My sons and I are enjoying summer. My oldest has his learners permit and although he has driven a good bit with his dad, including on the interstate, his dad has an automatic transmission and I don't! I thought I was going to put holes in the floor boards on the passenger side last night, I was pushing against them so hard! And that's when he was practicing in the neighborhood, going from stop sign to stop sign. Oh, boy! Today the boys went to the movies with my sister-in-law and her kids, and planned to go swimming afterwards, but they were rained out. So instead they played indoor games.
It's sometimes difficult to balance freedoms and privileges with responsibilities, but I have to remember that freedoms and privileges are part of responsibilities. I try to give my kids freedoms, but with reasonable limits. Such as: you can go to your friends house, or to the ball park, etc., but you need to call me first -- so I will know where you are.
I remember when I was growing up. I am the oldest of six kids, the youngest is ten years younger than me. Both of my parents worked outside the home, so from the time I was thirteen on it was my responsibility to take care of the younger kids. I also took care of the laundry and making sure we had dinner on the table every night. I wanted a horse so bad during that time. So my parents offered to pay me for taking care of the younger kids, doing the laundry and dinner. It was an awesome experience to take that money and buy my first horse when I was fifteen! The thrill and responsibility of making that purchase, and then of taking care of the horse, buying it's supplies myself --wow!
And then when it came time to ride my horse, my brother and I were sometimes driven out to BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land with one of his friends (we were 15, 13 and 13). We were dropped off in the morning, and told to follow the railroad tracks back into town. Off we would go, just the three of us. All alone. On horses. No cell phones. No one for miles around. We were completely responsible for ourselves. Thinking back on it now, I wonder what would have happened if one of us had an accident. We were allowed these privileges because we were trustworthy and responsible, but I imagine our parents also worried about us while we were gone.
Sometimes it's tough to be a parent. It's hard sometimes to know how to raise your kids. The Bible is full of wisdom regarding raising kids, and also on how kids are supposed to respond to their parents. "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). Isn't it wonderful that God says He will honor our Godly training of our children? We have to be careful though. Sometimes kids don't turn out the way we think they should, even if we have done everything according to God's plan. We have to trust God to do the rest.
Other times we have to discipline our kids. The Bible says that "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24). I know our kids don't believe that, but it's true! Who is going to discipline someone they don't care about?
Kids are also given responsibilities in the Bible. Paul said in Ephesians 6:1-3, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth." Do you see God's promise to the kids if they do what He asks?
Look a little further, in verse 4. Parents are also given responsibility and directions. Paul says, "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Don't provoke your children to anger or wrath. Sometimes that can be done unintentionally, but sometimes it's done on purpose. How does the child, especially a teenager, react when we provoke them? It's not pretty, I can guarantee that!
This day and age, we Christian parents need all the help we can get. We need to remember to use all our resources, including the Bible, church, family, friends, and other outside sources. We need to never be afraid to ask for help. And if help is refused, find someone else! After all, our kids (and their kids) futures are at stake!
Many prayers on your wild ride of parenthood!
Here are a few parenting sites I have found helpful:
Focus on the Family