I’m a “fix it” mama. Sibling argument? I’m there to mediate. Upset stomach? I have medicine for that. Shoes have a hole? No problem. I can buy new ones. Difficult homework? We can figure it out together. (thanks to YouTube tutorials)
Yep. I was pretty good at the whole “Mom to the rescue” thing up until my kids entered their pre-teen/teen years, and then it all came to a screeching halt. For the first time, I was faced with things I had zero power to fix.
Broken heart? I couldn’t mend that. Hard time making friends? I couldn’t produce friends like a new pair of shoes. Poor body image? Have you ever tried to change the way a person views themself? I was at a loss on that one too.
Then there was the time...
he didn’t make the team,
she didn’t feel pretty enough,
she was searching for purpose,
he/she drove away by themselves for the first time (and every time after that),
she saw the mass on the cat scan,
he suffered from anxiety,
she felt depressed,
he/she was living in the consequences of a bad choice,
she was processing hurtful words from a person I had no control over…
At some point, I took my “Super Mom” cape off and embraced the fact that life had suddenly become a lot bigger than Band-Aids and notes in their lunchbox – a lot bigger than me.
The teen and young adult years aren’t just hard on kids. They’re hard on moms and dads too. They can leave us feeling as left out and not good enough as they do our kids. We have less time with our teen and young adult kids because they naturally want to hang out with friends, they’re driving themselves to practice, they go to work after school or they live in a dorm 2 hours away. And because we can’t just fix the things they’re going through, or even know all the things they’re going through, we can feel like we’re not doing a good job as a parent. It’s clearly a wrong way to think as I type it out, but I have felt it nonetheless.
For these reasons, I have never prayed more for my kids and myself as I have during their teen and young adult years. Prayers that in the past I would keep to myself I now share with close friends and ask them to pray with me. (Boy does it help to know others are going through the same thing.) My prayers have become more desperate – a heart crying out because it needs God to do what only He can do.
My prayers have become a continuous conversation versus just during my quiet time or before my kids go to bed. (That whole “pray without ceasing” thing… yeah, I get it now.) I find myself praying in my car a lot and as I’m falling asleep. There are even times when I park my van and pray over my kids’ day as I stare at their school (even though they drove themselves earlier that morning). I’ve prayed on my front porch as I’ve watched my older two leave on a date. (Watching my son drive off with someone else’s baby girl or a boy I kind of know drive off with my baby girl triggers intense prayer time!) Sometimes I text my kids what I am praying for them because the days of kneeling by their bedsides are slowly fading.
I will always pray what our family has said since they were preschoolers. “Love God. Love people.” It’s really all we’ve ever wanted for our kids. It’s what has hung over our front door for probably 15 years now. It’s what I would say to them as they got out of the car when I dropped them off at school.
But as my kids have grown, now ages 20, 18 and 15, so has the prayer list.
I now pray for the person each of them will marry,
that my kids will be the one as they wait for God to bring the one,
for healthy friendships,
God’s guidance as they pursue college and jobs,
God will protect their minds and hearts as they live in the world but not of the world,
they will love how God made them,
trust God’s plan when things aren’t going “right,”
make wise choices,
have the courage to be who God made them to be,
and choose joy in the midst of confusion and hurt.
Along with my prayers, I continue to encourage my kids to talk to God. Only now, instead of prompting them to thank God for their food or say a prayer before bed, when I see their hearts are heavy I’ll mention something like, “Why don’t you drive down to the lake and spend some time with God?” Or I’ll ask, “Have you talked to God about it?” I know that as important as it is for me to pray for my kids, it’s just as important that they go to God on their own behalf.
I’ll also share with my kids what I’m experiencing as a parent. I’ll tell them I wish I could fix it but I can’t. But what I can do is pray, and I am praying. I remind them that God loves them, even more than I do. He has a plan and the power to do all things. I trust that God hears me and in His perfect timing all things will honor Him. I tell them God’s way is best and I want God’s best for them. (I need to hear all these things as much as my kids do.)If you find yourself in a place where “all you can do” is pray for your kids, please know you are doing something very powerful. It’s not an immediate fix like the things we used to do when our kids were younger, but our words are being heard by the Creator of all things, the One who loves our children more than we do, the One who has the power to heal, mend, restore, defeat, resurrect, provide, protect, guide, counsel, change – anything we need, God’s got it!
Keep praying, mom and dad.
Keep sharing your prayers with those closest to you.
Keep talking to your kids about what you are praying.
Keep encouraging them to pray.
Keep trusting that in God’s time He will have His way.