Monday, October 20, 2008

Sometimes as you look forward, you pause to look back and see where the path has lead you, and it helps guide you on the path that lies ahead ... Today I had the opportuntiy to reflect on the past and future as I gave thanks for the present.

M and I have established two households in Brandon, and in the process have been able to create a civil and caring space for both of us to interact with one another, and for both of us to remain involved parents in the lives of our children ... and for that civility I am thankful. We may not be able to live together, but by remaining friends we have not dishonoured the 15 years of marriage, memories and life we shared prior to our seperation.

Today though I picked up a book at her house and began reading ... the book was :

I've reflected on the writings of Dr Mate previously when I discovered his book Scattered Minds, that wrestles with the many issues involved in ADD, something that is near and dear to my heart. But in this book, along with Dr Neufeld, Mate offers some timely reflection on parenting, and helping teens address and overcome the challenges of peer attachment (a deeper more persuasive and perhaps more dangerous form of peer pressure).

Mate and Neufeld offer powerful perceptions of the forces modern teens must confront and live with as they move through the world. Identifying bullying as a symptom of a wounded soul, and seeing the early on-set of sexuality among teens as an attempt to find the fulfillment that a healthy family with appropriate attachment makes entirely too much sense. The commodification of sex across the breadth of our society has taken something profoundly intimate and made it into a simple physical act devoid of love and care. It only makes sense that teens living in homes that lack respectful love and unconditional care would opt to find solace for the ache they feel in the "arms" of their peers.

As I read Mate and Neufeld's words I reflected back on the time I spent with each of my children and can say that I learned early enough in their lives to prioritize what was truly important. Board and committee meetings could wait, and functions where my children were not welcome, were not functions I needed to attend. Far from being perfect, I realize that I indeed missed too many birthday parties and school presentations earlier in thier lives because I had erroneously placed my job as minister ahead of my life as parent. Thankfully, the last two years have taught me that at the end of the day our job will pass away, but our place in our families is eternal.

As I watch my growing children move into the world and claim their independence, I can only hope that they are able to face and address peer attachment in a healthy and wholesome way. M and I have tried to be good parents to all three of our children, and to be present in their lives in healthy and affirming ways. Making a point of having our evening meals together, even now, has meant that the events of the day are discussed, argued and laughed over ... but more importantly, our children have a place to safely discuss what's happening in their lives and their world.

I hear daily the sad stories of children who lose thier way, and the struggle of parents who no longer know who thier kids are ... hearing Mate and Neufeld's words, I realize that too often parents are too busy, too selfish or too self-involved to spend time, energy and emotion on being present to their children in healthy ways. Time taken over a meal is a start ... time spent in conversation, or playing a silly board game is a continuation of what's important ... but being open to heart to heart conversations about the issues of the heart that are involved in growing up and finding one's way in the world is the core of a healthy life that can face and overcome peer attachment with minimal lasting damage to the young people who may erroneous chose a path of bullying or promiscuity to feed the aching hunger that lies within ...

Talking to your kids is a good start ... taking the time to really listen to what they are feeling and saying is the path to a successful and healthy relationship with them ... It may mean setting our own priorities aside, and having the courage to own up to our mistakes and our errors, but in the long run the relationship we build with our children will be undergirded with love and respect, and that alone will help our teens grow into healthy adults ...

Today I'm thankful for the children in my life, and I feel humbled by them and the joy they bring to my life ... and I realize I may not say THAT often enough to THEM ...

No comments: