Parenting is never easy – it’s easy when you are looking at someone else and their kid and you know exactly what the solution should be and yet when it comes to our own kids it’s not that easy!! That’s because we judge circumstances by what we see and not by the facts or underlying circumstances that are not always visible to us. I know that as a parent it is really hard when we are criticized about our kids and it can be painful too. There can be truth in what is said but not always exact truth. That sounds weird but this is how it goes. We are at a place as parents where we are wondering what happened to our sweet, sensitive, very generous son. He has gone from this to a teenager who hides in his bedroom in his own company and when he does venture out it is to grunt at us or to tease his sisters until they are distraught and angry. He prefers his own company these days and every now and again we insist that he become social with the rest of us and come on some family outings. Now I know we have had huge changes the last six months by immigrating to a new country, and so I see that there needs to be grace there. On top of that he is going through puberty – I never realised how moody boys can become – swinging from defiantly challenging one (all that testosterone I guess) to being downright sullen and withdrawn. He is going through all these changes – his voice breaking and outbreaks of pimples – hair and styling it has become a very important morning ritual now – poor Michaela has to fight for her hair straightener!! Is it just me, or is puberty in boys really hard? I don’t remember it being this hard with my daughter. Yes, she had emotional moodswings, but ususally she let it all out in a few angry outbursts, slammed a door and it was all over. Please tell me that this is normal behaviour!!! I miss the spontaneous hugs and “Ilove you Mum” and the teasing nature and slightly mischievous sense of humour he has. It is as though an alien has taken over our son.
To get back to criticism – we had someone at church comment that it is so sad that Ethan doesn’t want to sit with us as church and that we should really do something about it. Poor hubby felt a failure as a father after the discussion, after he was told that he should spend more one on one time with him. Well as I said, there is some truth in all this, but the other side of the coin that others don’t see is a family all adjusting to a new life in a new country, puberty happening, hubby adjusting to a new job which is stressful and a son who is declaring that he doesn’t want to come to church. As a parent, trying to weigh up all these things, allow freedom for choices while at the same time knowing that some things he is too young to have freedom in can be hard. So we need grace and unconditional love to love him through this even when he is most unlovable and patience above all to accept that there may be criticism and judgement from others. For me the key is knowing that Jesus does not condemn or judge our lack of parenting skills, but is cheering us on from the sidelines as we play this game in life.