On Saturday, Anson, our firstborn, turned sixteen. Why is it that some birthdays hit with more impact than others. For those of you who have children that have already hit this milestone, you know that it strikes a little fear in your heart, because you know that child is about to drive away on his own. EEEEK!
But I trust this boy. He's not perfect (though neither is his mama!!!), but he is growing into a man that I like and even admire. It's a matter of course that I love my own children, but liking them is a whole other thing. I'd choose to spend time with Anson even if he wasn't my own. He's one Jesus loving, horn playing, soccer ball dribbling guy.
Monday, February 22, 2010
This picture cracks me up, because Anson is usually very low key and not excitable (unlike his mama!). I love it when he gets excited and emotions overflow.
I've been reflecting on how we got to this place with a teenager that we like. For those of you with younger children, I want to share some lessons that we've learned along the way. I have to issue a disclaimer, though. I am sharing these lessons with great fear and trembling. I don't think I've ever written or spoken on parenting, because we're not finished with this parenting journey yet. We've got 7 more years of teenager-dom ahead of us, so please pray for the boys, Barry and me! These are truths that God has shown me along the way rather than my own brilliant parenting tips.
Lesson 1: God loves my children even more than I do.
Nobody warned me about the hormone surge post-delivery. How come everybody automatically switches from talking your body during pregnancy to solely the baby's body post-pregnancy? I was woefully ignorant about the challenges my body would face after that little baby was out in the world.
One of the alarming things that I experienced was terrible nightmares during the first couple of weeks after we brought Anson home. I would wake up absolutely terrified. Later I read that this is a common side-effect of the post-pregnancy hormone surge.
One night I woke up standing beside Anson's crib. I had been dreaming that my sweet baby had been killed and that there was blood dripping down the walls. Needless to say, I was terrified and sobbing hysterically.
I stumbled back to bed where I laid wide-eyed and shaking. Suddenly, God's still small voice broke through my fear. "I love him even more than you do, Amy." An incredible peace washed over me as I realized that God's stake in this little life was even greater than my own.
That scene has played over and over again through our years of parenting. When I begin to fear for my children, God reminds me that he loves them more. There is nothing that I would do for them that He wouldn't out-do. This lesson has been so valuable and has allowed me to overcome my fears about failure in parenting and given me an "open-handed" approach that keeps me from my tendency to over-control and micro-manage.
Lesson 2: Pray that your children are saved at an early age.
Both of our children were saved as preschoolers, and I'm eternally grateful. Again, I want to stress that this was not by virtue of superior parenting. Salvation is the gift of God and happens in His timing.
I was actually concerned that my boys couldn't have a real understanding of salvation at four years old. I even went to talk to one of my pastors about it. He said something so comforting, "Amy, if you have taught your children about Jesus from the day that they are born, salvation should be the natural step that they take as soon as they can understand that they are sinners."
Wow! Isn't that great? I encourage those of you with little ones to read Bible stories, sing songs, pray and talk about Jesus. Weave it into every moment so that your child will turn to the Savior as soon as they understand that they need Him.
More than any parenting technique that I could extol, I want to praise the power of the Holy Spirit! Think about the list of fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Are those all things we'd like to instill in our children?
God accomplishes so much more in our redeemed children than we could ever dream.
I have watched in wonder as conflicting emotions have flashed across my big 'ole boy's face when I ask him to do something he doesn't like. Nine times out of ten he obeys and a final look of submission settles on his countenance. Friends, that's not something I can teach. That's the gift of self-control from the Holy Spirit. I'm so thankful that God is doing a greater work in Anson's life than I was allowing Him to do in my life at 16!
Lesson 3: Discipline, discipline, discipline
I want to give God all the credit, but I don't want you to think that Barry and I are completely passive in this process. I heard a quote from John Rosemond (who I highly recommend if you are looking for parenting resources) years ago. He said, "Children are like credit cards. You can pay now, or you can pay later with interest. But you ARE going to pay."
So true! For my sweet friends with little ones, my best advice is that you have to win the war early. Those precious babies with their sin nature...they want to rule you, but you can't let them. If you want to enjoy your teenagers, establish yourself as the authority in your home when your children are toddlers. The war is much nastier when they're older.
You might be offended with the idea of parenting being a war. We are not at war against our children, but we do have an enemy that wants to steal, kill and destroy our children, and his name is Satan. We have to help our children bring their sin nature under submission to God. Teaching them obedience to their parents helps them to ultimately come under submission to His divine authority.
For those of you with older children, we'd love to hear from you about lessons that you've learned on parenting along the way. I need some godly advice on teens! For those of you with toddlers, we know this is a fun and wonderful time of life but very hard. Hang in there! Your sisters are standing with you and cheering for you!!