In my parenting I have never forgotten the story of one of my closest friend’s experience with his son. He swore his son would never wear an earring. When his son turned 15 years old he requested to wear one. My friend refused, holding onto his long-held position. Over the course of a few weeks though, my friend noticed the once close relationship he had with his son slipping away from him. They didn’t talk as much. The son didn’t come to him as much for advice. Something had changed. My friend realized that it was his refusal of the earring that had caused the interruption in the relationship with his son. He went back to his son, apologized, and the relationship got back on track. (Interestingly, the son didn’t wear the earring for very long.)
I am in similar days with my son Nate. No, he hasn’t asked for an earring, but it is his senior year in high school. He is fiercely independent, far more so than our oldest son. Most likely he will attend college far away and very soon be leaving home. I’m trying to learn the balance as his father between providing him the discipline and instruction I’m supposed to give as a father and the freedom and independence he needs, as he becomes a young man.
The line between extending freedom and controlling the actions of your child is unclear at times. I know many parents who have crossed that line too far either way, either controlling so much that the child rebels or giving so much freedom that the child runs wild. Frankly, I’m still learning. Recently I posted on my need for others to invest in me. This is one area in which I continue to need wisdom.
I know the right answer to give to parents. It’s to never cross the line so much that you lose the devotion of your child’s heart. Sometimes you may have to break their will, but you never want to lose access to influence over their heart. I just don’t always know how to use that answer when I have to apply it to everyday life.
What advice do you have? Do you struggle in this area of parenting?