Empowering teens versus abdicating parental guidance….

My wife and I already raised one daughter through adolescence, high school, college and graduate school. Every now and then I beat myself up over what I could have done different.  But one thing is for sure, we did the best we knew how to do and that included a lot of prayers and discernment on what was the best for her. I will never criticize a parental decision concerning their children – except when that decision is given over to the teen to make.

I am convinced teenagers desire structure, guidelines and parameters.  We have been entrusted by God to raise these precious creatures.  Sometimes, in fact many times, that means making tough and unpopular decisions on their behalf.  Choosing a high school is one of those life changing decisions.  I was flabbergasted by otherwise caring and intelligent parents and how they turned such an important decision over to the hands of a 13-14 year old.  Since when do they know at such an inexperienced age what is best for them?

I heard time and time again:  Well she wants to go to this high school so I guess it’s OK with me…… The other day I overheard a parent telling their teen:  It’s OK if you want to leave your current high school to go to another… The imortant thing is that you are happy….. Teenagers are not equipped to make life altering decisions.  Especially when there is a parent or two, with much more life experience available, to guide and give advice.

Imagine allowing a teen to leave a high school because it may be perceived to be  too difficult?  What happens when the next one is “difficult” as well?  Move them again??!!  One of the few exceptions I can think of is when the teen has an exceptional talent.  There are high schools tailored to specific talents.  I can see a parent collaborating with a teen on attending a high school because of a passion and/or talent the teen may have.

We have to be careful with the slippery slope of giving teens too much latitude on decisions regarding life.  We are on this Earth as parents for a reason, if not, then why are we parents?  Just leave the teens alone to go about life?  They will have ample opportunities to make mistakes and correct the same, when they become young adults.  In the meantime they rely on us to guide, correct, discipline, act as cheerleader, support and pray; to guide them along until adulthood.

May God give us the patience, wisdom, discipline and Grace to realize we have been given a great responsibility and blessing that cannot be abdicated.  It is ours to lose, in more ways than one.

Our Lady and St.  Joseph, parents of our Lord, pray for us!

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