Like most parents, Gary and I have desired that our children would grow into responsible and honorable adults. We have not always known how to accomplish that and even now question if we are headed in the right direction, but have found guidance from listening to our instincts and gleaning from those that have gone before us.
When we have considered different areas of our life, we have found no example of consciously going backward in order to go forward. When a baby learns to crawl, its next natural step is walking. I have never seen a baby that has learned to crawl to voluntarily decide to just give up crawling to sit in a crib or baby carrier all day. In looking at career development, I don’t think in the years that I worked in Corporate America that I ran into a manager that requested to go back to an entry level position before heading to the Senior V.P. Office. That is why it seems so counter-intuitive to encourage development in our kids through childhood and then allow them to veer into a period of laziness, under-accomplishment, and disrespect that our culture has come to label as “being a teenager”. Where did this come from?
Our family uses the Word of God to make as many decisions as possible and gain insight when things don’t seem cut and dry. Nowhere in the Bible do we see evidence of a God ordained period called adolescents. This alone has caused us to pause in working through our family’s perspective on those years when our children are transitioning from childlike behavior and thinking into adulthood.
In the end, we have concluded that as human beings we generally form our expectations of ourselves more times than not by what others expect of us. For this reason, we have chosen to expect our children to continue progressing toward adulthood in a consistent manner. It is a training up time to try on adult level responsibility and thinking gradually in preparation for having families of their own to lead at some point in the future.
Our son, who is pictured above, just went hunting this past weekend. He is fourteen years old and has come to love the outdoors and hunting. However, it is not just the thrill of the hunt or the challenge of getting a 10 pt buck. Zech has come to understand the power he has as a man in being able to literally feed his family. When he has a successful hunt, we see his confidence soar. He proudly field dresses and then assists in butchering the meat to put in the freezer knowing he has had an active role in taking care of his family much as his father does. In preparing for this time, many valuable lessons have been learned about discipline, respect, and responsibility.
Similarly, his sister is also seeing the rewards and achievements associated with not just settling for a lackadaisical attitude during her teen years. This past summer she found out that she was not going to be able to go back to the volleyball team that she has played for over the last several years. She was greatly hurt, disappointed, and a bit at a loss. As she adjusted to this new reality, we challenged her to not only make a lateral move to a new team, but to make a vertical move. We encouraged her to use this experience as a springboard for greater things. And that is exactly what she has done. She has found another high school level team to play for, but exceeded her own expectations by becoming certified as a line judge for NCAA Women’s Volleyball Matches.
Like her brother, she has come to find that this new adult role fits her well. In her journey so far, she has discovered that many are shocked by her presence at such a young age among the officials at college matches. Her professionalism and maturity have gained her the respect of not only her fellow colleagues (who are all adults), but also the coaches and players.
We are so incredibly proud of our children and their accomplishments. They are really catching on to the rewards they experience both internally and from others as they reach beyond our culture’s ever lowering expectations of young adults and rise above to greater things.