Saturday, April 10, 2010
As parents, it’s challenging to know when to step in to our teens’ lives and when to stay out. Too often, we're inclined to step into our teen’s episodes when we really should let them handle it.
Case in point: athletics. It’s Monday after practice and our freshman teen announces at dinner that, “at practice today, I started at shortstop.” Inwardly, pride builds as the picture of our son starting for the St. Louis Cardinals grows and the smile on our face expands. But that’s on the inside. Outwardly, we encourage him with a “great job son. You have a game on Friday, right”? Back to that secret conversation with ourselves, “oh my gosh…he’ll get that scholarship to college (that I never got) and then that signing bonus money with the Cardinals! This is great!” Outwardly, “well, just remember to have fun.” Inwardly, “yeah, have fun but you better catch every ball that comes your way. There may be scouts there!”
Now fast forward to the baseball game. Your son has spent the entire game sitting on the bench and you are furious. By the end of the game, he hasn't played one inning and you’re determined to call the coach the next day to find out why he “benched” your professionally talented son.
At home later you gently but sternly quiz your son, “what happened- why didn't you play?” “I don't know,” your son replies, “maybe cause the starting shortstop got well.” You asked, “so he was sick earlier in the week?” “Well, yeah…I only started ‘cause he was gone. But that’s OK- he’s better than I am.”
Your heart softens and you realize again that it’s his life, not yours. You realize that these are his “loads to bear.” If he’s to grow up and be able to handle life, then he’ll need to learn to handle life now. Paul reminds the Galatian church to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2). That word “burden” is the word bare, meaning “very heavy load.” Two verses later, Paul reminds that same church to “let each one bear his own burden.” Does Paul contradict himself? No. That word for “burden” is phorton, meaning “small load.” In other words, we help with heavy loads, but we pass on the small loads. We don't need to call coaches. We need to let our teens handle their own small issues.
But that doesn't mean we do nothing! We pray, we trust, we encourage and we are there to consult. And though we’d gladly bear their burden for them, we let them learn and grow.
Yes, help your teen through the tough times, but let them experience the trial- it’s the only way they will learn to fly on their own.©