Raising teenager is always an experience…usually one that makes you thankful when they pass the hormonal stage and recognize that sometimes parents aren’t as stupid as they first might appear!
A friend of mine once gave me one of the best pieces of advice that I have heard: “God gives you teenagers so you learn to pray on your knees.”
She was right.
Part of parenthood is recognizing when to let go enough that your child learns from his/her mistakes. Much like a mother bird, we have to allow kids to strengthen their wings on the small stuff so they won’t plunge to the ground when they get to the big stuff.
But that isn’t easy. It requires one to love enough to be a parent, NOT a friend. You cannot be friend and parent. The two simply don’t mix with young children for it is your job to protect, teach, and love. The ‘friendship’ bit comes later when you commiserate with them on how difficult life is when they learn what life is like without the safety net of parents to fall back on.
Parent have our backs when we are young.
When we are older, however, it is our choices that define us. And so it was with David and his son Absalom. 2 Samuel 19: 1-7-And it was told Joab, Behold the king weepeth and mourneth for Absalom. And the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all the people: for the people heard say that day how the king was grieved for his son. And the people gat them by stealth that day into the city, as people being ashamed steal away when they flee in battle. But the king covered his face and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son! And Joab came into the house to the king, and said, Thou has shamed this day the faces of all thy servants, which this day have saved thy life, and the lives of thy sons and of thy daughters, and the lives of thy wives, and the lives of thy concubines; In that thou lovest thing enemies, and hatest thy friends. For thou has declared this day, that thou regardest neither princes nor servants: for this day I perceive, that if Absalom had lived, and all we had died this day, then it had pleased thee well. Now, therefore arise, go forth, and speak comfortably unto thy servants for I swear by the Lord, if thou go not forth, there will not tarry one with thee this night: and that will be worse unto thee than all the evil that befell thee from thy youth until now.
One could easily excuse David for mourning the loss of his son…IF you didn’t understand the set up here. Absalom was a ‘pretender’ king. He had rebelled in a way that left everyone in no doubt that this was a set up of a duel between father and son for power. What’s more, he was old enough to know his place. This was no teenager here. This was a man having a major temper tantrum because things were not going in the way he would like. Obviously, he was not going to listen to explanations or even seek to understand God’s will for his life, OR listen to any of his father’s explanations.
The tribe of Judah was following Absalom, who had been easily led astray by promises from David’s enemies. Absalom had gone so far as to shame his father in front of his people. He blantantly made it clear this was to be the type of ‘duel unto death’ situation.
David was left with little choice but to resolve this situation.
Still, he was a father with a father’s broken heart.
After his son’s death, however, David goes too far and needs reminding with some ‘Tough Love’ from Joab the leader of his forces. By weeping and carrying on and having such a public pity party, David is, in fact, actually rewarding his son’s rebellion and humiliating those who fought for his right to rule.
Perhaps, David mourned the fact that he had spent too much time catering to Absalom who was jealous and envious of his father’s bond with his brother Solomon. Perhaps, David regretted they type of parent he had been.
Whatever the case, Joab gets busy giving David the kind of tough love, no nonsense type of advice that he needed to snap out of this.
He isn’t telling David not to mourn his son.
He’s telling him there is a time and place for such things and that he is insulting those who gave their all to keep him on the throne–and he was right.
Tough love isn’t easy.
It isn’t all that popular.
The thing is, however, that once your children are grown, nine times out of ten they will come back and thank you for being their PARENT rather than their friend…