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Setting Your Teen Free to Soar

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Cross Radio
May 23, 2022 6:00 am

Setting Your Teen Free to Soar

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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May 23, 2022 6:00 am

Carol Kuykendall and her daughter-in-law Alexandra, describe some of those feelings—anticipation, excitement, turmoil, grief—and how you can work through those. With personal stories and some practical tips, they look at the homestretch to prepare your child—and yourself—for their launch.

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I am just wondering. Mothers and fathers who are going through this and getting in their window that is coming, that the best is yet to come. That letting go of your children and helping them become confident adults is the bridge to the very best season of parenting and that is to be friends with your adult children.

That's Carol Kirkendall and she's with us today on Focus on the Family along with her daughter-in-law Alexandra Kirkendall and DeRosa spokes president Dr. Jim Daly, thanks for joining us on John Fuller a job when your oldest Dakota left the old man snuck up on me. I was so excited. We got to the airport because the flu dues school he was going through and I was so happy for him and the sense of dread came over me as well because I realized I'm saying goodbye to him right now. I'm always going to be saying goodbye to him in some capacity. He's never going to come back and just it's never to be the same. So was really mixed my mixed emotions. I think that's the way it is at minutes happy and sad all the same time a member trip moving out. He moved into some college apartments last year and that was really crazy just feeling that you're on your own now you were here for you, but you're excited but also it is a moment. It's a demarcation of a change in the relationship and hopefully the things that you've done to pour into that child. Whether it's you know a son or daughter that the fruit of that is going to take root and I'm really proud of Trent.

I think he's done a great job in Troy. So homies during the gap years of working to be working on that over the next year to see where he's in a go to college or something vocationally, so were looking forward to it, but I think this speaks to so many parents today because you especially mom's if I could speak directly to you watching Jean and this I mean your doing everything as that little child grows and you're taking care of that little baby and then elementary school and junior high and high school and all those things that you gotta do to comfort that son or daughter. And then the day comes walking out the door and so many moms you know you can wrap your identity around being that mom and now you're going to move to an adult adult relationship. That's tough, but were going to discuss that today with two very good guess yet we have some really practical insights into this phase of life. When you launch your teens into the adult world and a Carol Kirkendall has raised and launched three adults. Her son married her daughter-in-law, who was with us Alexandra and Alexander and her husband recently sent their oldest off and so I think it's kind of a fresh tolerance that yeah so both of these ladies are quite accomplished and written a number of books today were talking about one is written by Carol and is called give them wings preparing for the time your teen leaves home to a terrific resource get a copy from us here at Focus on the Family. The details are in the episode notes Carol and Alex welcome to focus again. Thank you in a while. Carol said she has been a lot but it's great to have you back and that let's get into it because we only have a few minutes so when a child moves out of the home, whether it's to go to college or start their vocational future. It's exciting and it is frightening, what John and I were bantering about a moment ago. Why did those feelings hit us so suddenly we know it's coming at me. It's good to be 1819. Roughly you might have some late bloomers that have to hang on for economic reasons, but 1819 20 there pretty much to be out of the house so why why is it a sudden shock to us as parents.

Well, I think that we do see it coming there pivot points on the land long like the first time your childish goes to preschool that that's a pivot you go with the child that you have volunteers for the first time you leave your baby and the church nursery nursery does need to have those flashes that that I think when a child gets to high school age, I call high school the home stretch of parenting and there is lots of lots of pivot points and getting a drivers license and getting the phone that probably came earlier but all those things that give them more responsibility that our adult responsibilities. So I really felt it mostly through high school felt like this is the road you're on, and what is real is that your family will be changed forever.

That doesn't mean it won't get good will get to that.

It's that moment that you realize. I mean I remember walking into the kitchen when Derek was just eating cereal at the breakfast.

This is Alex's husband. Yeah I know makes it sort of awkward mother made it out on. I know it's not right. This is back when he was still eating cereal in high school at the kitchen counter and I just suddenly started crying because I realize that would be a whole in the setting for the rest of Jesus freak him out LOL no actually was a tender moment. As I walked over and gave him a hug and said I'm sorry I just sometimes have to hug he said I know mom. Well that's that's really the next question which is you know letting go is actually a good thing but it can be so hard. I think to. I'm sure every generation feels this where you're saying no to let my child go in this culture, with all the problems. I'm sure that was true of the 60s and 70s and the 80s and you get the picture. There is that fear if I could call it that you're letting your little baby go into this brutal world, but but they've got to do it and you can't smother them right. Alex yeah it's trusting that God has come before them that God is with them and it is scary just open your phone or look at the headlines and you know this world is a scary place and that panic. You can feel in that moment we sing the buy of did we doing math did we prepare this child enough and I think for parents. Yes and no because we've all done the best we could do and we've been faithful in planting seeds that truth and hope in them and we have to trust God to work in them as they go out into the world and you can always do more. So there's that feeling of yes and no and trusting God in that you let that out in the discussion quickly so that mom's and dad's can put themselves at ease.

I think Jean and I talked about this boy, if we could have a do over. We would be such a better parents in so many ways I think most earnest parents would say that you don't do everything perfectly.

It's the first time you done this is the first time you've learned to let go. You may not do it well were here to encourage you to do well but speak to that care. What were some of the things that you learned in that letting go experience that parents right now that have high school kids need to hear well your unfinished when they leave home and that's a reality that the application of what they've learned is now going to have an opportunity to be put in practice and so the first year for someone who leaves home. I think they're learning more than they learned there's their senior year in high school because they're having to apply it in a way that's very different from when you're at home and you do have to pay the electric bill yeah and if I'm Bill, what have you.

Yeah I know and and that I can find what I need by going to the refrigerator or the cupboard so somebody has to put that stuff get so to say that your son went to his first rental home. Is that what it is that well originally now is running from a friend okay, but then they do have to start figuring all those more adult type responsibilities so you get as part of the process yes is part of the process and I just think for the family at home, which is feels hard to recognize that were going to be different and I pictured one of those children's mobiles that hangs over right. If you pull one of the characters out of that. I mean it just goes like this is unbalanced. It's totally unbalanced but it comes back to a place of settlement and white.

What we all learn is that we get better at home and they get better away from Carol. In fact, with Derek Alex's husband. You said in the book. God give you one question yeah what was the question that I find referring to the what you're referring to. I was really mad at God, that he had given us family and we really tried to love each other the way that he tells us to love each other and then you take someone away. Why is that the way the plan for a family and I realized in perspective that he doesn't take a child away. He changes the shape of the family and so that helped me but I have a feeling you might've had a different question that is at the I think the thing that you refer to a little while ago those points will become due. Alex and SQ and those pivot points.

I think there's obvious once you send them off to school.

That's a big one. The license is a big one their cell phone is a big one. What are some of those other points that you notice with your kids yeah where it all kinds of stages because if a 10-year-old 12-year-old 16-year-old and a 19-year-old all, everyone is in a process of letting go in well as parents were letting go in different ways and we have to pick age-appropriate ways for them to separate from us and for us to give them more responsibility. So just this month we had our 16-year-old decided she didn't want to try out for the high school soccer team and we as parents were disappointed because she's a great athlete. We thought it would be good for her, but she had reasons why she didn't want to and we decided as parents. Okay, you're at an age where this is a decision that is up to you and we will support you. Either way, even though we had opinions that were different from the decision, she is going to make it wasn't a safety issue so we could allow her to have that case to make that decision and then we also had some parameters around okay this is how you need to use your time if you're not using it this way so you're still guiding her in that she allow our kids to make decisions that are bigger and bigger as they get older has been a learning process what you're reinforcing critical things that parents need to do point of adolescents and I think we had Dr. Ken Wilber's on the program. He wrote a really good book called feeding the mouth to bite you later teenager love the title. But this whole point there is you hand over responsibility in those years and you don't take it back so that's another go to get the room clean the go to do whatever they need to start functioning as adults before they leave home so that they can function as adults when they leave the home is hard for me because as a mom I want to take care of my kids. I love doing it, and I know that the time is limited, so with our oldest daughter, she left for college in the fall that her whole senior year I kept thinking this is the last time I'll have a chance to do this for her son. Happy to do it for her and my husband was a little bit more like you need to stop doing that for her so that she can practice while she's at home and we can coach or how to do some of these practical things so sometimes in a family to there's appearing his a little more willing to step in and do things for kids that they can do themselves and another parent has a little more. Let's push them to work towards independence and sometimes it's that mom, dad, dynamics what we all seem to come from big families or have big families like you do.

I think there's a difference with Bertha River to John your firstborn. I am on the last born, but I think the first horns get a lot of attention right parents or jump and ends the first time we clean up the nook. Every time he falls out of their mouth wash it off, but the last born. What I mean parents like whatever you fend for yourself three years old, make my own hotbox, but there is some of that to the birth order for sure yet. My mother used to say you have to throw away the first one John that it is true that you you learn you learn from the experience and it's a good thing because raising children. You have to constantly change the way you love them and show your love for them and you have to stop at those pivot points. That's where it's a good place to say what we can do with it. Getting a phone. What's the responsibility. What are the new rules that we check in with that.

So were always changing the way that we love our children effect in the book you mention planting seeds, that's God's responsibility.

Ours is to nurture the seeds I could think of that in both directions, but explain more what you're getting. Well, being a woman who was blessed to have three children from pregnancy. I have a great deal of respect for the creators role in that and allowing me to be part of the miracle that I will remember for the rest of my life that so when he's knitting together. This baby within a mother. I believe he's planting seeds and that we are trying to find who he made this child to be, and respecting that and parenting in a way that helps to grow those seats and that they're different.

You know the children we have are all different so we have to be the tiller of the soil to use the right kind of fertilizer and really encourage this child to become who God made why like the reinforcement of knowing each child uniquely because there isn't blanket parenting can just use an approach you know your kids well enough to know their back just like the Scripture says and to train them, raise them up in the admonition of the Lord.

This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly and today our guests are Carol Kirkendall and Alex Kirkendall and the carols were the book, give them wings.

It's a Focus on the Family resource and would be happy to tell you more.

Stop by the episode notes for the details or give us a call 800 K in the word family eloquently direct this when you trip mildness is now 21 he said something really big that caught my attention.

It was really kind but he said that she was so fun to see our relationship blossomed into like adult adult discussion. I thought that was really cool that he notices I'm trying very hard to treat them differently. Now it is out on his own.

It changes your daughter's kind of the in that same age ranges, transfer of you have that experience were I guess to fold one. The relationship is different and how do we as mom and Bab relate to our children and that different time of life. Yeah, the relationship is different and if we try to hold onto it the same. It's just not go well because they know it's different. They've changed and we changed as they've left the house. I've heard it said that kind of the young adult years are coaching years. If you put on the role of coach, then you are coming alongside a person young person and saying I see you doing this well this is really great and have you considered trying it this way, and those gentle coaching approaches rather than the parental authority approach works better because it's age-appropriate and so that has helped me just even that term coach has helped me as a mom say okay and I coaching her or my trying to over parent her and I think it's really important to have open discussion about the member talk in turn and asking him how how do you want to move forward.

If I notice something you want me to just tell you or how you want me to approach this and he said Yala and I deftly want your permission to speak into my life and it's just good to have that open dialogue with them and say you know things are changing your now on your own. I got to see you differently or not just my son. You'll always be my son but now you're an adult and I've got to. I've got to look at you differently. So how do you want me to know. Talk with you in those ways sought I would just ask yeah and and I think for parents and kids come back for Christmas break or summer break. There's that adjustment.

F8 had all this freedom and you're not used to them having all of this is not the true and so having an honest conversation thereto in the way we've approached it, especially as she was a senior, and we knew she was starting to get ready to leave the home and then as she's come home to say we still worry about you. So consider us here housemates be as respectful as you would with your housemates as far as letting us know what time you expect to be home. Text me when you get home so that if I wake up at 3 o'clock in the morning. I know that your home I don't have to get up and check your room can think that I think having that expectation early on and then modeling. I don't stay out till all hours of the night not tell daddy like he knows where I am. It's that respect that we also model as other adult and I think it of course, some herds are going well. You don't have my son, my daughter, we realize some some difficulty in some of his relationships and things are going on culture has grabbed her child and you're trying to cope with that and you have to apply a different approach work, generally talking about just the normal household where someone's laughter, back for the weekend and hardhearted in the tree so Carol, let me ask you when Derek, who is your oldest is Alex's husband yet I keep telling a road what was experience for you when you do know from high school that summer drove the college that is similar before they leave is mother's time what we want, we should do everything together.

This could be the last time that we were going to church together in the same car whenever a mother and parents. I think that get really intense about emotional and intense about family things and this is a child who is trying desperately to separate emotion adult. I know I don't want to get in the car I want to drive myself that kind of thing and we just had to really be aware that our purposes were very different and we were going. We packed up the car. This was going to be a family trip to take him to college and so we were just squished into car with all of his things and I just had all these visions of here we are together in the car look in a give him all the information we might have forgotten along the way that open field with no lunch out there and yes it will gather to pray and what happened. It was, it was not good.

They all put on the day. At that point had earphones that they said said and they all got into their own worlds and it was mom and dad sitting in the front seat is going well and and really saying goodbye at a college campus. I encourage parents to really do their important times and moments before they get to the campus when everything is crazy and they are out of sorts. They just want to get on with it. Don't want to say goodbye so so they're just gonna try to get rid of that and go have one nice meal out the night before you move and if you've taken them them to college campus and then whatever you want to say to them, say before the last moment because we were all in Derek's room and he looked at his watch and he said oh my gosh I got a meeting at mean we just barely had your home all the meaning all ready to pray and be really and we we lost that moment because, in retrospect, I know that is the way he needed to do it. He needed to leave and he needed to be the one walking out and so when we got to the second on Lindsay that we took to college. Derek was with us because we were dropping her off first and then taking him back to his college campus and he said, as we were getting ready for that device had let her walk away knowing our study walk away silly. It confirmed that he needed that.

That was how he want to say goodbye. It would be easier for Lindsay to to walk away rather than her watching us walk away and that's good that you have that kind of experience I think your daughter to college right you have built the planet been well yeah right. Well, we wanted to have that special dinner the night before and were a family of six.

We sometimes forget we don't eat out very often without success. We forget we can't just walk in table restaurant and they were here and were ready to be served, so we walked into a restaurant in our neighborhood and it was full was booked and it was the place she wanted to go and we had a plan and the plan was falling apart but emotions were so high because we were taking her the next morning to campus and so we ended up sitting in the parking lot in the car. People were cranky. She was anxious to get this done. To do so and we parents were so emotional. We just had to take a collective deep breath and say okay this is turning out the way we thought it was going to.

So what's our plan B go to Plan B try to do it quickly and drugs are going to go sit down somewhere but there are so many moments where you picture how it's going to go and then it doesn't go that way as parenting right. It was good to go this way. It doesn't other sites were to go on to Plan B and to be prepared for that in this whole process of a young person leaving home, whether they're going to college or they're moving out there joining the military. Whatever it is to have an idea of how you'd like it to go and to hold those plans loosely is great lets in the last couple minutes Talk about the grief process because there is agreement in the loss of your child that little kindergartner you have to you have to deal with it to be healthy, I think, and so Carol you talked about that emptiness transition when the last one leaves how did God teach you about grieving that loss. Well, I had two other attempts or rehearsals with the grief still learning to process it with especially other moms because we seem to have a more alike response that is connected yes but with your husband to you, because that's a very important time in a marriage and we talked about it long before we took the last one to college and so we were more ready for because we done it slowly and that was the final one, so I think being aware that your marriage is gonna change and you're going to go through different responses. At first it was just great fun. You know, we didn't have to go get the right kind of food for the one who wanted this or this or this and we had a great a great feeling of freedom ourselves and actually it came more further down the road when we realized. Gosh, we really miss loving someone together. That's right here, and that was the important part of our marriage is loving someone together. That's when we got a dog and truly you know for a marriage that that does that well together.

Loving something someone together. That's a very helpful change for this is been great. Every so many some pieces of wisdom to God that transition time. I think the biggest thing is try to be the cheerleader what you said a moment ago. Don't hang onto the five-year-old was so adorable. But you're now touring the young adult on into a pretty aggressive world. And they're gonna need to know who they are.

Hopefully that works been done that they have identity in Christ and they know where they're driving whatever they're stepping into the have confidence to do it and really mom and dad, you play the role of establishing the foundation great resource. Give them wings. I think it's a wonderful resource for every parent. I have directly here from Focus on the Family and I would encourage you to get involved with the ministry if you can make a gift of any amount or maybe become a monthly sustainer will send a copy of the book is our website. Thank you for helping others through Focus on the Family.

As you can today?

The link is in the episode notes will give us a call on behalf of Jim Daly entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back. As we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ messing up at school can be embarrassing but average boys use to it. He tries failed and tries again thanks to help from his friends, Billy, Jenny and Sarah join average boy in his very first functional novel called average voice above average year deals with bullies homework and more while following God and showing God's love to others. Check out this book, perfect for the 12-year-old in your life that average boys.org that way.org