The Almost Empty Nester: Decisions, Decisions...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Decisions, Decisions...

Girly is a junior in high school. This means that we are now in the thick of looking at colleges and talking to her about where she wants to go, what she wants to study... The usual stuff.

And I'm finding myself at a loss on how to help her decide. I want to impart to her some vast wisdom on what to do but I just can't. Why?

Because the weight of having to decide what to do in life weighs like a freight train on me and I'm almost 42 years old. I have no clue what to tell her. I'm still deciding myself what I want to be when I grow up.

Because life is a journey. And this kid is only sixteen years old.

It's funny. I always vowed I would never say to my kids, "When I was your age." Silly me. I say it all the time. And yes, my kids look at me like I'm 100 years-old and traveled to school via covered wagon.

But in looking at schools with her, I do think about what those years were like for me. At that age, college seemed so exciting and grown up. I wanted to choose a major that sounded important and intelligent. I chose Psychology. The thought of that sends me into fits of laughter even now. I had no clue what I was doing.

Until I got to college. I took a Psych class and barely got a C. And I was really trying. Really. But it was laughable how bad I was at it. However, I did find my English and Writing classes fascinating and not that hard. Go figure.

I'm a firm believer in education. And not because I believe it guarantees a job or career, but simply because I think we should never stop learning. But I think teenagers these days are under too much pressure to decide what to do with their lives at an age where they're still discovering who they are.

I had a great conversation with Girly the other day about college. In the beginning of the discussion her demeanor was stressed and wound up, struggling to answer my questions. So I changed course on her. Instead of asking her a bunch of questions, I told her what college was like. She likes science. But she doesn't know a specific kind of science she wants to study. I told her she could look for schools with a strong science department then take classes her freshman year that looked interesting. She also likes photography. I told her she could minor in that if she wanted to at some point.

Her face lit up and her demeanor shifted. "Really? That sounds great. I never knew that."

Aha! So, in the midst of trying to encourage her about college, her high school (as well as us as parents, I'll own that) were so focused on a choice, we didn't show her how to embrace the journey.

The toughest part of parenting teens for me is that the decisions they make shape their futures. When they're little, the decisions are mainly ours as parents and for the most part they're small. Now, these things have serious merit. Not all decisions will make or break a kids future, but it sure feels like it sometimes.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, nothing brings me to my knees in prayer faster than my kids. And I'm happy to say that in this process with Girly, I feel a peace that only God can give me. She's a great kid with a good head on her shoulders. And she trusts God's hand on her life. I hate the unknowns, the things I can't plan. But He knows. And I take great comfort in that.

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