"Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart" -Col. 3:21
In the Ozarks, we're in that strange time of year when we're caught in between hot and cold. Up and down. Up and down. It seems like just a few weeks ago, we were blazing under the summer sun and today we're digging out gloves and wool caps for winter. It's that "in between" time. Being a teenager is an in between time too. One day teens are comfortable in their dependence and relationship with family; the next day they are uncomfortable as they're seeking independence and separation from family.
Adolescence (from Latin: adolescere meaning "to grow up") is a transitional stage of physical and psychological human development generally occurring between puberty and legal adulthood (age of majority). The period of adolescence is most closely associated with the teenage years, although its physical, psychological and cultural expressions can begin earlier and end later.
Certainly, dependence and independence aim in different directions. Our kids are born 100% dependent and the progression of independence begins from day one. If you're not convinced, go stare through the glass at your local hospital maternity ward. Those babies are 100% dependent on the nurses in the room. And they're fine with that arrangement…for a while.
Now, go help in the nursery at your church this Sunday. And I don't mean at the registration desk. I'm talking back in the actual "trenches" where the kids are being…kids. The progression from dependence to independence starts its evolution. The temperature begins to fluctuate.
Yes, the kids want you to serve them their snack (dependence) but they want it served in a particular way (independence). Yes, the kids like the toys you're giving them (dependence) but they want the toys the other kids are playing with too (independence).
So, what's a parent to do? Navigate slowly. Seek God's discernment. Be willing to let go. Letting our kids experience independence is not easy. It requires risk and for most conscientious parents, control is a huge issue.
We figure that lack of risk is good for our kids. We need to protect them at all costs. Not true. They do need our protection as they depend on us but their independence needs to be reinforced as well. Rebellion does not equal independence. But lack of space to be independent can produce rebellion in our kids.
We need to be the Godly, loving parents that the Lord equipped us to be with our kids but also need to be willing to let go and let them learn who they are, independent from mom and dad.
Let them fly on their own…. whether it's hot or cold.
By Eric Joseph Staples ©
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