Tuesday, September 25, 2012

But on the other hand....

....you've got to know when to draw the line. 

Yesterday, I spoke of empathizing with young adults.  Being our "young selves" in order to see things through their eyes -- making it easier to both enjoy them and guide them along.

There are times, though, when we probably should just put our foot down.  These times are, hopefully, rare.  But, they can and do present themselves.

Here is a story from my own life that may demonstrate what I mean by this.

I was engaged to be married when I was 21 years old.  But, as the date for the wedding approached, the situation with my fiance became, shall we say, "problematic."  I am not going to go into all the details here.  It is really not necessary to do this.  Let's just say he was not entirely forthcoming about everything, and my mother was the one who figured it all out.  My mother is a clever and persistent person.  Those of you who know her can attest to this.

So, when my mother figured out what was going on with this guy, she basically cornered him, me, and a few other friends and relatives who were in the immediate vicinity.  She looked him in the eye and boldly announced what she had deduced about his situation.  Then she looked me in the eye and said, "You can't marry him." 

Now, a lot of mothers would not have done this.  A lot of mothers would have figured that I was an "adult," that I should be left to make the decision without any interference.  A lot of mothers also would have considered the facts (at least somewhat) that the nuptials were in exactly one week's time, all the arrangements for the celebration had been made, and guests were due to come flying in within the next few days.  Did my mother consider these wedding logistics?  Did she consider the money she was probably going to lose (and she did not have much of the green stuff at that time)?  Not in the least...  My mother put my welfare first.  She believed that if I married this guy, I would screw up my life.  And she was right.  And she was strong enough to put her foot down to me -- in the face of my heartbreak, my anger, and my 21-year-old "adult" status.

Now, my mother was taking a big gamble here.  I really loved this guy, and I was quite old enough to run off with him.  And I did consider this.  But, in the end, I knew she was right.  I knew it in my very bones. 

About a year later, I met the man who is now my husband.  He is, and always has been, quite popular with my mother.  When she first met him, she told me that he "has good skin and teeth."  These two things are quite important to my mother.  But, more importantly, she recognized his maturity and excellent character.  And he has been a wonderful husband and daddy.  I could not be more fortunate.

And why did my mother's bold move work out?  Why did I listen and follow her advice, although 95% of me did not want to?  I think it was because of what I reflected on in yesterday's blog post.  Most of the time, she was pretty hands-off, leaving me to make my own decisions.  Therefore, she had some rounds chambered, which she had available to her at a critical moment.  Doesn't the Bible say it?  "Parents, don't nag your children, lest they lose heart."  And if we follow this sage advice, maybe our children -- however old they are -- will hear us when everything is truly on the line.

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