Giving Teens Guided Freedom

The older I get, the more I am appreciative of my parents. I’m so, so grateful that they raised us with a strong biblical foundation, and that they taught us to listen to the Holy Spirit for ourselves. As my siblings and I got older, it was stressed that our main decision making criteria should be, “Does it honor Jesus?” We were homeschooled for the majority of our childhood, then went to a public high school.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but they placed a lot of trust in us, and we had a lot of freedom.

I am grateful that I experienced high school. I met kids from different backgrounds, and had a wide variety of teachers. I ran cross country and track, and learned to push myself harder than I thought I could. I participated in theater, and I use my acting skills every day in my customer service job by being polite to rude customers 😉 Even going to dances was fun. Yes, I was exposed to bad stuff-mostly foul language! Dancing could get dirty at the dances, kids talked about drinking, there were occasional fights, and every once in a while we smelled marijuana coming from a bathroom. But I (nor my friends) didn’t smoke or drink or cuss or dance dirty.

16 was the age when we were allowed to start dating. I started dating my first boyfriend during the summer between junior and senior year, and we never had a chaperone. Did we just sit in a parked car and make out all night? No! Our normal date night was going to dinner, and then walking around one of our city’s many parks and just talking until I had to be home. I will admit that we did kiss- but hands never wandered, we never went further than kissing, and we never spent a date just kissing in a dark parking lot somewhere- but boundaries in a dating relationship is another post for another day.

My parents trusted our choice of friends, and never had to meet them or their parents first (but of course they eventually met my friends). I had no interest in getting drunk or high or sleeping around, so I didn’t attract those types of people, nor did I hang out with them. My average Friday night with friends was going to dinner (usually Chili’s), then renting a movie to watch at my friends house, then just talking for hours. I didn’t usually get home until well after midnight, especially as a junior and senior, but my parents didn’t worry because they trusted me to make wise decisions.

I am glad that they encouraged me to continue my education after high school and to go to college (whether a college degree is worth the time and money is another topic 😉). I loved my political science classes and loved the conversations and debates we had. I loved how people from all backgrounds with all sorts of beliefs could come together and have discussions. Yes, I heard some nonsense from professors, but I knew what I believed and they did not cause me to waver in my faith one bit. Most wanted a well-rounded discussion that included all sorts of view points, and I never experienced a professor mocking a Christian’s belief at my state school.

Of course my siblings and I still made mistakes, pretty big mistakes to be honest! Remember that boyfriend of mine? He wasn’t a Christian! 😳 To this day I remember him as a great person, and he never even talked about pushing my boundaries, but he was not a Christian, and I should not have gone out with him. And in the interest of full disclosure, there was a time or two we watched a movie at his house when no one else was there. Big no-no! He never touched me inappropriately, and I knew he wouldn’t, which was how I rationalized it, but still- that was not abstaining from the appearance of evil! My parents freaked when they found out, and after a long talk, I acknowledged they were right and promised to not do it again. There was also the time my brother bought one of those Abercrombie and Fitch shirts that had a sexual innuendo on it. My parents were horrified and took it and refused to give it back or let him wear it. They also added “modesty panels” to some of my dance dresses, which I huffed about at the time, but I now see they were probably needed!

I don’t have kids, so to most people my opinions probably have no merit. And I realize that even in the 10 years since I graduated (😳), the world has become an even crazier place. I plan on homeschooling my kids at least until high school, because I do not agree with the homosexual and transgender agendas that are being forced into schools at the elementary level. But I don’t want to shield them from life and experiences and opportunities, especially when they are older. What’s the point of teaching children right from wrong if they are kept from every potentially problematic situation? I’m not saying that I will be like, “Oh, you’re on your way to the drinking party, son? Well I’m trusting you to not drink while you’re there. Have fun!”, but more of trusting them to decline the invitation to that party in the first place. I hope that when I have kids, I can trust them to hear the Holy Spirit for themselves and to make wise choices.

What do you think? Is it even possible to be to overprotective of teens? How do you balance keeping them safe but still letting them spread their wings?

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