His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, "Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." This was Job's regular custom. --Job 1:4-6
Next week both of my children will be in high school. It’s a major shift in parenting. While the older boy has a mental outlook that makes him think as a young child, the next boy has been steadily stretching himself toward the world outside our home.
Gone are the big-eyed tikes who saw me as king and hero. And just as puberty has made them different persons, their maturing is changing me as well.
In the past few weeks, especially with Isaac, I have had to start doing different things with them. I had to practically drag him off on a family road trip. He would have preferred to hang around town on the off chance he might run into friends at the county fair. He enjoyed the trip, but it took my best persuasive techniques.
Just before that I taught him and his brother how to shave. That was pretty cool. They have their own razors, and have learned the rituals of hot water, razor angle and direction, and the benefits of aftershave.
Yesterday I took Isaac out and we had THE TALK. It went pretty well. In fact, as we headed off to pick up Mom’s birthday present he said “I’m glad we had that talk, Dad. Let’s do it again.”
Last night I taught them how to play poker, emphasizing the dangers in the game. I think they got the message because this morning J. said “Let’s buy chips to play that game. I don’t think money is good ‘cause we might end up playing with cameras and cell phones and cars and stuff.” Right on dude!
But the real change for me isn’t the need to talk about girls, and marriage, and sex, and responsibilities. The real challenge is to explain how God fits into all of this. The Sunday School classes they have attended only took them so far. The example I set in prayer and reading scripture only set up a foundation. Even their professions of faith that led them to the baptistry in that now burned out sanctuary was just a step. My duty now is to pull the disparate elements of their encounters with faith into something that will sustain them. They need to see how it fits together. That is one of my final stages in parenting.
They need to know how to love and be loved. They need to see that unconditional love isn’t just that I loved them before we even met. That I love them now and forever, and I will not relinquish my adoption of them no matter what they might do.
(Side note: it was suggested that we might let J. go after what he did at our church. That indicates two things. 1. Some people do not understand how deep love is and that biology is not the only way to have your own children. 2. Some people do not understand what unconditional love means. I pity their small hearts. How will they ever come to know our LORD?)
They must learn that they are lovable for them to truly love. If they are to have a mate that will love them fully, they must realize that it is possible for someone to love them and not leave for another, not cheat on them. I suspect that infidelity comes out of the fear of not being lovable. That we suspect that we are not going to be loved and we seek to either pre-empt the hurt we feel is coming, or seek reassurance of our worth from at least one more person (who is probably doing the same lonely thing).
There is one more thing I need to stay steady in this last phase of my parenting. I need to take my relationships regularly to my king. I need to seek His advice as we go into these teen years so He may guide me. Like Job, I need to intercede for my children, and I must do it regularly, seriously, fervently.
For those who do not have this relationship, I offer again all that I have to help you find Him. Leave your email address in a comment and I will contact you so we can chat. We can delete it so you do not get unwanted spam.
May you all keep your eyes on the shepherd’s heels. They are leading us to a place of peace. God bless. I love you.