No parent is perfect. In the same way, no two children are alike. Great parents can still have a child who rebels and goes astray, while great young adults can emerge from horribly dysfunctional families.
Some of us like to think we’re pretty good at parenting, but the truth is, we’re not ever in control of our young adult’s life. The illusion of control allows us to have a life without helicoptering around our beloved child every minute of every day (and night.) This would be exhausting and counter-productive to our desire to raise happy, healthy, and self-sufficient adults. And it would be impossible.
This past week we discovered one of our YAs was self-destructing in all the typical ways a young adult can hurt themselves and their future.
Our first response was to clamp down: a long list of things the YA needed to do and numerous prohibitions. Tough love. What choice did we have? In our pain, we couldn’t see any.
This particular YA was over eighteen and therefore, as parents, we had minimal control. We basically said, “It’s our way or the highway.”
The YA chose the highway and planned to move out in a week.
It was a week of crying and pain and prayer.
We went on the Internet looking for answers and learned a lot…
We had a problem. We couldn’t reconcile our desire to love our troubled teen unconditionally with tough love. It didn’t feel like love and this particular YA was certainly not seeing it for that.
Then we met with a young man at our church expecting his first child. It was this young man’s wisdom that opened up a whole new insight.
Instead of making this about our rules, … why not make this about the YA’s hopes, dreams, and goals? And our support of them.
And our unconditional love of our YA.
So we asked questions and listened. Without judgment.
Result: Our YA repented and asked for our forgiveness.
Apparently, we were not the only ones who had an eye-opening week.
Our YA learned many valuable lessons too:
- Family can be trusted to stick by you even when friends don’t.
- It costs a lot to live on your own.
- It’s hard to find a decent job without a high school diploma.
We learned, once again, the power of love. God’s love—numerous people were praying for our family—is the most powerful force in this universe and beyond.
Love mends hearts and hurts and relationships.