I was on one of my morning walks the other day. I live in an area that is so beautiful and getting out and walking is more appealing than the treadmill in my basement. As I was rounding a corner I noticed a woman who had just finished running and was stretching. She was doing some very odd stretches, contorting her body in weird ways. I had not really ever seen a runner stretch this way after they were done with running. She looked strange for sure but she didn’t seem to care who noticed, she was doing the right thing for her body and made no apologizes for it. I give the girl props! As I passed by she got me to thinking. How well do I do the right thing, no matter what it makes me look like? Am I too concerned about my image or comfort level? As a mom of teenagers there is a different element involved with raising my kids that wasn’t a consideration when they were young. Other kids parents!
When my kids were little, it was normal that kids were home at dinnertime and not to go out again for the night. I wasn’t questioned when my child couldn’t go to a certain movie or sleepover because of family commitments or something of the like. But when my kids became teenagers and began driving things morphed. With greater independence came greater pressure to succumb to what other parents were allowing their children to do…or not do!
Many times I have found myself as the unpopular parent who requires something different from other parents. But just because there is more pressure in the adolescent years to conform doesn’t mean that I have to also conform. In Romans 12:2a I am challenged, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world.” (N.I.V.) This means in how I remain vigilant as a mom to my teenagers to show them how to not follow the patterns of the world and choose God instead, even if it is uncomfortable to them or me.
Let’s be honest for a minute. When kids are teenagers parents often find they have more independence too. If your child has a car or gets rides from friends your time is free for other things. On days off or during the summer kids like to hang out together instead of being at home giving parents a false sense of freedom. It is so easy to take the hand of the wheel because you think your child is no longer in the car with you. The truth is, you are no longer driving the figurative S.U.V. with your child strapped snuggly behind you. You are now operating a train and they are in one of the cars. You may not always see them or know they are there but they are on your train. If you don’t assume the job as engineer your train could get off course or worse yet, derail.
I have felt uncomfortable in certain situations where friends wanted my kids to join them in things that I didn’t think was a good idea. They had freedom to do so because they either didn’t have to tell their parents or their parents didn’t think it to be a big deal. I can’t stop being a Jesus-following mom just because of these sticky situations. I have to realize that sometimes I will look weird to other families when I seek to do the right thing. Jesus said, “Everyone will hate you because of me.” in Luke 21:17 (N.I.V.). He was referring to what people who don’t follow Him and revile Him feel about those who do. Although this is maybe more extreme, it is fair to say that parents feel a certain amount of peer pressure, especially when their kids are teens, to conform. And when we don’t conform not only do our kids complain but also other family’s gossip. I’ll be honest; it affects my thinking and how I make decisions for my kids. I don’t want to be the weird or uncool mom. But the bigger question is what do I want more, to provide Godly parenting and leadership for my children or to fit in with the norm?
So back to the woman doing weird stretches after her run. She unknowingly became a visual for this very real tension in my life as a Christian mom. I wish for myself that I could care less about what other people think of me and more about what God thinks of me. So to the unknown, unnamed lady I want to say thank you. God used you to remind me that doing the right thing matters more than how I appear to others.
Author Bio: I am a Christian, wife and mom who writes about life as I experience it. I really enjoying studying the Bible and passing along to others how God speaks to me from it. I live and write from Michigan. Although life keeps me pretty busy I also take time out to do other things like preparing food endlessly for hungry kids and for their sports' team dinners or providing leadership for volunteer roles at school. I also have a passion for music and am blessed to be able to serve as a worship leader at surrounding churches, as well as, my own. I love any kind of creativity so my home studio is either filled with voice students or my latest painting. There is something about "process" that I resonate with, perhaps it's the idea that God is constantly moving and creating in me a new life. You can find me on the web http://motherswithteens.blogspot.com