Continuing from the last “Life’s Work – Is It Working?” post, I want to explore the “norm”. What is the normal, average, Christian family unit in America today? What are the “normal” goals for families in this century? What do we, as a whole, teach our children? What should be their goal and steps into adulthood once they reach “the” age? What exactly is “the age” that kids morph into adulthood?
The answers to all these questions, unchallenged, seem to be unstated – a “given” answer that we all “just know”…
As good parents, we teach them wrong from right, expect them to behave, give them vision for a future, an education to see them through, and it all has to be done by the time they’re 18! (?)
We think that the “magic number” of 18 is when they should all understand and accept the maturity and responsibilities of adulthood. Once they graduate high school, the world makes the big proclamation….
…Da Ta Da Daaaaaaaaaa!….
You Are An Adult NOW!!!!
Then, we send them off and expect them to suddenly do the things “adults” do?
They “suddenly” get up on time, clean their room, read their bible, go to college, make good grades, discern between good and bad teaching, flee from wrongful relationships, set goals, get a job, pay taxes, marriage, family, go to church, come back to see us occasionally, and be an overall good citizen.
Huh? Is someone talking about TODAY’s kids?
Even in the best of Christian homes, there seems to be such the opposite.
Not just your “normal” mistakes or maturity issues, but the recent high school graduates that I know are failing. Failing to recognize that their family is still an important part of life after high school. Failing to see that there are more pressing and important things than immediate independence. Failing to notice that good, healthy relationships are not ones that are found on social networking websites. Failing to appropriate time to God on a regular basis. Falling into thinking that a state-of-the-art cell phone with unlimited texting and data packages is a necessity.
Christian parents all over the world are raising children who end up graduating high school with such little personal maturity that they end up crashing during their first semester of college.
Colleges all over the world, whether they want to admit it or not, also contribute to the bombardment of failure these kids experience by choosing to ignore their need for continual direction and guidance as they adjust to life after high school.
We all assume that the “kids” are now “adults”. We all assume that they are ready for such responsibility and we have to cut strings in order to let them make their own decisions. Rise or fall, they will learn from it, and become the great leaders this world will need for the next generation, right?
While I will certainly not begin to say that I have all the answers, personal events in the last few years have led me to some parts of the conclusion equation.
One part is that even when we raise our children with all sorts of head knowledge, there is a greater need for heart knowledge. This is a big piece of “education” that we are all failing at miserably.
All of our lessons, our lectures, our admonition during the first eighteen years of their life reaches a point where it must be practically applied in the world in order to amount to anything.
We cannot expect them to “know” it all without applying it in their daily life.
We tell them, “respect others”, “be responsible”, “live right”, “seek God”, but fail terribly at purposefully finding opportunities for them to practice doing that while they are still under our roof.
When we fall into the thinking that we have to go along with certain “normal” teenage issues, we begin to shy away from active involvement in our teenager’s lives. We want to be the “cool” Mom or Dad, or we shrug our shoulders and accept that our sons and daughters don’t want us to hug them in public, or hang out with their friends.
As if in some ignorant state, we say, “they’re teenagers…they don’t want us parents hanging around”. So we back away, leaving our children to face the world alone.
As they continue the “morph” into young adult years, we convince ourselves that we have to let go. So we, once again, back away and allow them to face the world alone.
Now I’m not saying that we should still control every aspect of their life, but it seems to me that they still need some direction and guidance from the ones who love them most. Even when they think they are ready to be on their own, many times they find just the opposite. Only then, it is at a high cost or perhaps too late for them to abruptly turn back toward home.
What I have learned so far is that parents of young adults just finishing their high school years need to be more involved in their life than ever before.
Allow them freedom to make choices, but gently guide the direction of their decision, and still do whatever it takes to help them choose the appropriate steps down life’s road.
It is a rare young adult who can successfully face the world alone.
Which leads me to the next post of the series…