We met at a neighborhood coffee shop, Kelsey and I. She, a friend of a friend. I, a mom eager to glean from the experience of others.
I liked Kelsey immediately.
Her warm, open smile made it easy to talk about the harder parts of walking children into adulthood. And her knack for infusing hope into every aspect of parenting suggested a deep well of wisdom that intrigued me.
I marveled at her ability to release the expectations she’d had for her kids’ futures. She was especially generous in her willingness to embrace their dreams – dreams that were different from the ones she’d nurtured throughout their growing up years.
This is an aspect of parenting I’ve struggled with.
“Letting go of my dreams for them, that’s been hard,” says Kelsey. “But it took the pressure off all of us. I no longer feel like I’ve failed, and they don’t have to pretend to enjoy something they’re not interested in.”
Setting aside the aspirations one has for her children, in the hope that they will trust you with the truth of their hearts, takes great courage. It also looks a little messy at times.
Kelsey confirms this as she shares that her kids had “the stupid kid stuff” and some close calls – nothing long term, nothing they couldn’t recover from, just the usual teenage struggles. But she takes it stride, acknowledging that this is part of parenting. And it gave her the opportunity to teach her kids that tomorrow’s a new day.
Then she adds, with a laugh, “This too shall pass, just not very quickly.”
Still, I’m curious: Did she ever second guess herself and this letting go approach?
“Absolutely! We all know families where everything looks amazing from the outside. But for me, letting go of how I thought things should look for my kids helped me to appreciate my children for who they are. It gave me the freedom to accept every part of them.”
If you’re struggling with your teen’s unexpected decisions, may I encourage you to reach out to moms in your community? I have found that, when I share my burdens with other moms, they will often reciprocate, graciously sharing the concerns and experiences they’ve had with their own kids.
And don’t give up praying for your kids. Trust God with the beauty and the mess.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.John 15:12