Teens are a Blessing
I have the unique experience of being the "Bad Influence" mom and the "Good Influence" mom. You know them. First there's the one that I DON'T get close to because her kids would not help my children's morals. (B.I. mom) Then there's the mom I DO hang out with because her kid's behaviors are good. I want these to rub off onto my children. (G.I. mom) Both moms have fine traits and are friends, but I seem to have more motivation for closeness with G.I. mom for my own benefit. I have been the both B.I. mom and G.I. mom.
My husband and I are in our early 50's, been home educating our children through the last two decades, and have made some unpopular decisions concerning our household and child raising philosophy and management. Our first two sons had problems, left home young, leaving parents heartbroken. They busted-out, resentful and angry. Almost everyone told us that we had better relax our vigilant parenting mode. They'd say, "Better change it up. You're 0 for 2!" (Helpful, I know.) We fell on our faces before the Lord and called out to Him. He told us through His Word to be faithful and obedient. We kept on. It's been ten years since that happened. Now we have another two boys and a girl who are adults, still live in the house, and are G.I. kids. Now I hear praises from friends. They say, "You're such a good mom. You've done so well!" I tell them, "There are plenty of horrible parents who have great kids and vice-versa." There has been little change in how we parent; yet we have two different experiences.
Like I said, I have people complimenting me. But before you do, please know that I have five teens/young adults and one pre-teen in my home. They all work hard to make it happen. I have learned that the common thinking is that if I have that many teens in my home; I must have lots of problems, not lots of blessings. Think again. I'm really blessed with their influence in my home. I'm very blessed with good relationships with my two B.I. kids also, which proves it's not the end of the story for them or for us!
So what have we done since then? We communicate our philosophies and faith clearly and early. As my husband and I grew up, we understood how much more we needed to communicate not just the rules, but the motivation behind the rules. Honestly, if we don't have a passion for the way we're living, how can we expect our children to? We got specific. We were individual with each child. We wrote out a document and regularly communicated what adulthood would look like within our four walls. In Two Cents from your Parents, we frequently explain policy and motivating scripture/philosophies for courting, driving, cars, responsibilities, marriage, etc.
The result has been that our kids have advance warning - their parents aren't going to participate in the Christian party-line philosophies that run rampant. We are different, so our lives must exemplify that difference. It's tough. Ever since the Vision forum scandal, home educators have thrown off some great teaching and we feel the pressure to cave. Christian diligence, self-control, and personal humility are still good gifts to teach your children, and all those traits are not going be learned by letting them do more of what they want, or all that other Christians think is right for them.
God's Word is true. I must put off the world and put on all the things of the Spirit. I must teach, as well I can, these things to my children no matter age and now grandchildren. Helping them understand my motivation is helpful, but not the fool-proof plan that will create beloved G.I. kids. (Satire intended.) I will continue as long as I have breath to help them and respectfully guide them as a mentor. Now that they are adults, I will impact that adult life with guidance, wisdom and courage that comes from a seasoned believer in Christ.
In the end, we am not responsible for our adult child's decisions. They reflect God's work in their lives: not ours. If Christ is missing, they will be B.I. If He's alive in them, they will be G.I. It's true that you can't give your faith to your kids. It's also true you can't keep them from the faith they were meant to have. God calls our children through hard times and consequences of disobedience. Sometimes suffering and trial is what our children need to find God. If that's so, I say, "Bring it on!" 2 Thes. 5 says " This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering". I don't know about you, but I want my kids to be considered worthy of the kingdom of God. One son confessed to me that he had to run away to see if there was a place where God wasn't. He found his answer through that trial. Maybe your B.I. needs to find out something similar.
Be faithful, obedient and long-suffering to the work that He has called you. Their story isn't finished and you still have work to do. He is sovereign over all this and more. He will keep you in perfect peace. And you know what? We all are still growing up and becoming all He plans. Take heart in the good and the bad. You're free to follow God and leave the results to Him. God is still God.