverbs 1:8-9
I think back to my time as a teenager, and it probably was not that different from any other teen’s experiences today. I’m learning things, doing more things, being given more responsibility, trying to figure out who I am going to be, working on being my own person, but in the middle of all of that there is a problem. I still have people telling me what to do, my actions are questioned, and advice I might not want to hear is being thrust upon me. Any teens reading this? Am I remembering right? I thought so.
It is a time of life that inherently involves struggle. Some people say it is the “time for rebellion”, but I think that is an excuse for not addressing the issues properly. The point of parenting is to get your kids to think and do for themselves so you don’t have to think and do for them. Equip them for the world they will face so you will not need to keep doing it. The thing is, in the midst of the process of creating people who think for themselves, a problem arises – THEY THINK FOR THEMSELVES!
There were struggles in my teen years as I watched my parents seemingly losing touch with the reality of life and how it should be handled by one such as myself. I did not think they were losing their minds, but they did seem to be refusing to grow as I was, and it was just making it more difficult for us to connect. I didn’t think they were hearing me, and many times they spoke in dialects that confused my ears as well.
There were times we connected on things and I was able to understand what they were saying, but there were many times that I took what I considered to be the best path because their words just made no sense to me. I heard them, I remembered them, but I didn’t understand them. I just filed them away in hopes that one day they might make sense.
Well, one day it happened. There is an amazing thing that happens in the life of a man. Around the age of 23-25, his parents miraculously become smarter! Their advice can once more be trusted and sought out as valid for application in life! I know it sounds odd that two people who have had such a slide in mental faculties throughout their child’s teenage years can once again be trusted as being a resource for wisdom, but it is true!
The reality, of course, is that all of the things they taught me through those “hard years” just finally started to make sense in my head. All of those platitudes of wisdom now had weight and meaning and were beginning to serve as the building blocks of how I would live my life. I now understood the dialect and could understand not only the meanings of the words, but also the heart that had been behind them. The result was that the same phrases that caused such frustration were now comforting to me, and served me as guides in different situations.
I am now the father of two of those “teenage” beings. I see the look of confusion in their faces sometimes as I speak to them, and I know that they are experiencing the same thing I did when I was their age. I see their frustration with me, and I know I feel it at times as well. I recognize it is part of the process. They are great kids, and I am very thankful of them. They have made the hard job of parenting easier than I deserve.
I find myself saying some of the same things my parents said to me “back in the day.” Those bits of wisdom, those phrases, those pieces of instruction are a part of who I am now. They have shaped my foundation for living. Relentless Living means I cannot consider myself complete because of them though. There is more to do, and my relationship with God is necessary for that to happen. I want to give my kids even more to help them as they grow.
My hope is that one day (by my calculations it will be in around 7-9 years) they will come to the same conclusion that I came to with my parents. I was loved enough to be watched and instructed. My prayer is that they will understand that and that they will remember what they learned and go on to do all the bigger and better things they hope to accomplish. Then one day they can say,
“It’s like my Dad used to say…”