Last week, my two youngest children turned fourteen years old. Yes, twins. And yes, twin teenagers. In addition, their older sister — and by “older” I mean only nine months older — is also fourteen years old. For the next three months until her birthday, I am living in a house with three fourteen-year-olds.
Holy hormones, Jesus come quickly.
In all seriousness, there are many things I love about these years. This isn’t the first time my husband and I have raised teenagers — our oldest three boys are twenty-four, twenty-seven, and twenty-nine. We’ve been here, done this. And there is much to love about watching your kids grow into adulthood. Even so, it’s not easy. And it feels a bit weightier than it did ten to fifteen years ago. The world is different than it was then.
For their birthday, our twins finally received their long-dreamed-of cell phone. You could say we’re old-fashioned. We don’t allow our kids to have cell phones until their fourteen birthday, a way for us to preserve their childhood a little longer and ensure they have the maturity to handle such a responsibility. That means, turning fourteen and getting a phone is a big deal in our house. Exciting and fun, yes, but also serious.
Tonight, my husband and I sat down with our kids and went through the boundaries surrounding their new cell phones. We spent quite a bit of time talking about the power of words and pictures and the long-lasting consequences of what we text and post and say, both positive and negative. Then we had them read through the printed contract spelling out those rules, all thirteen of them. To fourteen year olds, these restrictions felt unnecessary, even rigid and controlling. They didn’t like it one bit. And that is precisely why we spent some time explaining why it matters.
My husband began our conversation by reading these words:
“I understand that the rules below are for my safety and that my parents love me . . . I understand that my parents want to give me freedom, while also giving me enough security to make smart choices.”
Freedom. With security.
I restrained a smile, knowing that although my children would sign this document saying “I understand,” they don’t, in fact, understand. They may read the words, hear the words, even acknowledge the words. But at fourteen years old, they only understand the smallest fraction of the apprehension their dad and I feel about all that could potentially go wrong. Life experience has taught us some hard-earned lessons that guide our use of our own cell phones. We know our kids don’t yet have that experience or maturity, but we’re hoping they trust us enough to take our word for it, even if it feels like we’re being unreasonable.
So we set some rules and hold our kids accountable enough to keep them safe. It is the boundaries — and their respect of them — which will provide them the freedom to enjoy the gift, without suffering painful consequences. In short, the restrictions are fueled by love.
As I sat at the kitchen table listening to my husband read the contract and watching teenage eyes roll, I thought of how many times I have, likewise, felt God’s boundaries and guidelines for my life to be unreasonable and rigid. Is God determined to keep us from having any fun? Is He a micromanaging control-freak who loves nothing more than to keep us under His thumb?
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,
and do not resent his rebuke,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in.
Proverbs 3:11-12 (NIV)
Freedom with security — they go together. And they are sourced in God’s love for us every single time. That is the beauty of our Father’s boundaries. Boundaries fueled by love are the only way to feel truly safe and free. The only question is: Will you and I trust Him enough to follow Him?Leave a Comment