This is the summer before our oldest children start seventh grade. This means, I was startled to realize, that they are two-thirds of the way to 18--and halfway through their formal pre-college schooling (okay, I know you know I started formal schooling with them early because I was eager, but these days I don't count kindergarten as "formal.") Their elementary years are past and they are on to upper school.
Our son Lane will soon be ten, but for now he's halfway to 18 and half-way through elementary school.
Tobias is just getting started.
And Lydia? Well, I've got a lot of milestones yet to mark. I've had 12 years of mothering children under 12 and by God's grace I'll have 18 years of mothering teens.
It seems like a big deal that our oldest are moving into their adolescence. When I left the hospital twelve years ago with a baby in each arm, I was brimming with confidence. These days I know that I'm not at all up to the task of being a godly mother!
I'm reading Paul Tripp's Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens in search of some biblical wisdom to help me in the next eighteen years of mothering.
"The tumult of the teen years is not only about the attitudes and actions of teens, but the thoughts, desires, attitudes, and actions of parents as well. The teen years are hard for us because they tend to bring out the worst in us...These years are hard for us because they expose the wrong thoughts and desires of our own hearts. (p. 17)
"However, it is my experience that when parents begin to recognize, own, confess, and turn from their own wrong heart attitudes and the wrong actions that flow from them, the result is a marked difference in their relationship to their teen and in the way they view the struggles of the teen years. When we look with concerned eyes toward the teen years, we need to look not only at our children, but also at ourselves. Parents who are humbly willing to change, position themselves to be God's instruments of change." (p. 18-19)Tripp identifies several idols that parents tend to worship that keep them from godly parenting, particularly in the teen years. One of these idols is control.
"In the early years of parenting, we were in control of everything, and although we complained about the stress of it all, we liked having the power! There is a little that an infant chooses to do, other than spontaneous bodily functions. We chose their food, times of rest, manner of physical exercise, what they saw and heard, where they went, who their friends were, and the list could go on and on..." (p. 37)I'm intentionally and purposefully trying to let go of some of my control over my older kids, but Tripp is correct--the idol of control creeps up on you. In fact, you may not believe this is really an idol for you until you feel the control that you once held slipping through your fingers. It was all an illusion anyway, so the sooner I surrender that control to Jesus, the better. The sovereign God, the Lord of lords, is the only One in control and who could be a better keeper of my children?
May God give me the wisdom to see my own wrong heart attitudes and wrong actions, the grace to have a repentant heart, and the mercy of forgiveness as I embark on the next season of mothering.