Talking about college has become a recurring thing in our home. As parents, we’ve always been vocal about our hope our sons would go to college. And although J is only in his first year of high school, he knows he has to start early, especially because we’re expecting him to win scholarships.
Last Saturday, J brought up a few universities he is considering. He also asked questions about a college his dad’s co-workers recommended for him. We talked a bit, then I kind of digressed. I’m starting to realize I’ve become less picky about where he wants to go, asking only that it wouldn’t be too far from home.
So I started to talk to J about a few tragic stories in the news that resulted from underage drinking. Even as I recounted these stories, I found myself hurting once again for the parents of those young ones who lost their lives as a result of getting drunk.
Then I asked J to make me a promise. I asked him to give me his word he wouldn’t drink until he is legally allowed to do so. He promised.
Then I made a deal with him. Once he turns twenty-one, if he wants to try alcohol, he will try it with us there. I explained how one can never fully predict how their body will react to having alcohol in the system. So what better way to test the waters than with people who will keep him safe?
A promise made, a deal sealed. Yet I’m still very much aware of how things can get so easily forgotten. Especially once he moves into a dorm room. So I’ll keep praying fervently.
I know most parents forbid drinking alcohol, period. In fact, I know most parents prefer to hold up a list of do’s and don’ts and expect their children to abide by it. My sons have read that list as well. But the hubby and I know we also have to be realistic in our approach. #realisticparenting
STDs, alcohol poisoning, drunk driving, unplanned pregnancies. So many things to worry about. It all makes me want to wrap my sons up with bubble wrap and only let their brains absorb life, keeping their hearts and bodies intact. Believe me, if I could, I would ask that my sons finish school on time, find great jobs right after graduation, wait until marriage to have sex, and never taste a single drop of alcohol. Just to keep them safe. But that’s like wishing for the moon.
All these hopes I have for my sons are dependent on the choices they will make when faced with a beer bottle or a girl who’s willing to go all the way with them. And no matter how hard we try to influence them now, at the end of the day, they will do what they want to do, because our shadows no longer conveniently block their way.
Some parents see their kids as paragons of virtue. And if there is any hint of sin in them, they’re pretty confident it’s nothing regular church attendance and keeping the world at bay won’t cure.
I wish them success.
But I know better.
I know my children. Specifically, I know who they came from.
Their parents messed up, and will continue to mess up. Chances are, they will too.
So I think it’s better to anticipate the possibilities, and work from there.
I know some people think I’m way off. I respect that. But the thing with parenting is, you only get one go at it. With each child. And neither one came with an instruction manual.
A Bible verse says to train up a child in the way they should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it.
I’m taking this promise to heart.
I’m also choosing to go with my gut feeling, tempered by wisdom from people I trust.
We don’t have perfect children. But we couldn’t love them any more now that we would if they were. There’s room in this family for mistakes. And God’s grace for second chances when we fail.