Guest blog post!
Dawn Whitestone parents two teenagers in Winter Park, Florida. In addition to mothering her children, she trains relational skills to organizations and individuals as the Chief Growth Catalyst for WhiteStone Professionals, LLC. Connect with her at www.WhiteStonePros.com.
Recently, my oldest daughter rang our doorbell at four o’clock in the morning.
Disoriented and confused, I opened the door to find her crying. Her words came spilling out. “I’m so sorry to wake you up, Mommy! My friend had to bring me home. I can’t find my keys. We looked four times in the place where I left them, but they weren’t there. I’m so sorry…” And on her remorseful lament continued to pour out.
I wrapped my arms around her and spoke soothing words of reassurance as she sobbed. I listened and cooed and told her I was glad she had woken me up. Internally, I breathed a prayer of thanks and tried not to smile. This was awesome! Such a great answer to prayer.
Are you surprised? Let me explain. You see, since my kids became teenagers and started spending more and more time away from my watchful eyes, I have prayed this prayer: “Lord, when my kids make bad decisions, would you please let them get caught quickly? Please, Lord, don’t let them get so far down those negative roads that it becomes hard to turn back. Please keep them safe, and let them learn the tough lessons early. Let it be just painful enough that they don’t want to make that mistake again.”
This morning was one of those times, and I rejoiced God answered that prayer. Does this seem strange to you? Shouldn’t a Godly, loving parent ask God to keep her children from making bad choices in the first place? Or shouldn’t we step in and not let them do those things? Shouldn’t I have known where my daughter was?
Let me answer that last question first. I did know where my oldest daughter was. In fact, we had discussed the details of this outing and whether it was a good idea. I expressed my concerns and made alternative suggestions, which she decided not to follow. And yes, I let her make that decision. Our oldest Daughter is 18, has graduated from high school, and will be headed off to college this fall. Legally, she is an adult, though she still lives at home and I could “lay down the law.” However, I know that she needs to start experimenting with her growing autonomy. I would prefer she make mistakes like this one when I’m around to dry her tears and talk her through making better choices the next time.
Letting our children make mistakes and feel pain is hard. It takes a high level of maturity. It takes the skill that THRIVEtoday calls Godsight or Seeing What God Sees.
Godsight is an advanced skill, and it is not for the faint of heart, especially when it comes to parenting. When we See What God Sees, we can often see that the outcome of our children’s decision will be painful. As parents, of course, we want to spare our kids from pain. However, sometimes words and parental wisdom don’t do the trick. Sometimes pain is the best teacher. Because of this, a prerequisite to Godsight is the skill Return to Joy. This skill teaches us that we can experience pain and recover from it. Return to Joy grows our ability to experience the negatives in life, first for ourselves and then for others, without those negatives getting the best of us. When we know we can Return to Joy from painful, negative events; we can face the difficulties of life with confidence.
So, here’s how things went down with my daughter from a Thrive perspective:
My daughter shared her plans with me. Because I’ve developed the skill to See What God Sees, I knew her plans would likely lead to painful consequences. I shared these concerns with her, but she assured me she knew what she was doing. I wanted her to grow and knew that pain could be a good teacher. So, I took a deep breath, stopped talking and let her move forward. I could do this with confidence, for two reasons: I was praying for her and knew that God would be with her. And, I knew that I had the skills to help her Return to Joy when she experienced the pain of a poor decision.
Let’s face it: parenting teenagers is HARD! To do it well takes the wisdom of God and well-developed relational skills. I’m thankful that THRIVEtoday had helped me to learn those skills and so I could put them into practice when I needed them.0
Thank you, Dawn, for sharing this wonderful post. I’m not at the teenage stage yet, but do appreciate ways I can apply the 19 relational skills to teens. I currently have a 5 and a 1 year old, and do a lot of the return to joy. I certainly am encouraged more to practice it when I read posts like these! Keep them coming! I’m wondering if there can be another book/resource where the 19 relational skills can be applied in specific ways at various stages of parenting?
Dawn Whitestone says
Thanks, Mary! I believe that book is on the drawing board. Chris and Jen, can you comment more fully on that?
Jen Coursey says
Thank you Mary and Dawn, yes we are planning to write a book on parenting with the relational skills and hope to see it come out early next year.
Wanda Morgan says
I so agree with this plan to let them make the mistakes while the consequences are smaller and the opportunity for support is larger. Maturity asks who is this choice or course of action really for. For me the mom as it feels better to let my self believe that I can be in control and protect them or to give them the opportunity to learn the sometimes painful life lessons that will empower them to one day navigate life with out needing me. I once told one of my son’s high school teachers that I would not wake him up to help him get to class on time even if it did mean he would fail the class if he was late again. He needed that skill for college and life and I was not going to rob him of the chance to develop it.
Dawn Whitestone says