A spring thunderstorm is raging outside our Georgia home at
5:00 this morning as I write this blog. My sleep schedule got
messed up and I’ve already been awake an hour.
Made my cappuccino; built a little fire, and contended with the fear of
our animals. Our two dogs and two cats
have probably been mothered around here too much. The cats got carried around like babies by
our four girls. So at the first sign of
a thunderstorm they’re all crying to be let inside.
Karen’s edict is that all animals save King Whimsy are to
live outside. Whimsy is an inside dog
only, because he is cute and somewhat obedient.
So, when nature begins to cut loose outside, all the excess
mothering turns out to have been counterproductive. These outside animals that have been
protected from the elements turn into jelly.
When I open the door, Chloe the cat is the first to dart in and take up
residence behind the washing machine, a dark and obscure place to weather the
storm. Abby the dog is such a baby about
storms that she once broke thru a window screen to get inside. She is allowed to lie in the washroom until
the thunder stops.
Here, I’d like to point out some parallels with raising
young people. When they’re toddlers,
it’s appropriate that they hide behind Mamma’s skirts. Mothers need to be in MAX PROTECT mode until
their kiddos wise up to the ways of the world.
As children grow and learn to cope with the antagonisms of the world
outside their front door, the protection of mamma’s skirts becomes unnecessary
and increasingly ridiculous with age.
When the storms of life howl against them, they need to master their
fear and grow up.
You’d think this would be obvious parental hard wiring. Animals everywhere know how to push their
adolescents out of the nest when it’s time.
But a great societal dysfunction seems to be becoming the new
normal. Young people everywhere are
breaking thru their parents’ window screen and coming back into the house. And everybody is more miserable for it.
Having raised our five, there’s lots we’ve done wrong, but on this score we’ve hit it out of the park. So let me be share a few secrets of our success: Around about the age 13, mothers need to stop preparing
their children’s lunches. At age 15 or
so, kids need to be getting part-time jobs and going on mission trips. Along the way, parents need to have taught
them the spiritual disciplines and invested them with the spiritual authority
they’ll need to survive the storms of an immoral and sometimes painful
At 18, young people need a gap
year in some place on the planet.
American young people are among the most parochial in the world. They don’t know what they don’t know. The greatness in them will only be released
only as parents learn to stand back and let them weather life’s storms on their
If you’re a young person dying to be trusted in this way,
the win/win is to prove yourself trustworthy. Then, when you’re a parent, you can pioneer a bolder
way of living with your own kids.