Life’s Work – Is it Working? (Part 2)

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…



Filed under Children, Family, Family Relationships, God, Life, Parenting, Wisdom

7 responses to “Life’s Work – Is it Working? (Part 2)

  1. Am i aloud to comment on these?…

  2. Julie

    Yes, of course 🙂

  3. Julie

    um, I think?!…lol

  4. Kari

    Thanks Julie…good thinking post…

  5. Pam

    Maybe another important thing for a parent to have with their teenager, that could also be a factor in how well they take on the “real world” after HS is strong and open communication.

    Alot of teens faced with all the “tough issues” wont go to their parents with them. They will try to handle it on their own or if they do go to anyone with it, its their friends. And I mean really, how would a person their age who is probably just as clueless give the right advice? Rarely will that happen.

    But I think mainly its just because of how awkward the thought of going to your parents is. What teen WANTS to admit to their parents they have been having thoughts about going to partys, or trying drugs because their friends are, or about sex. I also realize how awkward it might be for a parent to talk about those issues with their little baby boy or girl who is now growing up.

    I think its all about breaking a barrier. The awkward barrier of saying the S word in front of their parents. For a teenager, hearing stories about how their parents have messed up in the past is going to open up their ears alot more than the “Just don’t do it its stupid.” phrase. Then they REALLY know you have “been there done that” and are more likely to be able to come to you when they know (they know stories now) they are struggling with the same thing you have when you were their age. Then they know they are not the only person in the world having to go through it and wont have to face it alone, all because of the awkward thoughts of having to talk about the “tough issues” for the first time with their parents.

    What parent wants to talk to their kid about sex and drugs, that means they are growing up? Or who wants to bring up their past mistakes from their crazy days with their teen? It is probably just as awkward a thought as a teen thinks it is talking to their parents about sex. But either they are going to hear their friends advice or they are going to hear yours. People their age are not going to tell them the bad parts or the bad after effects that could happen by doing drugs or drinking, just the fun parts. But parents have more of a realistic view of how something that seems cool and fun now could really mess up some part of your life. So share with them your personal stories and mistakes.

    I know we see those commercials all the time about Parents Talking to their Teens about drugs, alchohol, etc. but does anyone REALLY talk to them besides just telling them once or twice simply “Not to do it.” I mean even with 5 year olds, a simple “dont do it because i said so” is not enough for them so they automatically want a specific “WHY?” Lol Although 5 year olds and 17 year old are completely different, i still think its kind of the same concept, only instead of asking WHY? they roll their eyes and go on about their business. With a 5 year old a parent does not really have to explain why its bad to do this, or why they cant have this or do that. But with a teenager I think its really important you take that eye roll as they are asking “WHY” and give them the biggest, longest, and most specific answer you can even when on the outside they look like they could care less. (It WILL stick with them, if you keep talking)

    And we all know teens are stupid sometimes and will always do stupid things no matter how many crazy stories you tell them about your teen years or even though you can talk about ANYTHING, but at least they wont have to go through life trying to deal with it on their own and (probably) choose the wrong choice (teens are not wise yet Lol). At least they are MORE likely to go to you and possibly prevent a small problem from turning into a huge one.

    I know I am probably rambling about nothing that has anything to do with anything. Lol And I am sorry mom. Just delete the comment if its too off the wall. haha


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  7. Jennifer

    Very well said, Pam. You are so right, teenagers, more than at any other age, need explanations, long, in depth, detailed explanations. I have come to understand that much of what I’ve said over the years that I thought fell on deaf ears, really didn’t. It may not have prevented mistakes or bad decisions, but I was heard, and now some of those things come back to me as “so you did know something, Mom” and “guess I should have listened to you after all”. I’ll take that. We all make mistakes. It’s what we do with them that really matters.

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