My daughter, keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. Proverbs 6:20-22
At a certain stage in development, we as young people look at our parents and wonder, “How did they make it this far in life without me?” We think there is nothing we can learn from these people, except maybe how not to live life. Our young minds have forgotten how we learned most of what we know. We are convinced our conscience must have spontaneously generated.
Yet even at this point, we have already become our parents – yikes! You know that little voice in our heads that says, “I better get out of bed now or I’ll have to run to my class,” – that’s our parents’ voice! That better judgment that holds our tongues when we feel like telling our boss where he can get off – our parents again. Appreciate the fact that for the first five years of our lives – years we cannot even remember – our parents were busy with constant prompting and instruction, laying the foundation for our conscience, common sense and good judgment.
Yet, parents can’t teach us everything we need to know that early in life. Some things have to come a little later in life, such as advice on dating and choosing a spouse. If we seal ourselves off from their influence just because they’re geeks, we’ll miss out on those late-teen, early twenties key lessons they still have to teach us.
We should be open to our parents’ advice on these things. If we made it this far under their care, we can trust them to see us all the way through. We should soak up everything they have to say as if we were listening to a skydiving instructor in our one and only lesson before we have to jump out of the plane. We must pardon our parents if they aren’t the best of instructors – if their instruction is laced with frustration or disguised as nagging. The very fact that they are bothering to argue with us or lecture us confirms one thing: they love us and they want the best for us.
From the security of our final years at home, we feel so certain of everything; life seems simple and we believe we will easily master life, love and business. Just as soon as the exhilarating sensation of being on our own wears off, the complexity of life will reveal itself and we will be glad to have “What would Mom do?” or “What would Dad do?” as a compass to guide us in decision-making.
Sadly, many young people do not have parents whose advice they can take. I’m not talking about nerdy parents or parents who never graduated from high school. I’m talking about truly unstable people who have been in and out of jail, have serious dysfunctional behavior such as drug and alcohol addictions, are mentally ill, or have abandoned their children completely. If that describes your parents and you are reading this article, I can assure you that God is taking care of you – perhaps through the concern of some adult in authority over you at school, a social services organization or even in jail. Or perhaps God is caring for you directly until He leads you to the protective umbrella of a mentor.
Whether we have a wonderful mom and dad to ask for advice, parents we don’t appreciate or no parents at all, all good advice is centered in the law of God. We can always ask God to show us the right way, watch over us while we sleep and speak clearly to us to keep us on the best path for our life.
Hold this thought: “Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here I am” (Isaiah 58:9a).
Donna Lee Schillinger is editor of the recent anthology Purity’s Big Payoff/Premarital Sex is a Big Rip-off, winner of the 2012 Christian Small Publisher’s Book of the Year. In 2008 she founded On My Own Now Ministries to encourage faith, wise life choices and Christ-likeness in young adults. On My Own Now publishes the free, monthly online magazines, Single! Young Christian Woman and Genuine Motivation: Young Christian Man.