Parenting

Never Go It Alone

I watched as the children paraded through the lobby.  As they walked by, the teacher said, “Make sure you are holding onto your buddy’s hand.”  The older I get, the more precious the sight of a gaggle of preschoolers becomes to me.  Years ago there was a poem, “Everything I needed to know,  I learned in Kindergarten.”  As I treasured these sweet ones walking by, I began considering lessons we learn at these early ages.  Even this very simple precept, with its initial teachings in early years, takes us a lifetime to perfect:

The buddy system.

buddy system 2

We need one another.  The reminder of this need became more acute to me over a recent retreat I took with the women from my church.  We studied the topic of “abiding” together and we focused at one point on the verses in the New Testament calling us to “love one another,” “serve one another,” and “bear one another’s burdens in love.”  We drank from the Word like thirsty people after a long walk on a hot day and we were filled.

I have recently come to see that parenting is one place the buddy system is needed more than ever.  Though some of us are forced into situations where we must “single-parent,” not one of us should ever parent alone. 

My husband and I have radically different personalities.  Go figure.  I’m the Type-A, driven, planner who keeps one foot on the ground and the other envisioning life as it might be.  He is the pragmatic, calm, wise and systematic one who helps ground me and takes things more as they come.  In parenting we found our natural leanings to be different as well.  While I would more easily give a consequence for something our children did which was not acceptable, he would want to talk through the situation and assess the best way to shape their heart.  Neither of us were innately wrong.  There is a time for talking and for connecting heart strings.  There are other times for logical consequences which cause children to rethink their course.  We’ve had to work through our different approaches and study parenting experts {as well as getting to know each of our children more intimately} so that we can parent the best way possible. 

buddy system 4 with dog

Despite our differences, we need one another as we parent.  Not only do we need our partner – a gift from God to us, and often a gift to our children as we balance one another and give one another perspective in difficult situations – but we also need our friends and mentors.  Recently as we have faced the full blown entry into teenage years with our oldest, we have experienced the common sensation that everything we knew up until now must be reevaluated and definitely recalibrated. The adolescent years come with their own set of developmental needs.  Our son now is in the process of preparing to launch into independence.  While our parenting in his earlier years was focused on him at home, these days we see the time together under the same roof drawing to a close and we want to make sure he is equipped to go out on his own successfully.  He is road testing our values and all we have poured into him.  Someone once told me children are sponges until around age 10, when they begin to test out all they have taken in up to that point.  I’m nodding my head to that wisdom {and it causes me all the more intentional about pouring into our youngest before he hits that milestone}.  Of course we can take in new learning throughout our lives, but during the teen years, the doors to new teaching are less open than they were earlier in life. 

buddy system 4b

I have said it before and will keep echoing that my son is a treasure.  I’m biased beyond words, but he’s a gem – and he’s got way more on the ball than I ever did at his age.  Still, he’s growing up in a world where technology is booming, the access to crud on the internet is overwhelming {and you don’t have to seek it out, it will come uninvited}.  His peers are making all sorts of choices, some of them positive, some of them destructive.  He has to decide where he lands in all of this and we have to walk the fine line between setting healthy parameters and giving him enough room to test his wings. 

This is where the buddy system comes into play.

As I sat with a group of moms around a table for lunch, the subject of cell phones came up.  We discussed pros and cons, experiences our families had lived through and concerns we share.  We talked about how we had responded to various choices our children made or things which other teens are doing which impact our own teenagers.  As I got up from the table, I felt a bit lighter.  We have recently revisited our parameters for screen use at our home.  This whole era of deciding what is good and what is potentially a huge pitfall with regards to internet and social media is relatively new.  In years gone by, a teen had to go out seeking porn or had to talk face-to-face with others to engage in conversation.  With the advent of cell phones, internet and Wi-Fi hotspots at every gas station, coffee shop and grocery, the darkness and allure can reach our teens directly – even when they aren’t initially seeking it out. 

buddy system 5b

Sitting with these other moms, I felt the power of camaraderie.  The buddy system means we never go it alone.  We aren’t going to get lost because we have one another.  God provided us the gift of support.  In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, the wisest man in the world explains the necessity and beauty of companionship: 

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

All the way through this passage God is talking of two being better than one.  In the end He mentions the cord of three strands.  He, Himself, is the third strand.  We need one another to parent well.  Most of all, we need Him in our midst.  Don’t go this parenting journey alone.  Grab onto your buddy and walk the road together. 

buddy system 6

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