What Do I Teach Them?

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about parenting lately. What do I want to teach my sons as they push off into the unknown of the world? How can I prepare them for what’s to come?

I’ve learned that no matter how much I prepare them, there will be surprises none of us saw coming. There’s not much we can do about those situations except teach them how to react in a healthy way. (Which, truth be told, I’m not always good at.)

I was told I have protected my children too much. That statement hurt my heart (even if it was true) as I was only trying my best with what I knew at the time. Looking back, I can see where I could’ve let natural consequences play out rather than shielding them from the mistake in the first place. So as a result of hearing that, I’m working on it. I want them to learn how to deal with consequences in life in a healthy manner and know that they do happen.

I have a disclaimer to put in here…maybe it’s a cop-out, I don’t know. I guess I’ll let you form your own opinion on that. What I have told my boys is that they really haven’t been given a fair shake in the “mom” department. Because of having no control over the loss of their brother, my natural instinct to protect them has only grown stronger and deeper. I don’t ever want to lose another one of my children, so I will do whatever I can in my power to prevent that.

Now, obviously, not everything is in my power. I’m fully aware of that as we lived out that exact scenario with our son’s cancer and death. Besides deciding on chemotherapy or a surgery or two, we had no control over much of anything. However, I also don’t want to be careless when teaching and parenting our two sons who are still with us. So, the trick is…I have to find the balance.

How do you balance the fear of losing another child with stepping back and allowing life to just happen?

I think I lost that capability while living with grief and loss. Not only grief and loss over our son, but also loss of friendships, loss of family relationships, loss of security, and much more.

When our oldest started college and moved out, I felt like he had the world at his fingertips. I was sad, but also so excited for him to find out what his dreams were and follow them. At the same time, I seriously questioned if I had taught him enough.

Did I teach him to be kind to others? Did I teach him to be resilient? Did I teach him to ask for help, in every aspect? Did I teach him how to manage his finances? Did I teach him to love God above all else and follow His Word? What did I leave out? What did I forget?

Oh, friends. I’m afraid I probably forgot a lot. Is there a list out there of what we need to teach our children before they fly the coop? If so, please send it to me…I still have another son to launch in a few short years.

There were many lessons my husband and I learned as we started out as young adults. We each made mistakes, but thankfully also learned from them. Daniel just told me recently that we need to allow our children to make mistakes and figure things out on their own. (He and I don’t always see eye to eye on that subject because of my innate desire to protect them.) I do understand where he’s coming from, but he’s also not the overprotective mom. (sigh)

So, what do I do? Here’s what I’ve come up with for now:

I teach them to love the Lord with all of their strength, mind, and heart.
I teach them not to forget about church during these young adult years.
I teach them how to cook some meals and how to read a recipe.
I teach them to be kind to everyone, even those who have different beliefs than them.
I teach them to study hard but remember that your grades don’t define you as a person.
I teach them to try different avenues, different groups, and eventually find where they fit in.
I teach them to call their mom. (Okay, that one is really just for me.)
I teach them how to do laundry and clean up after themselves.
I teach them time management.

I also want to teach them how this is just one small sliver in their lives and there’s so much more to come.
I want to teach them that no matter what, no matter when, no matter the reason, they can always come home again.
I want to teach them just how deep and wide a parent’s love for their child is. How it’s not conditioned on good grades, being the star athlete, being president of their class/club, or any achievement they may accomplish. Our parental love is unconditional. No matter what.
I want to teach them that high school was not the peak of their lives. There’s so much more to come and it can be exciting!
I want to teach them to reach for their dreams and know they have a cheerleader or two back home who will always cheer them on.
I want to teach them that if they find their soulmate, the one God has chosen for them, to treat them right, but to always love God first.

After all of that, I know deep in my heart that God will care for them. I know He will lead them, guide them, prepare them, and love them in a way I never could. His love is like a parent’s love, yet so much better and so much deeper.

I’m so grateful God loves my children more than me because then I know they will be alright in this world.

(I thought I’d add this fun picture we took on a vacation a few years ago. The laughter with these boys was contagious and a moment I want to remember long after they’ve been “launched”.)

 

 

13 Comments

  1. Cheryl Baldwin

    This was such a great blog! We had our grandsons for a week and they are 9 year old twins. My step daughter and her husband are not even starting to teach their boys the basics that you are instilling in your sons. She does everything for them and her consequences are very lukewarm. They have very few social graces. They are unchurched.

    When they are with us, we walk a fine line. We want to enjoy them for the short time but not parent them. We do correct what we see is unacceptable but we try to lead by example. They go to church with us. We say Grace before meals. We show them how to respect others and possessions.

    We are all not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I’d like a “redo” in some areas with our children. What is so awesome is we have a God who gives us grace and is always present.

    Reply
    • Rochelle

      Oh Cheryl…I feel for your heart and the conflict of walking a fine line. I think you did what you should’ve done: show by example. As they are around you, they will notice your heart for God. You’re planting seeds as they observe. I can only imagine how hard it must be, though.

      When our oldest had a campus tour, the guide showed us an apartment on campus. He reminded the kids that they would be responsible for cleaning it. (The dorms had cleaners come in to clean the bathrooms, etc) When we were walking away, a mom turned to me and said, “My son doesn’t know how to clean or cook or anything like that. I never taught him. I just did it for him. I don’t know what he’s going to do!”

      I’ve been guilty of that, too. Sometimes it’s easier to just get the job done yourself, especially as a stay-at-home mom. But I have had to fight that urge at different times to allow them to learn how to fold towels and make mac-and-cheese, etc. Am I perfect at letting them take care of a lot of tasks? Nope. Not at all. But I hope they know (and will know) some of these jobs.

      But again, most importantly, I want their faith to stay strong. I’m grateful my boys do have strong faith…I just pray it stays that way. So, this comment may sound like I have it all together and have done everything right with them…but boy do I have regrets. I, too, wish I could have “do-overs”. I don’t know any parent who thinks they’ve done it all perfectly. (Well, they might think that but did they really? I don’t know…)

      I can pray for your twin granddaughters and for your precious heart. Keep praying for them to come to know the Lord, even if it’s not through their parents. God works wonders and I know you know that. 🙂 Thanks for the message Cheryl. I really appreciate you sharing your heart with me. God bless you!

      Reply
  2. Michele Morin

    As a fellow boy mum, I hear your heart. My youngest leaves for basic training in a week, and I am alternating between running through all my mental check lists, and offering him up to God’s oversight and keeping.

    Reply
    • Rochelle

      Oh Michele…that one’s rough! I’m thankful your son is willing to serve our country for us. What a courageous man! I imagine I would be a bit panicky at this stage. Keep offering him up to God. At many points, that’s all we can do.

      One thing about basic training is he will learn so much! From the little I know, they will learn to make their bed better than we could ever teach them…as well as so many other tasks. I just keep thinking of the spiritual, emotional, and mental lessons I still need to teach my sons. (And one has already been off to college-it’s his 2nd year!) A mom’s job is never done.

      God bless you and your family as you send your son off! Be proud, mama!

      Reply
    • Connie Rucinski

      Oh how I feel for you and your big heart full of love and joy for your boys And a fierce love of God We know we can turn it all over the God but it don’t stop.us from trying to control the situation or things the boys will deal with no matter how hard we love and support I pray for you as you learn to go forward Love them no matter what Pray for them always I know God has His eye on you You are filled with love in your writing Keep your eyes on the Lord 🙏 Great things will come

      Reply
  3. Lisa Dean

    As a mom to two little ones—ages 5 and 3— I really appreciate your thoughts on what it’s like to launch your kiddos into the world. I’m taking note of all the things you’ve taught your boys and the very real way in which you’re entrusting them to the Lord. Your example is an encouragement!

    Reply
    • rochelleb@me.com

      I’m so glad it’s encouraging for you! There can be so much pressure if we let there be. I have a hard time “letting go and letting God” because of our loss, but I know it’s the only way. We’re all in this together and can continue encouraging each other, even with kids at different stages. God bless you Lisa!

      Reply
  4. Theresa Boedeker

    Yes. Teaching them about God, how to do laundry, and grocery shop. So many things to teach them. But they have so many instructions and how-to guides at their fingertips. If they can read, they can learn how to cook chicken, fix a sink, and how often to change the oil in their car. But yes, I want them to know so much more. I know I sure learned on the way of becoming an adult. A few things I am teaching is to love God, make mistakes and learn from them, make good decisions, and deal with consequences in a healthy manner. Not be selfish and think of others. Kindness goes a long way. Be confident and know they are unconditionally loved. I have to keep reminding myself that they will still have a lot to learn no matter how many years I have with them.

    Reply
    • rochelleb@me.com

      So true Theresa! No matter how many years I have with them (one is already finishing his 2nd year of college), there will always be something they need to learn. I wanted to focus my post on the character traits I want to instill in them, more than the achievements. 💓 But also how to navigate those tough situations. Some things there aren’t any true guides to (like when our son had cancer, etc), but if I can teach them to rely on God and be confident in their decisions, they can even make it through that! There’s so much…but knowing God is at the center for me.

      There were certain questions I always called my mom about…all the way until she passed (and I was 39). Maybe it was the fact that I still wanted to need her, but she always helped me. Never made me feel “dumb” fir not remembering the thirty other times she answered that same question. That’s the mom I hope to be. One my boys can always call…no matter what.

      Thank you for the comment and sharing your thoughts with me! ❤️

      Reply
  5. Nita

    I love how you share your heart! You handle this tightrope so beautifully!

    Reply
    • rochelleb@me.com

      Thank you Nita. I find sharing my heart therapeutic most of the time. Other times it’s scary! 🙂

      Reply
  6. Peggy B.

    Beautiful photo and beautiful post! I’m so sorry for the loss you’ve endured, and I am grateful for all you shared.

    Reply
    • rochelleb@me.com

      Thank you! I’m so glad you visited my site. Thank you for your sympathies. Even though it’s been quite a few years, sometimes it feels like yesterday. Just have to keep moving forward. God bless you!

      Reply

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