For the last couple of years I’ve done a workshop for our homeschool support group on preparing your child to launch. The parents who attend have kids in high school, and the most common topic has not been how to get kids into college. It’s been about issues of parental authority with young adults at home.
If you constantly recite the “My house, my rules!” lecture to your 18 year old, that horse has probably left the corral and is roaming the plains of Montana.
This is a sensitive topic, and parents in my Preparing to Launch Workshop expect me to give them long, complex answers to their questions, with a “How To” checklist. However, in one form or another, my answer is almost always “Communication.”
In spite of the fact that most of us enjoy a vast array of modern conveniences, it feels like we are busier than ever. Our lives are full or work and church and school and chores, all of which are important and necessary. Our kids are busy as well, attending school and Sunday School to receive academic and spiritual instruction, and most play sports or participate in other extra-curricular activities.
Over time, we may find ourselves delegating more and more parental responsibility to schools, churches, health care professionals, counselors, psychiatrists—and since we place quite a bit of faith in specialists and experts, we may forget just how much our children need us in their lives.
It’s tempting to imagine that if we just had more money, more convenience, more resources, and more time, we could do better as parents. To think we must meet our child’s physical need for food, clothing, and shelter, but to also meet their spiritual, emotional, mental, and intellectual needs—why not just admit we feel inadequate, and sometimes downright terrified!
In my experience, one of the most difficult aspects of parenting is teaching my children about sin while not discouraging them.
While our firstborn was growing up, we were in church circles that placed an emphasis on teaching children about their sin nature and the consequences of sin. Sounds biblical and reasonable, right? However, the way this played out was to treat children like they were always being deceitful, always up to something, and couldn’t be trusted. Ever. I can’t tell you how many times I heard Psalm 58:3 quoted:
The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.
This use of Scripture rubbed my husband and I the wrong way, but at the time it seemed to make sense. Kids are inherently selfish. They lie to get their way or hide their mistakes. They refuse to eat what’s on their plate, go to sleep at a decent hour, and go potty on the toilet instead of in their pants. They’re sinners, and deserve to be treated as such. Because Revelation 21:8.
Then it got worse—there was an actual file in the pastor’s office marked with every mistake, every failure, brought up again and again by teachers and the pastor whenever there was trouble involving kids in the youth group.
“The evangelical adoption movement, writes Joyce, has provided millions of new advocates for a global adoption industry ‘too often marked by ambiguous goals and dirty money, turning poor countries’ children into objects of salvation, then into objects of trade.’” Evangelicals Finding It’s a Challenging Time for Christian Adoption Movement