At some point, as parents, we make the declaration, “I want my children to have better than I did.” It is a common desire for us to want to see our children progress beyond any height we achieve. We want to see them flourish and grow into people we always wanted to be. Stop… think I about what I just said. We want them to be the person we always wanted to be. Now, you may not have said it out loud or my words may not capture yours exactly, but if we are honest, isn’t that what we want? To raise our child to be something we are or were not? Who are you not? Something to Selah, sit and calmly think on these things.
My son will be 18 years old in a few days, as his father, I have tried to teach him about the realities of this world and instructed him on how life will soon shift for him. Explaining that there are choices he is going to make in the next few years that will impact the majority of his life. I warn him about putting too much emphasis on girls, playtime, etc., and the pitfalls that lie ahead. I encourage him to keep God in his life and heart and to set goals for himself. All this because I know! I know that what he thinks of the world right now is not the reality that is coming his way.
Some things, I am more adamant about, as it pertains to his choices. Like… going to college or getting a trade. Not having sex and getting a girl pregnant. Being confident but not arrogant. Putting your all into whatever you do. Being honest and honorable. Good advice to all, but at times I find myself being controlling. I forget how my mind worked as a soon-to-be 18-year-old. I remember my parent’s mouths moving but heard little of what they said. The more forceful the advice, the more I heard them trying to stop me from living my life. I was about to be FREE! No more rules! I could do what I wanted! Typical mindset for that age. I loved my parents, as I believe my son loves me, yet the freedom train was pulling out of the station and I was dead set on getting on it.
Honestly, my advice was centered around many of the poor choices I had made. The things I was adamant about were the very aspects of my own life that weren’t present, especially back then. I did want my son to be better than me. It is my way of fixing my own life by fixing his. It was as if I was advising myself. The advice itself was and is solid, these are the things I should be telling him, but I probably should have explained what motivated some of the advice I was giving him. I should have told him that I made an error when I chose not to continue my college education and that I had to work much harder to have the things I wanted. I should have told him that sex consumed me and the pursuit of it produced a harder road to travel because his older sister was born when I was 21. I should have told him that I wasn’t an honest person and because of it… it produced sorrow and pain for myself and those around me. So my advice to him, was ultimately, to not be who I was. I never told him that.
Thinking about the advice I have given my son, the Holy Spirit began to speak to me, saying “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (KJV). You know there is a great distance between being a child and being old. For me, this verse means that, in the middle, he is going to have to have experiences. He is going to have to make some wrong choices and deal with the consequences. Consequences that are going to ultimately lead him to a point in his life when all the advice, I had given, will kick in and God will be there. Why not! It did for me, eventually.
The moral of this story, we want so badly to keep our children from the hazards of the life we lived and saw. We don’t want them to know what it was like to have to live in your car, because of poor choices. We do our best to shield them from reality. So I ask, whose life are you trying to fix? We forget that everything we have experienced helped to build us into who we are today. You may have been hell-on-wheels back then, but where do you stand now? Would you be the person you are without those experiences? Could I know how God can take my mess of a life and make it brand new, without having had a mess-of-a-life?
Step back, if you trained them, then trust that it’s in them. I am not saying not to tell them the truth, but know that the more we push, the more pushback we get. I place all my children’s lives in God’s hands. Now I have to trust Him. You can’t fix that young you! Why should you, if it wasn’t for them, would you know God like you do today? Encourage them to do the right thing, by telling them the truth about the wrong things you’ve done. They are going to need your real story, details included. We may be able to help them avoid a few missteps, but we all know life is filled with potholes just waiting for us to fall into. I fell in a lot of them. Yet, today those experiences allow me to understand the purpose behind why I had to be who I was, just to be who I am!!
Brian K. Jones is a Los Angeles native writer and father to 6 children and 3 grandchildren. He loves life and enjoys the little things.