August 10, 2008

Timing is Everything

This is a hard lesson to learn. It means waiting; it means letting go of control; it means trusting. If I had my way, I'd line everyone up, hand them their schedules and send them off do all those good things that will lead to a happy adulthood. Afterall, I know what they need and if they'd just do what I say, everything would turn out great. See what a control freak I am? But I know this is bad, bad, bad, for all the reasons I've written about already (motivation, interest-led learning), so I've learned to control my tongue and my natural tendencies, count to ten before ordering all that curriculum (among other things), and trust that my kids will develop along their own lines in their own way, in their own time.

Case in point: Melissa just returned from 10 days in Mexico, helping to finish the roof for an orphanage. When she left she was racking up 9,000 text messages a month, complaining that our car wasn't nice enough, and not too interested in spiritual things. I know parents out there who would never stand for their kids texting that much or skipping church or not having a daily devotional time. But things of the heart can't be forced. In fact, when you force them, they backfire and you end up raising a child who wants nothing to do with your faith. The texting thing? Well, I figured that whole issue wasn't worth fighting about. Surely she'd get sick of it eventually or her thumb would fall off from overuse.

When she got home Saturday night she said she didn't think about her phone once while she was gone and now she doesn't even want to start texting again. It's just so "stupid" and shows how we waste our lives. None of that reasoning came from me. And being around others who were having daily devotions made her want to do that too. I even saw her reading the Bible at breakfast today--on her own accord, with no comments from me. She says she wants to go back to Mexico and make a difference with her life. "Who wouldn't want to do that?" she says.

I know this might all wear off in a day or two, but I think something major has happened in her maturity. She's seen another side of life and come to her own conclusions, in her own time.

the kids gave up going to a water park and used the money to buy and install this water tank for the orphange

I've seen the same thing happen with Meg and Peter. They might be sure something is right, and I give my perspective, but I don't push them or force them to comply with my thinking. If it were a truly serious, life-threatening issue, I'd be much more stubborn, but so far, it hasn't come to that. I wait and let them develop their own opinions, even if that means disagreeing with me, because I know too well that I don't know everything.

The bottom line? I want to raise children who know how to govern themselves, not depending on me or their dad to hold the leash, and not resenting us for micromanaging their lives. We've set basic guidelines in the early years to love and respect (see setting boundaries) and we do a pretty good job of modeling that, so from that standpoint, I let go and wait for them to develop their own convictions and standards of behavior. At times, that's pretty scary. But give it time.


Heather said...

God is SO GOOD! That is wonderful. Isn't it awe ispiring how God changes their heart without our forcing. :) BTW--she or any of your others may be interested in the World Race or AIM : --my kids can't wait till they are old enough to be involved and Seth Barnes, the president of the group has an amazing blog:

G.Dowell said...

This is one lesson that I have to learn on a daily basis. Thanks for the reminder. I aways tell myself to grab hold of what I learned about letting go. This was a lesson that came from Christine's illness . . . letting go and letting God work.

You've also reminded me that experience is the greatest teacher. We can read about something or listen to a lecture about something, but to experience something is by far a greater lesson learned. Melissa has learned some valuable lessons on her trip to Mexico. Wonderful!

I'm going to investigate Heather's suggested websites. :o)

Kimmie said...

Thanks for sharing about your daughters mission trip and the heart transformation that God led her into. I think you are very wise and that your children are blessed.

May God speak to your daughter's heart and may she never be the same again.

mama to 6
one homemade and 5 adopted

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post.

At A Hen's Pace said...

So encouraging to hear about your daughter's turnaround...I shared it with mine! (We had just disabled the texting because it was getting so out of hand.) She has a friend who went on a missions trip earlier this summer and came back with some of the same feelings, so your post reminded her of that.

Whenever she seems particularly blinded by our culture, my husband mutters under his breath about sending her to Africa, where we have friends through our denomination. --Your daughter's experience is encouraging to hear about!


Deborah Niemann said...

What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing!

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