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Archive for June, 2013

Dancing

I recently had a friend describe her relationship to her adult 20-something children as “dancing”. As in: sometimes in, sometimes out, sometimes stepping on toes, sometimes their toes get stepped on. And the way she described it, they lead sometimes, and she leads sometimes.

While pondering that, I’ve come to think that parenting itself is like teaching your child to dance. When they’re young, you lead all the time, just as when you take dance lessons, the dance instructor always leads in the beginning. But as they get in their preteens and teens, you teach them to lead by becoming a follower. Just a little at first, but more and more as they get older. But you won’t really teach them to lead if you only give them the reins in what you want to do. Excepting sin, of course, we have to let them lead in what they want to do, and we have to stay engaged and let them lead us, not just their peers.

And perhaps if it’s done right, with the right amount of us leading, then them leading, when they’re adults they’ll want to do that sort of dance with us, the you-lead-sometimes and I-lead-sometimes dance that is the dance of adult friends.

But so many of us get it wrong, and continue to be the choreographers of the dance with them, always leading, throughout their teen years, or even into their adult years. But the fruit of that is that once they are adults and can lead, must lead to be adults, they don’t want to dance with you ever, unless they are leading. There is no first them, then you. It’s always them. Which is what you’ve taught them to do, by it being only you leading throughout their adolescence when you should have been teaching the adult give and take.

And they may not really want to dance with you anyway. They may look all over the room for anyone else to dance with besides you. Even though you brought them to the dance. And if they’re good kids, with a sense of what’s right and what’s wrong, they’ll come over to you 5 minutes before the dance is over and dance with you because they’ve noticed you watching them, even when you were dancing with another, and they know you’ve wanted to dance with them all night, and they know they should. But they’ll lead even then, because you didn’t teach them when they were young to share in the choreography.

We reap what we sow. Even later, when the Lord has shown us that we should have been doing the giving and taking with them all along, and we change, it will be too late, for they will only be able to think of us as the dance partner who always wants to lead, even if it’s not true anymore, by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit. August is too late to say, “oops, I should’ve planted more potatoes and less eggplant.”

We can only pray then, that the Lord will grant our adult children the wisdom to not make the same mistakes with their children, so that those children won’t have to claim their ground as adults by only leading with their parents all the time. And they won’t look at their parents as folks that they have to guard themselves against, lest they try to take over the lead and shut them out of adulthood again. We can only pray that our children’s children will desire to share in the lives and choreography of their dance with their parents.

And we can only pray that God will teach us new ways of preparing our abundance of eggplant.

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