I overheard a conversation in my church lobby yesterday…
Female: “It’s not the big things you do that are ruining our relationship. It’s all the little inconsiderate communication issues.”
Male: (With drooping head) “I know, you’re right. I really do care… I’ll do better.”
Now, to be honest, I’ve heard that conversation dozens of times in counseling situations. So often, little communication issues truly are at the root of the seemingly enormous problems. But yesterday’s overheard conversation stopped me in my tracks. I must admit, I stared at the couple and quite frankly I felt a little sick to my stomach.
Why? Why did this particular couple cause such a visceral reaction? What was different about this exchange? Here’s why I reacted the way I did…
The couple I overheard was twelve years old!
This wasn’t a grown man and woman trying to work through their relational issues. No, this was a little boy and girl imitating adult life and playing the relationship game.
It broke my heart.
Our children are losing their childhood! Instead of playing in the woods and braiding their best friend’s hair, our children are mimicking the adults they know and engaging in commitments that they are far too young to understand.
They are playing with fire!
I hope those two went home to parents who said, “Cut it out! You’re 12 years old! Go find something useful to do with your time; relationships will wait!” Sadly, however, too often the parents of pre-teens do just the opposite. They interject themselves and helpfully strive to “Make the relationship work!” All they accomplish by their efforts is to add legitimacy to a premature and unworkable situation.
I desperately wanted to intervene with those two children. I wanted to exhort the young lady to go find her friends; to go laugh and giggle and enjoy silly girlish made-up games. I wanted to tell her that it was okay to be a little girl for a little while longer… Adulthood and its myriad responsibilities will come soon enough!
And the little boy? Oh how I wish I could have sent him outside to run off some of that God-given boy energy. I would have handed him some Legos or some little green army guys and encouraged him to plan a battle of epic proportions. At 12 years old he should have been battling imaginary enemies, instead of reeling under the weight of imagined communication problems.
I would have told him to go build a tree fort and I would have happily volunteered to make him a “NO GIRLS ALLOWED” sign to grace the entrance.
Moms, we have got to wake up! Yes, our kids will have their childhood crushes, (My kids have all had more than their fair share!) but they should stay just that… Crushes. When we allow, or even worse encourage, those childlike heart flutterings to become full-blown “relationships” we set our children up for heartache, temptation, and conflict that is well beyond their age and ability to navigate.
Our nation is reeling from the effects of a new generation of young adults that just can’t seem to embrace adulthood. They are stuck in their gaming, sleeping in, and hanging out buddy’s paradigm. Could it be because they played the “Adult game” too young and now they’re trying to regain and enjoy some of their lost childhood?
There’s plenty of time for our children to become grown-ups! Let’s help them be children while they can and guide them to squeeze every delicious moment out of their childhood. Let’s Be the parent and free them up to Be the child!