Three days ago one of our sons defined a crush as “a girl whom you like more than others — someone whom you find nice and have fun with, and they are not your relative or cousin.” When I found out that this same son actually had crushes I was totally caught off-guard. It was such a shocker, I had to run to the bathroom where I hid my face in a towel and cried for a little bit. It sounds silly, but I was pretty surprised that he was starting to find girls attractive. Attractive is a strong word, but the point is that he was noticing girls and that he was aware of his feelings for them. Sigh. When did this happen? How did this happen? I thought of different people in his life, friends, taekwondo classmates…could they have taught him about crushes?
I was feeling very reactive inside but God calmed me down. He also made me realize that this wasn’t something to make a big deal out of. And just the day before I had given a lecture to parents that defined responsive versus reacting parenting. This was God’s way of making me apply my own seminar! Practice what you preach!
I praise God for my husband, Edric, who was there to listen to our son, acknowledge his feelings and opinions, and gently guide him with biblical principles. (Oh, and kick my leg under the table several times so that I didn’t say the wrong thing.)
In the end, even if I felt crushed that my little boy had crushes, we were able to turn the situation into a wonderful discussion about how to relate to girls — how to treat them with respect, to be kind to them and to protect them like sisters. We also talked about getting to know a lot of other people and not spending too much alone time with girls. Of course we included that finding girls pretty and wanting to spend time with them was natural. God designed it that way. Praise God our son listened to us as we advised him and we became closer to one another.
Even though it wasn’t easy for our son to share with us his feelings about girls (he actually felt a little bit embarrassed), he talked to us first and not his friends. I’m emphasizing this because when our children feel they can come to us first, it gives us the opportunity to present the right perspective.
My lesson for that day was, don’t panic when your kids go through their many unsettling stages of growth and maturity, but be present and take the time to talk with them and continue building bridges to their heart.
As parents we need to continue bridging that relationship between us and our children. The bridge must be so strong it keeps us openly connected to our children and them to us. At any point, they can confidently cross over and share what they want to and we can cross over to their side — to speak to their hearts, to influence them with godly wisdom. The bridge gets stronger the more time we spend with them, the more available we are to them, the more positive we are with our parenting style, the more we pray for them, and the more we demonstrate unconditional love and acceptance. When the bridge is broken by hurt, disappointment, distance, they naturally build bridges to others. But it can always be rebuilt.
How? By proactively asking for forgiveness for the ways we have wronged them (I have had to do this several times with my kids for impatience and irritation) and to ask them how to improve. Just be ready to change and be humble about it because it is not always easy hearing a child tell you what’s wrong with you! But by God’s grace, everyone can change for the better. Believe it or not, change is one thing a person can do until the day they die! 🙂