Friday, February 22, 2008

Family Matters

I read this story last night in about a mom "on strike" because her kids wont mind, and several questions immediately came to mind. I had planned last night to blog about it today, but then read the morning news first and noticed that it had become top headlines news at when the boys got violent towards reporters arriving to do a follow up.

You can read the story for yourself, but the gist of it is this: the teenagers are out of control, the house is a mess, they wont listen and help out and she's tired of it. They give her little or no respect and so she's staying away and letting them fend for themselves. For that reason she was arrested and charged with neglect. The four boys are between 13 and 17.

Now, I don't know this family and don't know any more about their personal circumstances than anyone else that can read those news items. Some questions that immediately came to mind:

1. Where is Dad? The article doesn't mention him so that could mean he's either deceased, or they're divorced, or maybe even never married and never a part of the boys lives. It could mean a lot of things, but the most obvious is that he's not around and not a strong (and good) influence on these boys.

2. Where is the church? No mention in the articles if they belong to a local church where they might have good male models in place of dad not being in the picture.

3. Bad Boys Overnight? Nope, kids don't wake up one day so completely out of control that the mom runs away from home. By the time kids are teenagers, if they've been given liberties and freedoms to have/do/say/act however they like all their young lives, this is the face it often takes by the time they're teenagers. I've seen it so many times, and no matter how often I see it, it still breaks me up. Parents who are liberal with their kids when they're little NEVER expect them to "turn" on them like this when they're teenagers, and they almost always do. (I'm not saying the fault lays at the feet of the mother here, I don't know that.)

4. Bad Mom Overnight? Easy excuse. For all I know, this woman has been a dedicated mother from day one. She could have been raising these boys with a strict set of rules and expectations. Sometimes, even with all the right foundations in place kids just turn out like this. It happens, and it even happens in Christian families where good, godly, strong structure and infuence have been in place since the crib.

When I read this story, I could relate in some ways with this mom. In the first article I read "she was fed up with being run over in her own home". Now while my kids don't run me over, I can relate to the "fed up" part. Sometimes I feel that way when I look around and see toys, dishes, dirty socks or whatever else it happens to be that they discarded and left laying there. They all know better but they do it anyway. Several times a day I have to get their attention and direct them to the things they've left laying around and have them clean up after themselves. In addition, like the mom in this news story, at least once a day I have to grab my stripey shirt and whistle and play the referee when two of them are in a monumental crisis with each other that will surely cause WW3 if left unchecked. I have to step in and be the voice of reason, logic, grace and mercy. I have to remind them of the right way to handle things, as opposed to the fleshly way. No question about it, it's a demanding job. I'm thinking of switching the whistle for the kazoo, just to bring some levity into the situation. It's a little hard to want to brain your sister or be furious with your brother when you hear kazoo coming from the other room, and headed your way.

Every mom (and many dads, I'm sure) knows exactly how this feels. Moms of teenagers know it all too well. It is a fact in every sense of the word that once most kids become teenagers they become aliens and their reasoning and rationale skills in many cases are about as sharp as a fresh bowl of oatmeal. Please notice I did not say all teenagers. The ones that don't act like this are our heroes and we dearly appreciate that they didn't turn out like that. The ones that do, we love them through it, pray them through it, and pray ourselves through it. For the record, yes, I was Alien Oatmeal Girl and my dear mom will attest to that.

The thing is, you just don't give up on your kids. Sure sometimes you have to walk out (to the other room, to collect your thoughts, calm yourself down, pray, or cry) but you pull up your socks and you get yourself back in there and you steer them and guide them back onto the right road. Then you get up tomorrow and you do it again, and again, and again. You just don't give up on your kids, even when it feels like it's all a waste of words, a waste of energy, and a waste of time. And yes, sometimes it does feel like that, especially when they're in Oatmeal Head phase... but that's when they need a voice of reason and a solid structure, the most, because that's when the ungodly influences on them will tempt them the most.

Being a mom is one of the hardest, and one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. My mom never gave up on me (although she was tempted, I'm sure) and that was a great example for me.

Yep, it's time to bring out the kazoo. Every mother should have one. (and a backup, when the kids lose it then deny ever touching it, seeing it, or knowing where it is)