I just finished reading GQ’s article on Billy Ray Cyrus. Not because I love country music. And I can take or leave the Hannah Montana TV show. But our family loved (and still loves) the show Doc, which Billy Ray starred in in the early 2000’s. I was curious to see what he had to say.
I found the whole interview heart-breaking. Truly heart-breaking. Here was a man with lots of talent who had made a lot of wrong choices. But I think the following quote on parenting is probably one that can teach all of us something:
“How many interviews did I give and say, ‘You know what’s important between me and Miley is I try to be a friend to my kids’? I said it a lot. And sometimes I would even read other parents might say, ‘You don’t need to be a friend, you need to be a parent.’ Well, I’m the first guy to say to them right now: You were right. I should have been a better parent. I should have said, ‘Enough is enough–it’s getting dangerous and somebody’s going to get hurt.’ I should have, but I didn’t. Honestly, I didn’t know the ball was out of bounds until it was way up in the stands somewhere.”
If you are the parent of any teenagers, I would imagine you have struggled with this issue. To be a cool friend or to be the irritating parent. Because it is really difficult to be both. There is this innate sense of wanting our kids to like us. And, yet, ironically, the more we cater to that desire, the less our kids do like us.
Instead of a rock in the storm, we become someone who shifts our position with every slight change in the wind. Do we do this because we truly think it is okay? No, most of the time, we will bend our position because we don’t want them to be mad at us. We feel like giving them an answer they don’t like will cause them to not like us.
I have found myself in this position many a time. And I have chosen both ways. I can honestly admit to the following–
When I have gone against my better judgment and allowed something that I knew I shouldn’t allow, I have always been sorry. Sometimes it is just for a moment and sometimes that little thing I allowed turns into a bigger problem. But, in contrast, when I have stood up for what’s right and not allowed something that they truly wanted with all of their heart, I have always felt great. And if you believe that, let me tell you another story! Actually, that doesn’t always feel so good. Sometimes I feel like I absolutely did the right thing. But many times I second-guess myself. Occasionally, I even change my mind. And, sometimes, I should change my mind.
And that’s where the friend part comes in. We need to listen to our teenagers. Listen to their side of the story. Listen to why they want to do what they want to do. And then let’s take them to God’s Word. Often, we would still stand by our decision as parents. But that was often after lots of discussion. Teenagers need reasons. And, as they get older and mature spiritually, gradually put some of the final decisions in their hands. That way they may make mistakes on the little things and hopefully be preparing for bigger decisions.
If I can do anything before my kids leave this house, it will be to instill in them accountability to GOD. If they think they need to please me, then they will do what they want when they leave. But if they realize that God is always with them and they are living to please Him, rather than to live by some man-made set of rules, then one of my main goals as a parent will have been accomplished.
As the decision-making becomes more my kids’ responsibility and less of mine, the friendship grows. See, the friendship comes later. Trying to be friends with your 13 year old is a big mistake. But hang on a few years. If you hold your ground with your 13 year old, your 20 year old will be more of a friend. I can only imagine that the friendship continues to grow as they grow into an adult, and then perhaps even a deeper friendship as they become parents themselves.
Thankfully, whatever happens and wherever we find ourselves right now, God is gracious and loving and can work beyond our mistakes. So, just keep praying for your kids and trying to find that balance. And don’t get tired! Make sure your teenagers know that you are there for them and that you will keep God’s standards in your family, no matter what is going on in their friends’ houses!
Note (2/24/15) I wrote this almost exactly four years ago now. Since then, Miley Cyrus has went completely wild. I am truly saddened over that situation. How much worse her situation is now than it was even then. How her parents must mourn over her choices.
We, too, are at a very different place– one birdie has already spread her wings and flown away and two more are making their plans to fly this coming summer. Only one birdie will be left at home come September. Our kids are certainly not perfect and they make mistakes, but my husband and I have a good relationship with them and with each passing year, we do see a friendship that grows as they become adults. We, too, continue to make our share of mistakes and certainly lay no claim on perfection. We would both say, however, that we have never regretted standing our ground and providing boundaries on entertainment choices, activities, and friendships. If anything, we feel like we left way too much of the world invade our home and would probably change some things if we could do it over.
And so let’s remember– strict boundaries without explanation are the cause of most rebellion. Permissive love without boundaries also leads to waywardness. Only boundaries placed with love is a winning combination when it comes to parenting. My prayer is that this will encourage you to stand strong in biblical conviction, but with so much grace and love.