Pastor John Beeson and his wife Angel are amazing parents. But, like most parents, they wanted to know what their teenage kids thought about their parenting skills. This is what they said:
"We have two wonderful teenage kids. Camille is 16 and Soren is 14. It’s hard to believe that adulthood is just a few years off for both of them. With their elementary years not too far in the rearview mirror and adulthood not too far ahead of them, we asked our kids if they would share what they thought we have done best and where we could improve.
What follows is a Beeson living room chat. I hope by listening in you can benefit from both our highlight and blooper reels.
Their list at times converges with our perspective of our strengths and weakness and at times diverges. I didn’t ask for a certain number of positives and negatives and didn’t edit their list, but I did add comments after each item.
What our kids said we did best (their words are in bold):
1. Trusting us and giving us freedom (you’re not helicopter parents).
I’m so glad to see this on their list. We’ve given far less freedom than some parents, but we have been intentional in these past few years to release our kids in order to prepare them for adulthood. If they merely perform a certain way at home but immediately stop behaving that way once they leave for college, then our parenting was in vain.
2. Supporting us in our passions.
We’ve tried to cultivate the giftings God has given Camille and Soren and help them understand God’s call on them to steward their strengths.
3. Preparing us for the future.
We’ve tried to help our kids develop skills such as hard work, responsibility, and organization that will serve them their entire lives. We’ve also coached them to discern which of their giftings are more likely to be of their vocational calling and which are more likely to be avocational interests that they can enjoy as lifelong hobbies.
4. Letting us learn from our mistakes.
I’m glad Camille and Soren think that we’ve allowed them to learn from their mistakes. Although honestly, I think we can pull back even more to let them learn from their mistakes. As a parent it’s difficult to allow your kids to experience the consequences of their decisions. A parent’s natural impulse is to protect their kids from poor choices. But Camille and Soren are right that learning from their mistakes is the best way to learn. Our hope is that we continue to grow in making space for our children to learn from their mistakes.
5. Giving us freedom to not be perfect.
This is so important that our children know this. And it leads their final comment…
6. Being transparent (teaching us to not keep secrets).
This starts with us modeling repentance. From when our kids were young, we’ve worked hard to acknowledge our wrongs in front of them. We ask for forgiveness when we sin against our kids. In a way that suits their maturity, we’ve shared our fears and our difficulties. And we’ve done everything we can to make it safe for the kids to share their secrets.
What our kids said we could do better:
1. (Soren) Letting me feel like my opinions matter and have an impact.
Soren is right. I need to create space for him to voice his opinion, even when I disagree. I know that for Soren to really grow in wisdom, that wisdom has to be earned and owned personally. As a parent of young children, it is appropriate to ask for obedience with limited explanation. As our children mature, we need to provide stronger explanations for what we are asking of them, and even provide space for them to disagree with us.
2. (Camille) Not forcing “moments.”
Camille’s further explanation: When you are a teenager you do not, (at least I do not) want to fit into a certain stereotype. I am super grateful for the sweet memories and moments my family has had, and I am super blessed to have such an amazing family. But the older I get the more grateful my parents are for those sweet moments. And often they will continually voice their gratitude about those sweet moments. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this! Except sometimes(as a teenager), it makes those moments seemed forced, and now I feel pressured to be in, or create those perfect moments. That “perfect family” stereotype is so often fake and forced, and although I know our family is natural and real, when the gratitude is constant it makes it feel like those moments were forced. I am not sure if that made any sense, and I do not exactly know what you could do as parents to avoid that, but that is the only time I feel uncomfortable with something in our family.
This feedback is a surprise! It’s helpful to be able to crawl into Camille’s mind and hear how she processes these moments. I understand her fear of any feeling of being forced to have a certain moment or be a certain type of family. As parents, we’ve tried to emphasize gratitude and making sure that we live in the special moments God gives us, but I hear what Camille is saying here, that we have to be careful that we don’t force those moments.
I hope listening in on this family conversation helps you as you consider what you’ve done best and worst as a parent. Maybe this is a conversation you would benefit from having with your children, whatever their age.
May we all grow as moms and dads, learning to reflect our Heavenly Father’s perfect parenting of us more and more."