I’ll Dress the Way I Want!” Chapter 2.2

Posted: January 20, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Adolescence is the time when we become ourselves,” says Eugene Peterson. I wonder…perhaps that is part of what unnerves us as parents. We are not completely at ease at who we have become…or are becoming. And so we hope to exert some control, some direction, so that our kids might turn out better than we did.

Yet we as parents are not done becoming. We have selective memory. And we forget how important it was to begin to decide things for ourselves. To become themselves young people need to make choices and to live into those choices as they are becoming. As “the young person develops the capacity to make responsible decisions, these decisions provide the raw material for self-identity.” (p. 12)

What choices did your parents allow you to make….or perhaps circumstances forced you to make…as a teen that helped shape you?

When my best friend’s parents began a mission organization and moved to Italy to be its first missionaries, I was in third grade. They invited me to come visit them anytime. My parents said that once I had earned enough money for my own plane ticket, I could go.

They should have factored in my determination and competitiveness. I immediately began a lawn mowing business and was soon walking my little lawn mower all over town, mowing over 20 yards a week. I saved everything after tithe and had my ticket earned by the summer after 6th grade. My parents stood by their promise and I flew from Lexington to Pittsburgh to JFK airport in New York and then to Rome without them to spend five weeks. The conversation I had with a Roman Catholic sister who was my seatmate from New York to Rome proved pivotal as I began to own my faith for myself.

I had to make a lot of choices on the road to that trip and during the five weeks I was there. My parents let me make them. I was reminded of this by my then 17 year old daughter when she wanted to take a gap year and head overseas a few years ago. She was right. I gave her my blessing!

I am still stunned sometimes to think of what my parents did for me in allowing me to earn and to take that trip. It can’t have been easy for them. But the process shaped me. It directly impacted my work ethic, my faith, my eventual parenting, my character, and a lot more.

That is a pretty dramatic example. Maybe you didn’t go to Rome in junior high, but your parents did let you make some choices that were significant for you. Would you tell us about one and the difference it made for you?

(This post is inspired by chapter 2 of Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager by Eugene Peterson. Get a copy of this great little book and check back each Thursday for the next 10 weeks to become part of the discussion.)

Comments
  1. I do remember there were several examples of my parents allowing me to make my own decisions. Some turned out well while some got me into a lot of trouble. One of the things I learned though was how to fail when I make a poor decision.

    In leadership, marriage, parenthood, etc… I have made some really bad decisions but through the experience of failing within the safety of my family when I was a teenager has really taught me to bounce back after a mistake was made.

    My father always told me, “Learn from your mistake the first time, so you don’t repeat it a second time”.

    These experiences has really shaped who I am.

    • halhamilton says:

      Thanks, Steven! A great reminder that we all need a place where it is okay to fail.

      Your post made me think of when our kids were learning to walk…every attempt, every failure even was met with joy and affirmation and encouragement to try again. I think I had it right then!

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