At this point in our teen age sons' lives, they are finding their own way, their own likes and dislikes, political voice or lack of it, interests and finding out what are definitely NOT interests, etc.
Since considering having children, my husband and I have committed to seeing them as complete, not as little empty vessels waiting for us to mold and shape them. But really seeing that they are children of God, complete, entire, with their own God-given mission and direction. We are the ones priviliged enough to take care of them as they grow. Raising them has been an adventure as their own tastes and values grow, determining more and more their mission in life.
I have a framed poem On Children by Kahlil Gibran, given to me by a wise friend to celebrate the birth of my first son years ago.
And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, "Speak to us of Children."
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
That poem has constantly reminded me of the role each of us plays, and the equal respect and dignity each of us is expected to show toward each other. Now, one son is already out of the house and the other should be around for another 4 1/2 years. But this time goes by in a flash. Cliche, yes, but true!
So us, being the bow, and them, being the arrow, how can we keep the connection while honoring their steps into manhood? I think the best advice I ever heard was:
Don't make a big deal of it.
Keeping the connections open and being available are so important. One friend has taken up knitting. Her focus is on knitting which makes it a safe place for her son to crash into the couch next to her and talk. Driving also works, while your kid is at the wheel. Another friend cracks open a book and reads near a warm fire, making her accessible and interruptible at the same time. Talking, while doing something else makes things easier.
I am finding that conversations are becoming more conversational instead of instructional. Their ideas, questions, dreams and ambitions are blossoming and taking root. And they are starting to find their own answers. As one friend said, you are moving from a child/parent relationship to a place where you both act out from the fact that you are both children of God - on equal footing.
So, how do you keep connections with your kids??
To share your thoughts on this or to explore this idea further, please feel free to be in contact with me, add your own comments below, email this article to a friend, or add to the healing finds and sites on the web to the right.