There was a time that my little boy was just that, a little boy. When he got older and entered the years of passage towards adulthood, I was thrown for a loop. It really was both of us who came to this time of transition with a little bit of shock.
Lately I have heard your stories and I have heard your heartache, mamas with preteen boys. I don’t have all the answers but, can I tell you our story?
I think there was a time in the life of our firstborn where he realized he was growing up. He didn’t say it specifically, I don’t think there was any distinct day or ceremony when the realization hit but there came a time that he changed. I noticed that we began to clash. We homeschool our children and he stopped wanting to learn from me. It didn’t seem that he was struggling with the academics but, it was a battle of the will.
When I shared with a friend about this new territory we seem to have entered, her reply to me was, “Oh, he is trying to establish his manhood is he?” Hmmm… that was an interesting thought. What exactly does that mean and is that good or bad? Well, what she said made me step back and look at him with the intention of figuring him out. With my husband’s help, I realized that he was just at the point where he was a child becoming an adult. He was understanding that we were in the process of passing the baton onto him and that he would be directing his own choices in the future and perhaps he was feeling a bit uncomfortable.
Though I wish I could tell you that this was short lived or that I had a revelation and an immediate plan, I didn’t. The truth is, these preteen years are ones that you have to navigate a bit on the fly. And it is not a preteen month… it is years. Some days my boys of this age are playing swords, video games and needing to be sent to the shower. Then on some days, they take on the responsibilities of a man and mow the lawn, replace windshield wipers and cook dinner for all of us. What I learned was to give them grace and to encourage them in the place that they were yet, still challenging them to reach a little further into maturity. The moms who I have been hearing from are in the middle of these challenging years and the advice I give you is to persevere. Stay in it for the long haul knowing that there is a new stage right around the corner. You will make it!
nounper·se·ver·ance | \ ˌpər-sə-ˈvir-ən(t)s \
Definition of perseverance
: continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition : the action or condition or an instance of persevering
Since we never know what exact thing will become a passion in our kids, we want to try out many. In high school we signed Caleb up for the homeschool debate team. Our local club researched and argued public policy issues. This we found was a challenge but fascinating for our son. A year after he graduated from our homeschool we found out that he was very active in conservative online political groups. He had a blog and was so fired up about a certain topic, he had been noticed and was invited on a local talk show to discuss his point of view.
As I made lunch for my younger kids, I was blown away by the young man I was listening to on the radio rattling off facts, figures, laws and voting records. The radio host several times in the interview said, “This is the best written piece I have read on the subject”, “I cant’ believe you’re 19”, “so you are a homeschool grad?” and “This is a thorough piece, you have hyperlinked everything”. It was the repeating of how well it was written that confounded and delighted me the most. All of these years, as I was homeschooling I had considered my schooling a failure. I had always thought that I had not done enough and that I had failed my child. The truth is, I am pretty sure we had NEVER completed even half of a formal grammar book. But my son was a fantastic writer!
What had brought us through the years of challenge and struggle to him coming to full adulthood? I believe that the words of Matthew 6:33 are right. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…. the rest will work out. In the years of academic struggles we kept academics secondary and building Biblical Worldview and character first. We knew that there would come a time that he would find a passion for a particular subject and at that point, in this age of vast information, he would have no trouble honing skill for that pursuit. We knew that if we focused on the Word of God and following Christ, he would have established the core and foundation for his life that would propel him to excellence in whatever career he would choose.
As I write this, Caleb is 5 years post graduation. He works with my husband in our family business. Daily they work through decisions and challenges. Andrew says that he is the best employee that he has ever had. Caleb is solid in his faith and commitment to Christ. We are proud of the man he has become and though his younger years were a challenge for me as a mom, we made it through.
Moms, you are the right one for the job. It may be difficult but good things often are. God had a perfect plan when he brought your son into your home. Our culture, our families and academia say that we must achieve within a certain method and to a certain level to carry out a successful adulthood. Do not be fooled, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10). Let this be your foundation and be free of the worldly expectations