Parenting is a weird gig. Just when you think you have figured out one stage in your child’s development, they morph into a more perplexing one. By the time they become teenagers, a once pivotal milestone like potty training seems almost trivial. After all, what’s a little pee on the kitchen floor among family?
As children get older, the mistakes they make can feel a lot harder to clean up. More is at stake, yet our roles as parents require us to say less. While this is warranted in the name of their growing independence, I can’t help but feel like the more freedom they have, the less I do. My expressed opinions, insights, and experiences are sometimes seen as unwelcome intrusions into the lives of my young adult children. I’m in a season of self-censorship where I try to say less in general and, more specifically, not say anything irritating. As you can imagine, this is a losing battle. It turns out that almost everything I have to say is irritating.
I call these the duct tape years of parenting, not because I sometimes feel like binding my beloved children with duct tape to make them listen to me. It’s because I realize I’m the one who needs restraint. I need to step back so that they can step in and manage their choices and responsibilities. Even though I realize how important this is for both them and me, I still struggle with what I mistakenly consider a God-given right to express myself.
Yet, when you really examine the life of Jesus, it becomes clear that he used few words to teach, minister, and heal. His emphasis was never on self-expression but on selflessness. He didn’t force his beliefs. He didn’t dictate or demand. He merely offered a path. Jesus gave us free will to choose whether we wanted to follow him. Sadly, duct tape is mentioned nowhere in the Bible. Jesus didn’t use his power to force but to empower us to choose for ourselves. While God hopes that we choose the goodness and light of love that he offers, he knows that not all of us will.