Monday, November 17, 2008

Would you still love me if...

My kids are a bunch of zany, silly teasers. When they are doing something really dumb, like making snorting noises or pulling their eyelids out ten inches from their eyes, sometimes I wonder if I really did birth them all (one look in the mirror answers that one!).

A funny game that has come out of all this craziness is what I call the "Would You Still Love Me" game. It goes something like this: Libby-10 is flaring her nostrils so wide that an elephant could crawl up inside. She says to me, "Mom, what would you do if my nostrils were stuck like this all the time?"

My answer (she knows it's coming), "I'd love you just the same."

"What if I talked like this [insert hiccuping noises] all the time."

"I'd love you just the same."

When Allie-15 has had hair issues, she's asked me (while highlighting or un-highlighting her hair), "Mom, what would you do if all my hair broke off 1/2" from my head?"

"Well, keep processing your hair so much, and that's a distinct possibility. But I'd love you just the same. Maybe I'd buy you a hat to keep your head warm, though."

"What if I was just really not very smart?"

"I'd love you just the same."

When the whole thing about Sarah Palin's daughter's pregnancy came out, though, the game took on a more serious tone: "What would you do if I told you I was pregnant?"

Allie, Libby and I had all been standing around, joking in the kitchen. Now, suddenly, there was a palpable silence in the room. Sheesh, I should have known this would be coming. And as much as I knew this was supposed to be a rhetorical question, there was just enough questioning in Allie's eyes for me to be caught off-guard. I looked at my beautiful girls - one already a teenager - and felt the pang of reality hit me.

Allie stammered, finally, "I...I think you'd be mad at me."

Oh. My. Gracious. How come this one is not in all the parenting books? How on earth do I answer? No, I don't condone the behavior, but once it's a fact, what do you do?

Now, granted, I have no doubts as to Allie's commitment to purity. We have talked ad nauseum over the years. (Remember this conversation - over two years ago - where she asked me what I would do if she kissed a boy?). But this year - finally - I see that it has truly become her own conviction, not just mine.

And although Libby hasn't been on her Passport to Purity weekend with me (we'll do it this spring), she is watching Allie carefully. I see her convictions becoming cemented in, even though she doesn't really understand it all yet. And wouldn't you know, she has a friend whose college-age sister just had a baby. She's already watched this whole scene played out in real life.

I paused.

"Mad? No, I don't think I'd be mad." The girls' eyes were glued on me. Now look who's stammering! Ack!

"I think when something like that happens, you'd be so disappointed and upset at yourself, that my being mad at you isn't going to help things. I'm sure I'd have a lot of mixed feelings."

There was noticeably less tension in the air as the conversation went on. Was it the relief knowing that Mom wouldn't bring down the hammer? We talked a lot about how much responsibility a baby is, about God's intention is for people to be married before they have babies [I wanted to keep it simple because Libby was in on the conversation].

"But we also know that He forgives all sins, not just the little ones. He always gives second chances. So would we. Besides, it's not the baby's fault. Babies are a gift from God, no matter what. It would be hard, but I know we'd get through it."

Then, because I knew exactly what words they wanted to hear most from me, I kept going: "And I'd love you just the same."

These are the questions I asked myself in that post two years ago. They are worth reviewing today, maybe even more so now.
  • Am I parenting my children with grace and forgiveness, even with their daily, small failures?
  • Am I showing them a picture of a God who doesn’t wait for us to ‘get it together’ before He loves us?
  • Is my relationship with them one that encourages them to turn toward me, and not hide their failures from me?
And my prayer has not changed:

Lord, when my children fail, let me be as the father of the Prodigal Son:

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

Luke 15:20
*********
Resources that are giving us courage to talk through these TOUGH issues:

Passport to Purity (my experience), Family Life (sorry the links are all bad - here is where to find it on the Family Life website. Search on "purity"):

Passport to Purity

Also:
True Love Waits
Parenting Today's Adolescent and Interviewing Your Daughter's Date, by Dennis & Barbara Rainey
Pure Excitement by Dr. Joe White - Dennis is reading this out loud to Neal-13, and I'm reading it to Allie. Be prepared - it's direct! Better from us than from someone else, though, right?

20 comments:

Mothership said...

At 15, my sister told my parents she was expecting. Because of the way my parents reacted, the never-before-so-needed parent/child relationship continued and was strengthened. 18 years later, my sister and her husband are still, not just married, but thrilled to have one another. Their daughter is 17, in college and incredibly grounded. She knows about her conception and has no doubt about her parent's (and grandparent's)love for her.

If my parents had reacted differently to the news, my sister's life could have turned out so differently.

Of course, you would love them just the same. How else could either of you survive such a big deal?

Bekah said...

After reading your post I looked around for P2P. It looks like they don't make it anymore:(

Do you know of somewhere that it is available?

Tricia Goyer said...

Thank you so much for this post! As a former teen mom (who had my son at 17) I can say that it was the people in my life who loved me who made ALL the difference! I accepted Christ because of the love some women from my grandma's church showed me!

Also, I haved a book for teen girls to help them script their futures. I think your girls would love it. It's titled My Life, Unscripted (Thomas Nelson). If you email amy@triciagoyer.com I'll send you a copy just because I appreciate your post!

Tricia Goyer
www.triciagoyer.com

Katherine@Raising Five said...

Bekah, I have NO IDEA what's going on - maybe they are updating it, since all the "about" information is still on the FamilyLife.com website. I will see what I can find out.

ET @ Titus2:3-5 said...

Katherine,

The saddest thing happened (oh, I see others discovered it as well) - the P2P curriculum is no longer available!

As Bekah asked, any ideas on where to find it now?!

Katherine@Raising Five said...

Okay, I found it on the website - it's packaged as a "boy" or "girl" package ($24.99). I updated the post to include the links. Yea! I would be so sad if they stopped publishing this!

Love,
Katherine

RobinD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susanne said...

This post made me cry. It was so beautiful.

mholgate said...

You handled that so well! I can only pray I am so wise when it comes time for talks like that around our house!

Sara at Miller Moments: said...

I love your posts about P2P with your kids - and I'm grateful to know that you're planning a weekend with your 10 year old this next spring...

but my question is HOW have you gradually introduced your children to the world of s*x? My daughter is in 2nd grade, and I know it needs to be addressed - but where to start? Even my 5 year old kindergartner son came home talking about someone using their middle finger - how do you explain such things to young ones?

I love your willingness to share your parenting with us all! Thanks so much!

Maureen said...

I was a teen Mom. I gave birth to my son at the tender age of 18. He is now 19. I do not know what I would have done if my parents hadn't loved me just the same. Watching my dad cry as I told him the news and seeing their disappointment was so hard. But they forgave me and loved me, loved my husband and my baby.

Now I am the Mom. My 19 yr old is a GOOD kid. Never in any trouble. Last November on the way home from a friend's house my son made a terrible mistake. He was speeding and lost control of his car. He hit a truck head on. The driver of the truck was not wearing a seat belt and died at the scene... and I love him just the same. Mom, I accidentally killed someone, do you still love me? That is the question at our house. My answer, Yes I love you just the same. Heavenly Father please forgive this young man as I have.

NO matter what mistakes our children make and how angry we are with their behavior, I believe we should treat them as Christ would. With open arms full of forgiveness, mercy and most of all LOVE.

Thank you for allowing me to share.

Loving all 5 of my children,
Maureen

beckylou said...

Thanks you so much for this post. My kids aren't over the age of 6, but I really loved your questions.

and how funny that my word verification is shines. :)

Piper Paradise said...

I just wanted to tell you how much I love reading your blog. You always bring a tear to my eye and a smile to my face!

Bekah said...

OH, Thank you SO much for updating the links. I was reading your post and planning out the weekend with my daughter and then...I couldn't find the P2P package anywhere. I was so sad. So thanks again for tracking it down for me:)

Ginger@chirgies said...

Wow. God gave a you an amazing answer for your girls! We'll be here before I know it. Thank you for all the resources! I picked up the Body book about a year ago after you made reference to it and I read some more reviews.
Thank you!

Becca said...

What a beautiful post. Seems like yesterday my daughter was a baby. She's now 7 and I know these questions are just around the corner.

Jamie @ Purposeful Pursuit said...

Excellent post! I linked to it:)

bass family said...

Thank you for this post. It was challenging and encouraging all at the same time! My oldest is only five, but it's already a struggle to find a balance between not letting her get away with things and not having her choose to keep things from me to avoid the punishment. This post really made me think about the foundation I'm building now for the future. Still don't have many answers! But I appreciate your wisdom and insight SO very much!

Jen @ Rolling Through Looneyville said...

Oh Katherine, that's the perfect response!

I hope I can react with grace and love if my daughters come forth with that kind of news. I pray every day that I can parent them with the grace that I'm given. They're only 3 and 7 months, but I have to start now...

And it's really hard.

Thanks for the encouraging post.

Amanda said...

Sitting down by the fire and wrapped in a blanket, I am weeping reading your words with three inquisitive daughters asleep above me.
Beautiful, thanks to Beck for sending me here.