My son, if your heart is wise,
My heart will rejoiceindeed, I myself;
Yes, my inmost being will rejoice
When your lips speak right things. (Proverbs 23:15-16 NKJV)
The next few columns are going to be focused on helping dads work through their roles to responsibly provide spiritual influence in the home. (Moms can read along, of course; just make sure it gets to Dad, since its directed toward him.) As we share this subject, we will get very specific, right from the start. So, fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the drive!
The above Proverb hits very close to home in our family. Like most of you who read our column, we struggle with the give-and-tug of raising our children. (We say most of you just in case there are some who have raised, or are raising, perfectly-controlled kids. We dont want to assume that all of our fellow home-schooling families are like ushaving to work through issues like testing limits, disobedience, and maybe even different levels of rebellion. God bless you if you have avoided this problem. We would certainly love to meet you and learn your secrets of success. And we arent kidding!)
Sorry for the digression for a moment. For those of you whom we have had the privilege to meet over the past couple of years as we have spoken across the country on home schooling teens, you know that we share our experiences good and bad. Its not quite so easy to do so in this column because what we put in writing is permanent. It may come back to haunt us! When we share in workshops that you get uswarts and all, it may be recorded on tape, but even then, it is probably only going to be repeated one person or small group at a time, not copied onto a Web site or published in a magazine. For us to write about our personal challenges, failures, and trials is another matter. Therefore we do so very carefully and rarely. However, we want to provide help to parents who struggle, and we think that this one is major, so its worth the risk.
As David shares the following anecdote with you, please realize that this is a story in progress. The end is not yet told. In fact, it may be years away. However, we are sure that other parents are going through this same kind of situation in their homes; its a common problem in most families.
This is because, frankly, becoming involved with someone will be a normal part of life for our children. They will probably be attracted to another person (or personshopefully not at the same time) during their youth. Both our own personal experiences with our first three children, as well as observing many fellow home schoolers, also has shown us that this appears to be universally common. Looking back on our own childhood validates the truth of this as well. This subject is unavoidable. Period.
In fact, just this week, as David was driving through Rochester, New York, on business, he was listening to the local secular talk radio station. And guess what the topic of discussion was! Should 16 year olds be allowed to date! Thats right. Its being discussed as a mid-day subject on American Talk Radio today. This is cultural relevance at its finest!
What we are referring to is the common (and unavoidable) problem of preparing for interaction (relationships) with our children and those of the opposite gender during the teen years. (Yes, were trying to avoid the s-word for as long as possible, simply because it is overused so much in our culture these days.) Before we discuss the practical principles, let David lay the story line out before you.
Let us start by stating that the son we are dealing with is a wonderful young man. At 16, Josiah is a good teenager. He is a caring, intelligent, godly young man who loves Jesus Christ, acknowledges His Lordship, and has for a number of years. He has displayed Christian character in a number of challenging situations, even recently, showing many reasons to be proud of him, as the Proverb stated above expresses, My son, if your heart is wise, my heart will rejoiceindeed, I myself; Yes, my inmost being will rejoice. . .
All that to say, we are still challenged by the perpetual problem that many parents struggle with as their children are growingdealing with the issue of sexual attraction (well, there you go, we knew it wouldnt take long to use the s-word!) and desires to get to know and grow close to another teen of the opposite sex. We have dealt with this situation with two of our three older children already. But with Josiah it is especially challenging. Why? Because he has a tendency toward seeing how far he can bend the rules and stretch the limits. Can you relate to this?
Well, unfortunately, were out of space for this week. But if we have your attention, stay tuned; we might have some ideas to help you.
In our next column we will give some further background and principles on how to show loving direction and discipline in this difficult area of home-school fathering (and we suspect the other public and private home educators, including moms, will be interested as well). Also, our book "The Guidance Manual for the Christian Home School: A Parents Guide for Preparing Home School Students for College or Career" (or marriage for that matterits all in there) and our Web site, www.davidandlaurie.com, may also help.