CLICK HERE to listen to Episode 96, "Val & Abby on Waiting with Grace, It's a Growth Thing! The Conversation a year later."
Images and messages all around us are shouting to our kids, "Your worth is in who is attracted to you" and young ears are NOT immune from these messages either. This pressure is a growing issue affecting the choices our kids are making at every age. As intentional parents, we need to counter the false messages with TRUTH and we need to EQUIP our kids to guard and treasure their hearts.
What does that look like?
How do we equip our kids to focus on growth and becoming who they were created to be rather than who society says they should be and BEFORE they start focusing on what some other person is wanting?
How do we teach our kids to GUARD & TREASURE their hearts?
Are we keeping our target on equipping them with self-worth, self-control, and more?
This is a very big topic that I've been weaving into the fabric of this podcast over the past two years and there's still so much more to share! At the bottom of this blog, be sure to see the links to former episodes of what we've covered so far. The topic will be on-going, so keep watching for more!
Last week, in episode #95, you listened to a conversation between me and my daughter Abby (at the time of recording she was a sixteen-year-old junior in high school). The conversation continues this week, recorded a full year later, in our episode this week, episode #96. Abby shares some keys that helped her slow down this process, how she waited a little longer than society around her to open the door of her heart to the complex world of romantic relationships, and what important purposes she was focusing on during the waiting.
She hasn't waited sequestered in her house, staring out an attic window, like the fairy tale character Rapunzel, in the movie Tangled. No, there has been important work to do in the waiting - there are vital GROWTH purposes in WATIING WITH GRACE.
It’s not really just about WAITING a little longer, it’s about PREPARING for something that is valuable, and it's about BECOMING who God created UNIQUE YOU to be, not just becoming who someone else is attracted to or that would gain the approval of a romantic interest.
CLICK HERE to listen to episode 96,
Now, for my blog post about Waiting with Grace...
There’s lots of important things in life that are better when we wait a little while.
When we’re going to have a baby, we don’t get that little one the next day. We typically wait nine months; and those nine months are important for growth, not just in our baby, but growth in ourselves. We’ve got lots to do to prepare for our little one –🍼we have a baby shower to collect clothes, 🍼we decorate a room, 🍼we pick out a car seat and stroller, you’re all moms, you know what ALLL we gather in preparation. 🍼But we also prepare our hearts for our new role. They're some BIG concepts – thinking of loving someone MORE than our own self, caring for someone 24/7, whether we feel like it or not, whether we are tired or sick or isolated or overwhelmed… motherhood changes everything and that requires preparation. God made it that way on purpose.
Do you know God also said, in Song of Solomon 8:4, “Do not awaken love before it’s time.” He was saying, "Wait a minute. Slow down. Let’s make sure you’re ready for this."
All amazing and wonderful and exceptional things in life require some preparation, which also means waiting, which also means anticipation of what you’re waiting for. And there's a lot of character development that can happen in waiting.
I’m pretty sure all of us mamas, if our kids get married, we long for our kids to have healthy, strong, happy marriages. But do we put enough thought into the preparation for their marriage and for the relationships that precede marriage? When should that preparation begin? When they get engaged is the typical timeline. I want to suggest something atypical to you. That is, preparation for healthy dating relationships and marriage needs to start at a very young age. Technically, it HAS started. Your kids ARE getting messages about romance, dating, and marriage. The question is, are any of those messages coming from you?
Our kids are receiving messages about relationships from the world constantly. They see messages📢 in their movies,📢 in their friends' parents relationships,📢 in their older siblings' or aunts' or uncles' dating relationships,📢 in songs on the radio…. Messages about romance, dating, and marriage are everywhere every day.
IF OUR KIDS ARE RECEIVING MESSAGES ABOUT ROMANCE, DATING, and MARRIAGE from the world, don’ you think YOU should have a clear message as well?
What is your message?
What do you believe about romantic relationships for your kids?
What age is ok for this to begin?
What boundaries should exist in this at each age?
You are not going to have the same beliefs that I do, not the same boundaries for them. But I at least want to encourage you to give this topic the attention it deserves.
Let me ask you a question: How much have your dating and romantic relationships from the past impacted your life? Has it been a significant impact? If so, don’t you think, as we equip our kids for life, that we should be INTENTIONAL with this impactful area of life?
To me, this is too important of a topic to say, “Ah, they’ll figure it out, trial and error.” Yes, there are many lessons for them to learn from experience, but first, wouldn’t it be best to prepare them as best we can? We don’t hand them keys to a car and say, "Go, learn from your mistakes." No way, there’s too much at stake! They can hurt the car. They can hurt themselves. They can hurt others as they experience trial and error. So, before we let them sit in the drivers seat alone, learning from their mistakes, we sit with them. And before we sit with them, they sit with us, and we have them read a drivers manual. There are stages of preparation for the important things in life. (I’d love to go over with you the stages of preparation, but that will have to be a topic for another day.)
Last week, in part one of this series, the conversation with my daughter Abby happened a year ago when she had just turned 16 and was headed into her junior year. Now, today’s conversation is a year later, as she heads into her senior year. It's very interesting to hear how her confidence has changed in that year and how the atmosphere among her friends has changed over that year's time. We don’t specifically talk about it in this conversation, but I’ll just fill you in that now she is at a place spiritually, emotionally, and just in general maturity, that she would be ready for a romantic relationship and she would handle it well. That made the wait worth it.
Just think, she didn’t 💘wound any other hearts over the last few years and 💘she didn’t experience a bunch of silly regrets from impetuous, immature romantic relationships, or 💘worse-than-silly regrets.
She spent that time instead developing her
life interests and career pursuits,
her passions and perspectives,
expanded her worldview.
learned to be a really good friend,
learned how to develop deep friendships that are mutually edifying,
had time to learn God’s heart on these topics,
had time to ESTABLISH HER OWN BOUNDARIES and her own perspectives about romance and dating BEFORE she is in situations that would tug at her emotions,
had time to develop SELF-CONFIDENCE and SELF-WORTH - both very important ingredients in a dating relationship so that the decisions made in that relationship are ones that have HER best interest at heart, that reflect HER values and not the desires of someone else superseding her perspective. Low confidence and low self-worth have led to many unfortunate outcomes in dating. So, she isn’t likely to give in to something she doesn’t want to do out of a NEED to be validated in that way.
While I am mentioning unfortunate outcomes, another benefit of waiting a little longer to start dating means that she has learned lots of dating lessons through watching the peer dating around her and through her friends who have confided in her about their choices or their giving in to pressures from a romantic interest.
She also is aware of pitfalls such as being in love with the feeling of being loved, more than loving the guy himself.
She has waited for the good stuff, instead of settling for anything.
Don’t you think that a romantic relationship she would have now would be so much richer from having prepared first? To be clear, she has liked different boys along the way and she has spent time developing friendships with boys, but she has not gotten into a romantic relationship with any of them. That has been the journey that has been best for her.
The title of the podcast this week, “Waiting with Grace" has a few different meanings. I just love it when titles do that, don’t you?! First of all, Abby developed GRACE in the waiting - as she refined herself in this preparation time. Then also you will hear her say in episode 96 that one of the key things she has needed through this time is parents who show GRACE as she hasn’t walked the journey perfectly. (Side note here - NO PERSON EVER walks any path perfectly, not our child, and not us parents. GRACE is required on every path, always. That's something I wish I would have learned much earlier
than I did).
The other meaning in the title, Waiting WITH Grace, is what Abby brought up at the end = the importance for her to have grace with herself AND the importance of her parents to have grace with her. Grace as a parent is NOT something that has come naturally or easy to me. In fact, it is going to be part of what I talk about in an upcoming podcast called Parenting Blindspots. I completely under-valued the importance of GRACE in parenting my older kids. High standards are great as long as they are accompanied with grace and a PARTNERSHIP in the teen years. The teen years are a time for launching an adult. Ideally, by the time your child is a teen, it is great if you don’t have to be at a place of rules as much as a place of partnering together in determining the next few steps and appropriate boundaries in their life for this step. Then, together look ahead again to the next few steps and discuss, having transparent hearts with one another (parent to teen and teen to parent), determining appropriate boundaries together at a slow pace ONLY after the teen has shown maturity and trustworthiness on the step and boundary they are currently on. When my kids don't show themselves trustworthy on a given freedom, that freedom has to be reined back in. We are equipping them to live a healthy, balanced, thriving life on their own and that takes a partnership in the teen years IF the teen is mature enough for a partnership. We begin by giving our kids clearly defined, tight boundaries; then gradually those boundaries expand AS THEY DISPLAY THE CHARACTER QUALITIES REQUIRED FOR THE NEXT STAGE OF BOUNDARIES & PRIVILEGES. We shouldn’t give expanded boundaries and increased privileges when someone isn’t ready for them.
What's Coming Up on the Podcast:
* "WHY & HOW I Homeschool" I'm about to begin my 24th year of homeschooling and lots of moms ask me WHY & HOW I homeschool, so I'm going to tell you! I'll answer questions like, "What are the pros & cons?" "What do you do with the littles when the bigs need detailed lessons?" and lots more....
*Becoming a VOLUNTEERING Family - for the joy, for the character development, for the worldview perspective with guest Debbie Smith
*The 100th Episode!!!
Other Podcast Episodes about the topic of teaching our kids to Guard and Value their Hearts regarding Romance, Dating, Marriage:
Episode 22 - Are We Going to Teach Our Kids that Sex is Sacred?
Episode 72 - Teach Your Kids the Truth About Love
CLICK HERE to listen to Episode 96, "Keys to Waiting with Grace, the Conversation Continues."