Dear moms and dads of teens,
We all love our teens so much!
But, we also know that we’re raising our kids in a world that has some terribly ugly, dark, dangerous corners in it! We can’t be with our kids 24/7 to keep them out of those dark corners, and being a helicopter parent is bad for our kids and bad for us… but sometimes it’s pretty tempting to try, isn’t it?
One of those dark corners we like not to think about is teen pregnancy and abortions. I think most of us feel a certain horror when the topic of abortion comes up, especially in relation to teen pregnancy. “Oh, please God, not my teen!”
Abortions are dangerous! We’ve all seen the news articles about the abortionists with filthy, germ-infected facilities and the news items with women rushed to the hospital with serious complications after an abortion, even reports of women dying from abortions. And then there are the reports of women who can’t conceive because of scarring from abortions.
For the record: I’m pro-life.
I am also pro-safety for the lives of the women who might be tempted to visit an abortion facility. It is my prayer for them that God protects them and redirects them to good prenatal care and pregnancy support, and grants them clear consciences free of the guilt and pain of abortion, and love for the children growing inside them.
I found myself discussing all of this with some Facebook friends today.
How do we protect and redirect our kids away from these horrors? What kind of parenting does it require? What if we’re not perfect?
Oh, big newsflash: nobody’s perfect!
My kids have sometimes said that I am a wonderful mom, but I know–as only each person can know for themselves–that I am incapable of perfection. I’m not Super Mom. I can’t do it all, nor do I have to or need to. I have my flaws and imperfections, my own need for humility and grace. I am grateful for the forgiveness that my kids and family extend to me!
But there is one are I have put forth extraordinary effort in for my kids in spite of my own flaws and imperfections and my own challenging circumstances:
I have sought to stay emotionally connected. This has required time and effort, and lots of patience, often when I have felt poorly or exhausted, and felt I had no patience or time to give.
Sometimes, I have been aware of needing to give more than I was physically capable of, or even of disappointing my kids, and I am grateful that my kids have understood and forgiven me.
It is important not to live there, though. I want to connect with my kids! I want to have a good relationship with each of them!
Why is it important to stay emotionally connected and invested in your children’s lives?
Did you know that the very best way to keep your kids from experimenting with sex is to connect with them emotionally?
Lots of hugs and “I love you,” lots of talking about dreams and goals, lots of “I’m so proud of you for working so hard” and “doing the right thing feels good, doesn’t it?”
Staying involved, talking about who they’re interested in, the personality traits and character traits that make for “good husband material” and “good wife material,” how to know when someone’s “too good to be true,” meeting their friends, interacting with their friends, being hospitable to their friends…
Encouraging relationships with the kids whose parents share similar views on discipline and accountability is also helpful, too.
And encouraging spiritual, emotional, and psychological growth (and healing, where necessary).
Accountability, reminders about not wandering off alone with members of the opposite sex, waiting until marriage, even encouragement to engage mentally with other people, not just emotionally are also important!
Talking to your kids about ways to remain pure and to keep safe in a dangerous world shows your love and care for them, and helps them to look ahead and stay out of trouble that could scar them for life!
If you’re emotionally connected and involved in your children’s lives, it’s a lot less likely that they’ll go looking for love and attention in forms that are inappropriate or harmful.
But, nobody’s perfect, right?
Part of loving is also forgiving our children when they disappoint us, when they find themselves in trouble! And being granted forgiveness in our own turn.
If our kids know that we will be there for them no matter what, that we’ve got their backs, then–when they find trouble, they’re more likely to come running to us with their troubles, to talk them over and find a way to face them, than dig themselves in ever deeper. If our kids know we’re loyal to them, they’re also more likely to be loyal to us and stand by us even when we don’t quite it all right as parents.
Do we want our children to go through hard life lessons like teen pregnancy? No. But–I’d much rather deal with a teen pregnancy than the aftermath of an abortion.
Let’s pray for our kids, that God keeps them safe and healthy, and innocent and pure, and thank Him that He’s letting us be a part of that process! And let’s pray that God makes us the parents our kids need us to be.