Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gray Matter

When our kids were younger parenting seemed so black and white. And in my naivete, I was confident and consistence in my expectations for my children. Of course I projected that confidence well into the future proclaiming how I would and wouldn't react when my children became teenagers.

But something happened during the last nineteen years. What once was distinctly black and white has blended into varying shades of gray. Some of the grays are beautiful like the shimmer of platinum. We've found that only by allowing some of these gray areas in to our black and white world of parenting can the strength of character in our teens shine through...despite our differences of opinion on non-essentials such as haircuts, clothing, and appropriate language. (Is "crap" a bad word? Leave me comments and let me know your thoughts).

The other spectrum of the gray scale takes on the onimous darkness of an incoming storm. These are the grays where the stakes are higher and the consequences critical. The ones that deal with their futures, their spiritual health, and their preparedness to thrive independently out in the world. How important are A's on the report card? What is the acceptable alternatives? How long do I continue to do all of their cooking and cleaning and laundry? (a letter of apology to my future daughters-in-law will be forthcoming)

My method of parenting teens, whether right or wrong, seems to be to err on the side of grace. Gone are the easy days of absolutes, replaced by a priority on relationship rather than rules. I'm sure someday I'll be sitting with my children and they'll tell me where I went wrong and hopefully a little of what I did right. Hopefully the hard and fast discipline of the earlier days has taken root deep in their being and will be their compass in the storms. I pray they also know that we are always here for them and nothing can ever take away the love that we have for each of our children. In the meanwhile I'll continue to try and blend grace and boundaries into the perfect shade of gray.

Simply stated: Too bad I just can "ask Sherwin Williams!"


Joan said...

"Gray" is not bad, it is necessary. Dad and I as you know had to regroup often to meet all the individual needs of our "harem". We are proud of you all, and wouldn't really change much. Society does take its toll, but in the end it all works out.

ruth said...

Stac- I think gray is good. I am realizing as the boys go into their teenage years that discussion works so much better than hardfast yes or no. I think they appreciate it too, being treated more adult-like. Ruth