Recently, my kids and I starting watching the old TV series the Wonder Years thanks to Streaming Netflix and the Roku box. I remember watching it as a kid and I used to have a big crush on Winnie! Now that I'm older and my kids are at this age, it's amazing how clothes, technology, and fads change but the fundamental challenges and excitement of these years are similar regardless of which decade you grew up in. I wanted to take a minute and give everyone an update on my own parenting progress and how we are dealing with this ever changing atmosphere.
First, let me frame some context.
My son is now 13 and my daughter almost 12. Since we strive to have a Grace Based Home, it's constantly filled with kids. I'm talking anywhere between 2-10 kids in our house at all times when our own kids are home. This of course means are grocery bill has doubled and we are constantly running a taxi service shuttling anyone and everyone from sports, gymnastics, youth groups, social events, and dates on all days of the week. When we first moved here 3 years ago, we started by talking 2 other kids, besides our own, to a Wednesday night relational ministry youth gathering. This number is now somewhere around 12-13 and we've split it into two cars/parents. I just try to remember the words Tim Kimmel once said, "If all the kids are at your house, that means you're doing something right."
Let me digress...Of these 12-13 kids, some of them come from tough homes with little to no parental involvement or guidance. However, over the past 3 years we have seen a huge change in these kids ranging from better grades, greater character development and a greater respect for authority. Two of these boys spend a considerable amount of time in detention or the principles office at school but when my 5 Foot, 105 pound wife says something, they listen. We have seen a miraculous change in a lot of kids in our area and this can only be attributed to the Holy Spirit working his magic.
Back to the update, My son is one year into his Legacy Dad process which at this point includes reading books on Character, Historic Role Models and other Iron Shaping topics, he then journals his own thoughts and feelings on what he is learning and we discuss these topics. He has also been given more freedoms to include a cell phone and checking account to manage. Within this year, he has faced many tests both large and small mainly dealing with morals, ethics and peer pressure. To this date, he has yet to fail any of these tests or choose a less desirable path.
And speaking of dates, he now has a girlfriend, actually his third. The rule in our house is no dating alone until they are 16. Which means they have to be in a group or with parents when with a girlfriend or boyfriend or on a date. My son also had to go through an interview with his girlfriends father and her uncle prior to being allowed to date her. This is the same thing I would do with my daughter and I agree wholeheartedly with this approach. With the girlfriends, comes hormones and greater talks on sex which by the way is not easy to get a 13 year old to talk about.
To sum this up, my son is in what I would call the Page Phase. We are showing him what Right looks like, enforcing the standards and still holding his hand a bit in decision making. However, he has also been given a lot more flexibility/freedom or rope to either do the right thing or hang himself with his own consequences. So far, it has been successful.
This stage will continue for another year until he turns 14, at which time he will move to a more practical life skills phase or Apprentice Squire phase.
Later this year, we have two large events scheduled. One is a deer hunting trip for my son and I in which he will (hopefully) take his first Buck. The second will be some sort of extended outing in the wilderness and will involve him facing his fears and overcoming challenges. I'm still working out all he details of this one.
My daughter turns 12 this summer and see will begin a similar journey, although hers will be more tailored to the feminine side and my wife will take the lead on many of these issues.
Overall, this process is working very well as we constantly get good progress reports from teachers, coaches, mentors and other parents. Time will tell but so far our Legacy Dad Process is off to a great start.