by Joyce Davison
I remember reaching a crossroads with my four daughters, who are now grown, when they ranged in age from nine to seventeen years old. They were all great girls, however, they would, on occasion, get into activities that most kids try. Pushing the limits on their curfews, not doing their homework on occasion, being sassy, and even a day here and there of cutting school, were stresses I battled mainly with my older daughters during that specific time. There was also a friend or two that I didn’t think were positive influences. My girls were good, but I sometimes questioned whether I was strict enough. And at times I wondered if I was too strict?
I clearly remember the neighbors across the street who were much stricter than I was. Their girls had to leave their friends every day at exactly 4:00 to practice their piano lessons. They were also great swimmers and they were forced to swim every morning before school in hopes that they were going to the Olympics. I remember one day those girls rebelled and said, “I am never swimming again, and I am never playing the piano!” What a shame!
It was then I tried to create a place where my kids liked to be. “A soft place to fall,” as Dr. Phil says. I always believed in the essence of their goodness. I was always proud of them and I tried to be home when they were home from school. I remember fondly that my own parents were home waiting for me every day when I came home from school. I always felt that I was really important to them and that what I had to say was important. It always seemed like they were waiting for me to get home from school, so that they could hear all the details of my day. I remember loving that as a young girl myself. And so it became a natural vision I had for my own family.
Anyway, our church was sponsoring a well known child psychologist to speak to us as young parents. I went to hear what he had to say with all my firiends. That night changed my life. We were all waiting anxiously to see what this great expert was going to say to us to make us better parents, and what magical words he would say to fix our children.
He began to speak, and the first thing he said, with a big smile on his face was, “I bet you’re all wondering what I’m going to say to you, or what secrets I have to help you be a better parent. Well, I am here to tell you that ALL children lose their minds at about 13 and they get them back around 19 or 20. Your job is to get them from one end to the other without them getting hurt.”
He went on to say, “Pick your battles, and don’t sweat the small stuff.”
So many times I was helped by those words. I thought of those years when my children had lost their minds, and it was MY job to get them from one end to the other safely.
Today all of my girls are college graduates, married happily, and three of the four girls have children. They are all extremely successful, in love and in life, and they are also great parents. I am still unbelievably proud of their successes.
So good luck to you young parents. Just remember, Don’t sweat the small stuff, Pick your battles, and remember that it is your job to lead your children when they lose their minds.
Joyce Davison is the mother of four grown daughters and a grandmother of ten.