Yesterday my daughter wanted to drive to Starbucks before school. She is 16 and has been driving since June. The Starbucks is less than 5 minutes from our house and even has a drive-thru. She was ready for school in plenty of time to go, so it should have been a simple decision for me, right? Wrong.
The first subconscious thought I had was about syrup. That’s right, syrup. Have you ever watched those baristas pump syrup into your salted caramel mocha? Who needs expresso with that much sugar spiraling through your system? When I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease a few years ago I learned how detrimental the effects of sugar is on our bodies and minds. I never want my kids to go through what I did during that time and we already consume too much Starbucks without proposed visit. My second subconscious thought was about the intersection. There is a busy four way intersection with multiple turn lanes by Starbucks and it was 7:30 a.m. 7:30 a.m. The time when all the other caffeine and sugar addicts would be going to Starbucks, or to work or to the gas station across the street from Starbucks. Why can’t she just drink Mountain Dew like I did when I was in high school? There were a few other subconscious concerns floating around my head as well which made the seemingly simple question quite complicated. When you are the mom, especially a mom with a magnificent propensity to worry and try to control everything, no question from your teenagers is a simple one. But by God’s grace, as I felt my shoulders creeping towards my ears from the stress that this simple question had generated, I remembered to pray. Having kids, especially teenagers, has really enhanced my prayer life. And after a quick call for help from the Lord what came out of my mouth utterly surprised me (as it usually does when the Holy Spirit is doing the thinking instead of me).
I told my daughter to do what she thought was best. No subtle recommendations. No lecture. No guilt. No trying to control. My friend Mary Beth once told me that as often as I could, when the stakes aren’t life or death, to always ask my tweens and teens: “What do you think?” When they ask if they can go to Starbucks before school or if they can wear shorts when it is snowing and the outcome of their choices will not likely involve bailing them out of jail or the ER, let them make decisions. For some moms that is easy. For anxious, controlling moms it’s not. But I am learning that my irrational fears and attempts to control everything are detrimental to my kids’ confidence, maturity and decision making (and the stress, premature aging and excessive and unnecessary graying of my hairs isn’t helping me much either).
“Dear Lord, thank you for the wisdom of my friends like Mary Beth who teach me simple things that by your grace, I sometimes remember. Parenting is not an easy job but Lord but I am so incredibly grateful that you taught me years ago to lean into you. Thank you for teaching me to pray for wisdom and discernment because I am too tired, too scared and too overwhelmed most days by thoughts of syrup and intersections to make the best choice for my kids. I love that you know and deeply care about my heart’s desire, to make the best choices in order to help my kids. Thank you this time for reminding me that sometimes that means letting them make those choices. Help me to trust you and trust that your love for my kids is greater than my love for them. In Your Name, Amen.”