Childhood Is Only for a Season
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Is your son ready for the real world? Vicki Courtney advises moms to encourage their sons toward independence and responsibility so they will be eager to leave home when it’s time.
Childhood Is Only for a Season
Vicki: Yes, we could go on and on. And of course, we walked a mile in the snow to school; right? [Laughter] We all did that.
You know, I, just this morning, read an article; it talked about parents tracking their college students to the point that there’s this Life360 app. Students joke about it; but they’re now holding college tuition over their heads saying, “If you don’t let me track you on this app, I’m not going to pay for your college.” It’s really gotten ridiculous.
You need to have your child—that’s the test-launch phase, while they’re still in the home—by the time they reach about 15/16 years old, you’re beginning to let them have independence. You are intentional about that test-launch phase; so that, when they head out the door, you’re not following them to college.
Dave: You know, that makes me think of another conversation—it just came to my mind—that we, as parents, need to have with God. We’ve talked about these conversations with our kids; it’s very critical.
Vicki: Yes, I like that.
Dave: But there’s a conversation, where we need to go: “God, I need to trust You. He’s old enough to be responsible; I’ve raised him well. I’m, in a sense, test-launching him. He’s in college,”—or whatever; and I need to go, “God…”—sometimes, you need to get on your knees.
I’ve done this; I’ve stood at the window, as they drove out when they’re 16—we’ve all done this—and looked up to heaven and said: “God I trust You. Who else can I trust?” That never ends. What a way to— that’s a conversation a lot of parents don’t have.
Bob: They’re going to make mistakes.
Bob: They’re going to do wrong things/stupid things. They’re going to get hurt. That's part of what God’s going to use in their life—
Bob: —just like it’s part of what He used in our lives; right?
Ann: Pain shapes us.
Bob: Yes, it does; that’s right.
Vicki: Yes, I love that. As mothers, it would be good to pray that we would resist the urge to rescue our sons.
Dave: Right, right.
Vicki: I found myself, in the college years—my oldest son, when he left, my husband did this thing—I’m pretty sure I share about it in this book—where he had our children sign a college contract. He’s an attorney; so there’s that, too, but you know. [Laughter]
But he did; he basically laid it out for them, each one, and said, “I am about to invest approximately blank-amount into your college education, and this is what your mother and I expect in return….” They had to sign the dotted line. It had parameters in place because this is a privilege—this is a privilege, and we did not pay for it full out. We did have them earn their summer—get their summer jobs—earn some toward paying for books and leisure activities.
He laid out: “If you're going to drop a class, and you’re going to take longer to graduate, your mother and I are paying for four years. Because once we hit the fifth year—we have to pay tuition; we have to pay for food—so you’re on your own that year. You will have to go and get a bank loan if you extend it past the four years.”
Same thing with grades: “If we see that you’re—basically, you’ve decided to party instead of study, then we’re going to go ahead and strike this: ‘The deal's off. You’re going to come home; you’re going to get a job. You’re not going to live at home; you’re going to pay to live somewhere else.’”
So they knew: “Wow! We better leave the nest and fly, because”—now, of course, we weren’t ogres in the sense, if they— both sons, I believe, came back and briefly stayed—I called it a “layover.” If you let them come back, they should be looking for a job; they should have a plan in place.
The problem is—for a lot of our guys, the layover ends up being a permanent solution. Before you know it, they’re 35; and mom’s doing their laundry, and cooking, their favorite meals, and going out and getting them buffalo wings so they can play video games. [Laughter] It’s just not—no, it’s not.
Bob: We’ve talked, really, about one of the main conversations today; and that’s the conversation that you need to grow up: “Childhood is only for a season; and if you’re 16, the season is ending quickly, if it’s not already over.” These are the kinds of things that, as parents, we need to be purposeful and intentional about.
Vicki, your book helps us, as parents, have these conversations. The book I’m talking about is Five Conversations You Must Have with Your Son. You can go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, to request a copy. Or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the website to order your copy of Vicki Courtney’s book, Five Conversations You Must Have with Your Son, go to FamilyLifeToday.com to order; or call 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, in addition to conversations we ought to be having with our sons, there are probably some conversations we ought to be having as couples to help make sure our marriages are strong after what has been a strenuous season for most of us in our marriages in the midst of what’s been a pretty crazy year.
FamilyLife® has put together a resource online called “Take Your Marriage from Good to Great.” It’s a free resource, and it includes a couple of online courses. There is one on conflict resolution and biblical principles for how to deal with conflict when it happens in a marriage. Four messages you can download and listen to, maybe, together: Voddie Baucham, Paul David Tripp, Juli Slattery, Dr. Gary Chapman. There’s a downloadable eBook that’s got conversation starters included. All of it is free. Just go to FamilyLifeToday.com and download the “Take Your Marriage from Good to Great” resource.
When you do, you automatically become eligible to win a trip to FamilyLife, sit in on a FamilyLife Today recording session, have dinner with Dave and Ann Wilson. We’ll cover the costs of your airfare, your hotel, your travel expenses, the dinner—all of it. No purchase is necessary. The contest ends August 14th. Restrictions apply, and official rules can be found at FamilyLife.com/good-contest. So take advantage of the content that is available; and maybe, we’ll see you at an upcoming FamilyLife Today recording session.
Then, finally, we hope every one of you will get a copy of my new book, which is called Love Like You Mean It. It’s a book about understanding love, biblically, rather than understanding the cultural view of love, which comes to us from pop songs and romantic comedies. The biblical definition is more durable; it’s more rugged; and it builds a relationship that, not only goes the distance, but where there is deeper satisfaction in your marriage.
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We hope you can be here tomorrow. We want to talk about what you do, as parents, to hold up a high standard with your kids and yet, at the same time, let them know that when they mess up—because they will—when they mess up, there is forgiveness, there is hope, there is redemption. Vicki Courtney joins us again tomorrow to talk about that. I hope you can join us as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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