Every mom knows that as much as you are trying to teach your children everything they need to know to launch into the world, in the end, you learn more from them than you could ever teach.
Some of the lessons are less fun than others.
I think that's why you don't see as many blog posts about teenagers. Also, they can read. And be offended and/or embarrassed. But am I letting that stop me? Nope. Because this year I have learned a very large, very important, very painful lesson. And sharing is caring.
Ah, how to begin? I have a daughter...she is lovely. Ever since she was a baby her smile has been like sunshine and as she grew her quick wit kept us all in laughter. Like every mom, I tried to teach her all the things I thought would make her happy. One of those things, a really big one, was my religion. It has been the anchor in my life, my testimony of Jesus Christ has sustained me through the hardest times, and I wanted to gift that to my child.
But my beliefs didn't sit well with her. She has always had her own mind and when I tried to tell her how to dress, and eat, where to go and who her friends should be, and especially what she should feel and believe, well she just hated it. I did try to do it the right way, her Dad and I are pretty easy going most of the time. Sheesh, just writing this-it is so hard to explain. She didn't want to do anything bad, she just didn't feel what I feel, so everything else seemed like faking. She didn't want to have to fake it to fit in our family or have our approval. It made her mad and sad. Oh, and feisty.
I, on the other hand, felt that what we were trying to teach is true, with a capital T, and if I couldn't teach it then I was failing in my most sacred job as mother. So I wouldn't give up. In fact, it took God a lot of different notes for me to get the message. The message wasn't that I needed to give up, it was that I had already done what I was supposed to do, and it was time to let my beautiful girl's spiritual life be between her and Him. That was hard to hear.
The Spirit speaks to different people in different ways, it even speaks to the same person in different ways...particularly if said person is having a hard time getting the point. In my case it took at least three times before I could acknowledge to Marc what was being said to me. I guess to start I had a general "unease," a feeling that the path I was on (insisting that she do what I said because I knew it was right and I said it) wasn't really working (HA!) for us. Then one afternoon I was in 9 year old Ellie's class listening to presentations on California missions, and each and every one of those astute fourth graders listed the Catholic Priests forcing their religion on the natives as a "con" of mission life. And the Spirit whispered to me, "See?"
Then a few days later a really beautiful young mom, who I admire and know through my church congregation, was cutting my hair and telling me how when she was younger she needed to figure things out on her own and explore her own spiritual path. She said that the best thing her mother did was to support her in finding her own way. And the Spirit whispered again, "Let her be."
Later that week I told Marc how I was being directed and he agreed that we needed to rethink our approach. Then the penultimate message came while we were listening to General Conference, a world wide broadcast where the prophet, apostles, and other leaders of the Mormon church teach and preach twice a year, and Elder Larry Y. Wilson was speaking about parenting. He said this,
"We simply cannot force others to do the right thing. The scriptures make it clear that this is not God’s way. Compulsion builds resentment. It conveys mistrust, and it makes people feel incompetent. Learning opportunities are lost when controlling persons pridefully assume they have all the right answers for others."
It was like a light bulb (finally) went off in my head and my heart. This talk is parenting gold by the way, if you want to read it click here.
So. There. I have shared my journey. Judge gently my friends, parenting is tricky but worth it. I am so happy being mom to my own wonderful children.