It’s no surprise that most teenagers are convinced they are smarter than their parents. We can all remember our own eye-rolling moments with our parents growing up. “They’re so old-fashioned” or “They’re out of touch with reality” are likely common phrases we uttered under our breath when our first teachers tried their best to steer us in the right direction.
We don’t find out until many decades later that the advice our parents gave us was, well…spot on. I can honestly say that 99% of the things my mom and dad told me were right. I look back and wish I would’ve listened. So much heartache could’ve been avoided. But, as you know, sometimes kids have to learn things the hard way. That was me. That is still me.
Oh sure, there are times when I see a mistake from a mile away and avoid it like the plague. However, most times I dive right into the “you’re gonna regret this” pool and then do my best to doggy-paddle my way out. A recent event with my son is a perfect example.
I was interrupted by a text message telling me that he was going to drop a demanding course. My initial reaction was less than stellar as I went into “freak out” mode. I rapid-fire texted him about why this was a poor decision. This was quickly followed up with other admonishments I will keep to myself. In short, I was the opposite of a “Purposeful Parent” on the road to spiritual enlightenment. What can I say? It happens..
Mistakes are our best teachers
I instructed my first-born that I would not assist him in any way and that it was his responsibility to take care of this. His response to my tantrum was the mantra of all teenagers today – “whatever”.Later that day I received a text saying he’d taken care of everything and that there’d be no financial repercussions. I should’ve said “congratulations” or “good job” or something to recognize how well he handled the situation. I said nothing.
I continued to say nothing as I arrived home that evening but my son had much to say. He told me that this class was not what was explained to him by his advisor. He re-iterated that he’d taken care of everything and that he was now free to focus on his two other courses. His face was light. His demeanor relaxed.
Then he said the words that made me realize he was so much smarter than me. “Mom, I know myself and I know how I learn. I was not going to be successful in this class and it was better to drop it than risk failing.”
“I know myself.” At the ripe old age of 19, my son has figured out how he ticks. He knows what works for him and what doesn’t. He can easily articulate his strengths and weaknesses. Who among us can say we were as tuned in as he before our second decade? Not me for sure.
A few days after this incident, I would face my own “how well do you know yourself” moment. I made a major life-changing decision that some are calling courageous. Others not so much. After this decision, I realized that my son’s action were its inspiration. He saw something wasn’t working, he did an internal check-in and then he took appropriate action to make his life better.It was at that moment that I realized I owed my son an apology. Not only for my poor behavior but for discounting his ability to make such decisions on his own. As I entered his room, tears filled my eyes. I choked out my apology, hugged him tightly and shared my decision with him. His response was a far cry from mine.
“I just want you to be happy Mom.”
He did not criticize me or call me a quitter. He did not throw me to the wolves and tell me to fend for myself. He did not make me feel badly. He hugged me and wished me well, telling me that everything would be ok. My heart broke a little regretting my behavior and wishing I’d acted from a place of love and mercy as he did towards me.
My children are pretty forgiving of their ‘work-in-progress’ mother. They know deep down I’m trying to do my best but I fail…a lot. Most times we get a good chuckle at my foibles but sometimes, like this recent event, tears are shed.
Forgiveness is the answer
This incident made me realize how blessed I am to have kids who are so forgiving. It was also a reminder of God’s forgiveness. I have to wonder if He looks down at me sometimes and shakes His head at my actions saying, “Oh Jen…really?” But the kicker is, while He may get a good laugh at my mis-steps, He gives me another chance.What a gift this is! To be forgiven of your poor behavior or actions. And as if that weren’t enough, to be given the strength and wisdom to prevent the sequels.
I don’t know about you but I think this is something we could all use more of. Sure we need boatloads of love in our world but we also need forgiveness. Forgiveness of ourselves and others who have harmed us. Not just simple “I’m sorry’s” but true forgiveness that restores people back to wholeness. This is how God forgives. Shouldn’t we strive to do the same?
Who do you need to forgive today? Who do you need to show love and support to? Who do you need to tell you were wrong and they were right? I encourage you to pray on this and then take inspired action.
It’ll be the smartest decision you make.
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” (Matthew 6:12)