Care and keeping of teenagers…

To my fellow parents,

I find it hard being both a morning person and a parent of a teenager. I am ready to call it a day about the time my son is ready to start the night–but sometimes I need to remain a vigilant chaperon when I would prefer to close my eyes and go to sleep.

Galatians 6:9 reads, “Let us not become weary in doing good…” and seems to be God’s message of the day for me. The verse finishes “for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” With a 16-year-old on the brink of driving on his own, I can almost see the end of my role as chauffeur and, with it, my role as chaperon. (I’m sure I am merely exchanging my fatiguing chauffeuring status to the ever-more challenging one as worrier–where I give up some responsibility and thereby lose a lot of control.) You see, last week my husband bought another car–which means that my son will have the privilege of purchasing my husband’s previous car and begin driving alone in July, when his yearlong apprenticeship (i.e. state learning permit requirement) has been satisfied.

The significance of the car purchase has not been lost on my son and has been a great source of conversation for us, including gas mileage, car maintenance, communication, trust, and, yes, girls. (Oh, and the upcoming driving exam he must pass.) So far, he has been doing the math–checking out the miles per gallon of “his” car vs. the various cars owned by his friends. He is discussing such details as what gas we, his parents, will purchase (in the context of what gas his friend’s parents cover for his buddies, of course) and car maintenance and, the likely inevitable, repairs.  (He has yet to talk insurance costs. I didn’t want to steal all his joy and have only mentioned insurance in general.)

We’ve talked communication. Thankfully, Adam’s older sister has been a model of good communication, calling when she arrived or left a location, checking in when she made a change of plans, and otherwise making sure we knew where she was. It cut down on the worry factor. Adam seems to understand this–and he’s experienced my reaction when he has failed at this in the past.

Trust has been an ongoing conversation topic for us. If we can’t trust our child without wheels, we certainly won’t be providing access to wheels. Short and simple. That goes before the license and after the license. Period.

We also had some heart-to-heart conversations about the care and keeping of young ladies. After some conversation, we narrowed the topic to a few thoughts:

  • Flee the appearance of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:22 suggests not only staying far away from evil but also avoiding even the appearance of being involved in wrong doing. It is important to protect the young lady’s reputation as well as your own.)
  • Treat the young lady as you would if her parents were present.

Actually, following those two rules for all relationships and activities is a wise choice. Seeing my son growing up and taking on responsibility makes me proud–and a little nervous. The conversations we’ve had recently should–and do–make me feel more comfortable releasing my chaperon/chauffeur roles to my increasingly responsible son, but I know I will have my worrying moments.

I fear I will still have to muster the strength to be both a morning person (for me) and a parent of a teenager and not allow myself to grow wearing in doing good.

What advice have you given your children? What advice do you have for me?

I really want to know!


P.S. If you’ve seen tidbits of the speech “You’re Not Special” given at a high school graduation and bantered about on various news programs but haven’t seen the entire script, check out this link.

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