Last week, my two youngest children turned fourteen years old. Yes, twins. And yes, twin teenagers. In addition, their older sister — and by “older” I mean only nine months older — is also fourteen years old. For the next three months until her birthday, I am living in a house with three fourteen-year-olds.
Holy hormones, Jesus come quickly.
In all seriousness, there are many things I love about these years. This isn’t the first time my husband and I have raised teenagers — our oldest three boys are twenty-four, twenty-seven, and twenty-nine. We’ve been here, done this. And there is much to love about watching your kids grow into adulthood. Even so, it’s not easy. And it feels a bit weightier than it did ten to fifteen years ago. The world is different than it was then.
For their birthday, our twins finally received their long-dreamed-of cell phone. You could say we’re old-fashioned. We don’t allow our kids to have cell phones until their fourteen birthday, a way for us to preserve their childhood a little longer and ensure they have the maturity to handle such a responsibility. That means, turning fourteen and getting a phone is a big deal in our house. Exciting and fun, yes, but also serious.
Tonight, my husband and I sat down with our kids and went through the boundaries surrounding their new cell phones. We spent quite a bit of time talking about the power of words and pictures and the long-lasting consequences of what we text and post and say, both positive and negative. Then we had them read through the printed contract spelling out those rules, all thirteen of them. To fourteen year olds, these restrictions felt unnecessary, even rigid and controlling. They didn’t like it one bit. And that is precisely why we spent some time explaining why it matters.
My husband began our conversation by reading these words:
“I understand that the rules below are for my safety and that my parents love me . . . I understand that my parents want to give me freedom, while also giving me enough security to make smart choices.”
Freedom. With security.
I restrained a smile, knowing that although my children would sign this document saying “I understand,” they don’t, in fact, understand. They may read the words, hear the words, even acknowledge the words. But at fourteen years old, they only understand the smallest fraction of the apprehension their dad and I feel about all that could potentially go wrong. Life experience has taught us some hard-earned lessons that guide our use of our own cell phones. We know our kids don’t yet have that experience or maturity, but we’re hoping they trust us enough to take our word for it, even if it feels like we’re being unreasonable.
So we set some rules and hold our kids accountable enough to keep them safe. It is the boundaries — and their respect of them — which will provide them the freedom to enjoy the gift, without suffering painful consequences. In short, the restrictions are fueled by love.
As I sat at the kitchen table listening to my husband read the contract and watching teenage eyes roll, I thought of how many times I have, likewise, felt God’s boundaries and guidelines for my life to be unreasonable and rigid. Is God determined to keep us from having any fun? Is He a micromanaging control-freak who loves nothing more than to keep us under His thumb?
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,
and do not resent his rebuke,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in.
Proverbs 3:11-12 (NIV)
Freedom with security — they go together. And they are sourced in God’s love for us every single time. That is the beauty of our Father’s boundaries. Boundaries fueled by love are the only way to feel truly safe and free. The only question is: Will you and I trust Him enough to follow Him?Leave a Comment
I love this description of how boundaries are such an essential part of God’s love for us and how as our Father He knows what we need even when we don’t. It takes experience to learn the wisdom of these things and sometimes these lessons can be painful and have far teaching consequences. Thank you for this great story, I pray others will have your courage and your confidence in Christ.
Thank you for that! Have you read Screen-Kids by Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane!? Some of the things you shared coincide with some of the things they mention in it. It was a good book and an eye-opener for me, a must for all society to see. Praise God for that Freedom in Christ! God bless your day!
Marian Frizzell says
I love this. Thank you so much for sharing. It took me straight back to Psalm 16–the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.
Excellent! Thank you for this reminder.
Yvonne Benavides says
Thank you for sharing. It’s a reminder to us adults. Sometimes we seem to think it only applies to our children.
Natalie Winnett says
This is so beautiful.
It’s one of the lessons I have seen God continue to teach me and reveal to me and remind me of throughout my entire life…
He is love.
And because of that I can trust Him.
Any chance you would want to share a copy of that contract with a mom of two preteen girls?
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
I know I am not a Mum. Never will be. I love kids. As I was Registered Childminder for 19 years. Giving Birth no could not go there. To scared. But I see it time and time again kids with Mobile phones or Cell phones as you call them at way way far to young a age. My we Niece who is 7 I was horrified. To hear a little girl in her class had one. Way way to young at that age to have one. I don’t like some parents. Who don’t keep an eye on what their kids do on their phone. As I saw a child. I thought this was way to dangerous. I said you have all those friends names on an app on your phone that you can video chat them. It was not just there first name. It was first and last name. I thought to myself. If your phone got lost and into the wrong hands that person would know who you where and who your friends were. How dangerous in my eyes. No way should kids be allowed in my eyes to chat their friends on their phones on these video apps. It should be done on the computer or iPad etc. Were their Parents can see them. Only in my eyes should it have the internet and email address texting and for ringing people parents know about. I know a parent that has her phone that what ever her kids do on their phones she can see it on her phone. Like who they text. Or what they look up on the internet etc. Which I think is a very good idea. But the other way no. As there are kids that parents don’t keep an idea on what they do on their phones. These kid could get themselves into trouble if not careful. I praise You and Your Husband for putting down the rules. With your kids before letting them have their phones. It shows you care about them and Love them. They might not think it now or appreciatect it. But one day if they get Married and have kids of their own they will see that You both as Parents were right. They will thank you for it. At the time they might have thought You both were to strick. But better that. Than something happen. You are showing your love to them and that You both care for their safety. As if the phone got the internet on it we have to be so careful when on it. It just like us Followers of Jesus. We don’t like sometimes when Jesus tell us things for our one good because he loves us. We at the time might not like to hear what Jesus is saying to us. But Jesus always say it to us in Love. When we look back at it. We are thankful Jesus did through this Holy Spirit and his word the Bible. We then are better people for it. As sometimes we need the disapline. As I can remember when small my Mum disaplining me. When I did wrong or telling Something for my own good. At the time I did not like it. But later on. I was glad she did. As I appreciate it. As it help me learn. If I was wrong I didn’t do it again. Thank you Michele for an reading in all your wrote today. Loved it. Love you all incourage. Keeping you all in my prayers. Dawn Ferguson-Little xxx
Thank-you for sharing this beautiful message with us this morning.
blessings to all,
Beth Williams says
Most children crave boundaries. Oh we won’t come out & say it, but tell us no every now & then. Discipline us when we disobey. That teaches us how far we can go without getting into trouble. It shows your love for us. God loves us like a shepherd loves his sheep. He wants us to have freedom, but also a safety net of protection. After all we are like sheep wandering here & there. Love this: Freedom with security — they go together. And they are sourced in God’s love for us, every single time.