I can’t believe I don’t have a baby 


I’m over 40 and I’m Single and childless …and I just can’t believe it. 

Sometimes I am hopeful that might change, sometimes I’m quite at peace and content if it doesn’t, sometimes I’m overwhelmed with the grief and sadness of it – but mostly, I just can’t believe it. 

I just can’t understand how this is the way my life has gone! All I’ve ever wanted to be is a wife and mother. Instead, I continue to experience so many other amazing things that I didn’t expect, or even imagine would be part of my life. I have so many other roles – a friend, an Aunty, a Pastor, an author, a speaker, a leader, a traveller – I love so much about my life. But I just can’t believe I’m not a mum. 

I love babies. I love children. They seem to love me (well most of them). They run to give me hugs, they fall asleep in my arms; they each have their special nicknames, hugs and traditions. I have a well-developed ability to sleep literally anywhere (including standing up – true story) at any time which I am sure would be a handy skill to have as a sleep-deprived new mum. I have a full heart and an empty home.

I am supremely confident of God’s nearness and His love. He leads me, He defends me, He grows me in wisdom and in His grace. He comforts me. He blesses me abundantly. While I completely trust His plans and purposes for my life, I don’t completely understand them. I’m sure He knows what I long for. 

I can’t believe I don’t have a baby. 

My Singleness doesn’t feel like it has an end date. I can marry at any time – and I hold the deep hope that I will on an open hand. There’s a biological reality to my capacity to conceive and carry a child on which the window is rapidly closing, or may have already closed. 

I can’t believe I’m not a mum. 

I think it’s okay to say that out loud. I feel like it’s healthy to express that in context to a greater sense of contentment and peace. Because the sense of disbelief is actually the feeling that rises most regularly. Sometimes it’s so strong it physically arrests me and I literally stop what I’m doing and shake my head – I’m sure I have a confused expression on my face. 

And then? Well, then I take the next step forward into whatever else is happening and whatever else is coming. 

what would someone look like if they looked like you?


When I was about three years old my mum walked past my room to hear me disciplining my dolls. 

“One …two …four!”

Mum was about to correct my counting when I continued, “aren’t you glad I didn’t say three?”

You can probably guess that the old count to three was one of our family’s discipline strategies. And here my lucky dolls were getting a reprieve by me not saying three before they had a chance to rectify their behaviour. 

Most learning for children happens by modelling and mimicking. They learn language, counting, basic life skills (like dressing and eating) all by watching adults and older children. This is also true about intangibles like attitude and character. 

As front row audience members to the day to day lives of their parents, family and friends, they absorb something of their values, morals and ethics. This is largely positive, except for the part where they pick up on the inconsistencies between our speech and behaviour or where they accurately mirror attitudes or tendencies of which we are unaware or not proud. 

“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”‭‭ Phil‬ ‭4:9‬

Paul says, “Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realised.” (The ‭MSG‬‬)

Now, I’m completely ok with people putting into practice what they learned from me. I am an intentional leader and teacher. They’re hopefully learning some good gear! But what you hear, see and realise or observe? I’m not so sure all of that is ideally replicated. 

Whilst I think Paul is a little nuts to make this declaration, I like what it demonstrates of the recognition that he was a person of influence and authority and that with such privilege came a high degree of responsibility. He was aware. He knew that beyond what he said, people would be looking at what he was doing and saying. 

How about for us? If others are repeating our speech, what do they sound like? If they’re adopting our values, what are they like as a citizen, a friend, a worker, a family member? If they were to give like we give, would they be generous? If they were to accept and include like we do, would they be non-judgmental and embracing? If they were to extend grace as we do, would they be first to apologise and quick to forgive? 

Everything you’ve heard and seen and realised


Our response to this ought not be one of condemnation and guilt but conviction and inspiration. 

We don’t get to choose IF we influence but we do get to choose how and to what. 

your teen needs you!

There are times in the parenting (or leading and teaching) journey when this feels far from true. Your teen may not LOOK like they need you, they might not ACT like they need you and they may even SAY they don’t need you! But they do.

The cry of the teenage/emerging-adult heart is for relationships and community where three things are present – Trust, Respect and Belief. Sociologists report this drive as the key factors behind gang or ‘bikie’ culture. Such is the need of the heart that it draws a person to connection and belonging ANYWHERE these things are present. It’s true of adults too – but (hopefully) there is a greater degree of discernment to determine whether the presence of trust, respect and belief outweighs any negatives about the people or culture who are offering them.

Let’s unpack these three factors further.

TRUST

What they want …Teens want to be trustworthy but they also want to believe they are capable of trustworthiness and so will crave actions and communication that demonstrate this trust and confidence.

What they fear… Questioning their decision-making skills, their ability to consider all outcomes and options, or their self management or control, translates as an absence of trust.

What to try…

  • Give ample time and opportunity for your teen to explain what they do know and what they have considered (rather than assuming they haven’t really thought things through).
  • Ask questions or use hypothetical scenarios to extend  their awareness of potential outcomes and concerns and grow their consideration.
  • Express your desire to ‘assume the risk’ for the unknown or potential consequences of a decision rather than burdening them with that when their experience or vision is limited. In other words, sometimes a parent needs to be the one who decides because the decision and its outcomes are too weighty for a young person to have to bear.

BELIEF

What they want… In the face of sometimes crippling self-doubt, insecurity, fear of the future and competition teens will gravitate to people and places where they are encouraged to dream big dreams and imagine an extraordinary future.

What they fear… Youth are constantly wondering if they really have what it takes to succeed in life (aren’t we all!). They don’t have the history or experience of seeing how things will play out and so their capacity to predict the future is limited. They are highly sensitive to any inference from adults in their world that what they hope for or are aiming for in their future is not possible.

What to try…

  • Check any language that overloads current decisions or actions with future impact (“if you don’t do well at school you’re not going to have opportunities in work later”). Of course all choices and actions have consequences but then all consequences have options, grace and capacity for recovery. Finite, exaggerated or fatalistic language will scream dis-belief.
  • Encourage aspects of character, attitude and heart that, if they continued to develop them, will open up a world of opportunities to live a productive and impact-ful future.

RESPECT

What they want… As teens transition into adulthood, they are super sensitive to insinuations of immaturity. While they fight for independence they want adults around them to start seeing them as emerging adults and treating them accordingly.

What they fear… Commonly the language and tone we use when talking to young people is quite different to how adults would talk to peers. We can present as quite condescending and they feel that we are unable to see them as anything other than a child.

What to try… 

  • Ask the question “How would I handle this situation if this were a co-worker or peer rather than a teen?” (For example, if a coworker knocked a drink over at a meal table we’d probably be quite quick to help them feel ok about the mishap rather than chastise them for their behaviour.)
  • What actions or statements can you change or add to your interactions that communicate respect of their property or privacy, of their opinions and perspectives, and of their insecurities and fears?
  • Consider how you could deescalate a situation by prioritising respect – both given and received.

How about you?
How have you seen this need for Trust, Belief and Respect manifest in your teens? What do you recall of your struggle with this in your own journey into adulthood? How might you leverage this knowledge to bring greater connection with your teen?

 

What about … Intimacy?

At iGnite 2 weeks ago I brought a message titled “What about … Intimacy?” – addressing issues of sexuality, relationship and intimacy from a Biblical perspective and with a heart to see a healthy culture in our church family at WBC around these issues. The link to that message is here.

I am regularly asked to speak to different churches, youth groups, parent nights and leadership teams on these issues as the Church continues to try and ‘reclaim’ a Biblical understanding of our sexuality and design for intimacy amidst the brokenness we experience in our search for love and in a world that values very little in respect to purity and honour.

Here is an excerpt from an article out of the Fuller Youth Institute in the States that gives some tips for parents looking to address these issues with their teens …

If you’re a leader or parent who finds it challenging to talk to young people about sex, try some of the following tips that have worked for me:

  1. Start by asking about friends’ behaviours and attitudes. If it feels too challenging to ask a young person about their own practices or attitudes, ask about “other kids at school” as a way to start the conversation.
  2. Use media, current events, or other resources as a springboard. Maybe even start the conversation by using the content of this blog as a door-opener.
  3. Choose the right time. Much of conversation with teenagers boils down to timing.
  4. Share about your own experiences. One of the themes in our Sticky Faith research is that wise parents share (not lecture!) about their own experiences in natural and organic ways. Without divulging every detail of your sexual past, perhaps your young person is ready to hear a bit about mistakes you made, or what you wish you’d done differently.
  5. Invite your young person to talk to another adult. If you’re a parent and it’s just too challenging to talk with your young person about sex, then figure out with your kid who they might be able to talk to.

Often there’s more happening sexually in young people’s lives and thoughts than we might realize. May this new study be a catalyst for better conversations about tough topics.

The full article can be accessed here.

We desire to be a support and resource to your families as you seek to navigate these tricky issues with your young people. Please do not hesitate to engage us in any way that is useful to you – pointing you in the direction of other resources, connecting your young person with a leader or mentor, chatting things out with you, connecting you with other parents who are a little ahead of you on the journey … however we can assist.