TOP 3 WAYS TO SURVIVE HIGH SCHOOL PARENTING
Well, the time has finally arrived and my baby is about to fly the coop. She will graduate this week and head to a land far away...Alabama. My husband and I are incredibly proud of her. It has been a long road from the days when she would throw her shoes at the back of my head in our minivan, buck so I couldn’t buckle her into her car seat, and pitch fits monumental enough that visitors at Old Faithful begged me to take her back to the hotel. True Story. So what changed and how did we arrive here at this point with all three children still alive and relatively normal? How did we make it through the 12 total years of raising high school students?
Here are the top 3 ways we survived high school parenting:
1. OFFERING THEM UP
I distinctly remember the day that I was studying God’s Word and reading about Abraham offering Isaac up to the altar of the Lord. I was so struck and realized that God was asking me to do the exact same thing with my then high school aged son. We were having a rough time. He was wanting to do his own thing. He thought he knew more than we did...about everything. We weren’t thrilled with the choices he was making, and yet the Lord clearly told me, “Offer him up. Leave him to me. Put him on my altar. I’ve got him. I love him far more than you ever could.” It was tough and I struggled but did what I felt God was leading me to do.
Did things change dramatically? No. Did everything end up sunshine and roses? No. But I trust God implicitly and He showed me through that experience that He is faithful and good. We are now 8 years post high school graduation and we have continued to encounter bumps, lots of them. But I am sure that God has the BEST plan for our son.
2. BEING AVAILABLE AND FLEXIBLE
With our youngest, I can remember driving down the road when she was a toddler. We were having a particularly bad day. She had ripped the matching bow from her hair and threw it at me. She was talking incessantly in gibberish which I could not understand and I sat at a stoplight and just cried. I thought about how much longer I would have to endure this child and I would I count the days, the months, the years, but now I would give anything to have that time back. As we near the end of our baby’s high school career, I am more and more aware of time and I have literally put other things on hold so that I can spend time with her. And I’m talking stupid bits of time...running to the grocery store at all hours of the night with her so I can just talk with her, laugh with her and be with her. When she wants to just sit and watch Netflix, I do it. When she snuggles with me on the couch, I savor it. Time is passing quickly and it won’t slow down, so treasure every moment.
3. LOVING THROUGH DISAPPOINTMENTS
Little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems. Truer words have never been spoken. As a toddler, problems are pretty insignificant. They can be exhausting for the parent, but they’re usually pretty innocuous and as our children reached high school age, it was pretty apparent that their issues were becoming more important, with more opportunity for character-building. How would our child’s character grow when he had a sport-ending injury? How could we help him see the big picture and the plan God may have for him? How could we love him well? Heart-wrenching events such as this make a Mama’s heart ache and yet, pointing the child to Christ, the Sustainer of our faith, is a good start. Hearing their disappointment and helping them to see the bigger picture and loving them and being available to listen goes a long way. Disappointments will happen. God’s Word promises it. How we walk through the disappointment develops our child’s character, and ultimately our child’s character should be one of our prime concerns.
My husband and I have done none of this perfectly. As a matter of fact, as I look back, I think we messed up a lot. I wish we could have some do-overs. And yet, in this beautiful mess of life, I think God uses it all...the bumps, the bruises, the mistakes. He takes our broken parenting and holds our children in the palm of his hand and walks the journey with them. So, don’t stress, don’t beat yourself up...God’s got you and he’s got your child.
And one additional blessing...although our baby is graduating, we have the incredible honor and privilege to be guardians of a fourth child, a junior in high school. So as much as I am sad about our baby graduating, I get to do this one more year! God truly is good!
By Leslie Clement, Mom of a Senior at Intermountain Christian School