Meg Meeker M.D.
My friend, LuAnne Crane, recently made one of the hardest decisions of her life.
She decided to leave a job she has loved for 30 years and be home with her high school-aged son.
For every mother who has lived the tension of working outside the home and caring for children, you know her angst. She loves her kids and wants to keep them as her first priority. But she loves her job and knows that God has gifted her with a passion for it. LuAnne’s situation is unique, though. She doesn’t have young children at home. As a matter of fact, three have left home and only one high schooler remains. So why leave a job she is called to and stay home? That’s where we mothers need to pay attention.
LuAnne has realized a truth that many of us mothers with older children miss: our teens need us more than our grade-schoolers. LuAnne sees that her son will be facing some of his toughest challenges yet. His friends may want him to do stupid things. So who will help him? LuAnne.
He will need to learn to drive, figure out whether he wants to date, struggle with friends who will drink, smoke weed, and take drugs. College is around the corner, and he will question himself repeatedly about whether he should go, where he should apply, or whether he should work. If he does apply to college, rejection letters will come and he will be shaken. Who will hear him as he works through the answers? His mom.
Here’s the real tough part for LuAnne. She’s in the homestretch with her son. She may wonder, Does he really need me? After all, our culture tells her that since her son is now a teen, his life revolves around his peers.
That’s Lie Number 1. All the best studies on teens report that the number one influence in a teen’s life that keeps them away from trouble is us—their parents. Period.
Then LuAnne will hear that her son won’t want her around.
That’s Lie Number 2. I have listened to literally thousands of teens over 25 years and can unequivocally state that the greatest pains in teens’ lives stem from fractured relationships with their mothers and fathers. Kids with mothers who take time to listen and love and with fathers who care enough to say “no” have much greater emotional stability. These are the kids who fly in life. Since she will be there, LuAnne’s son will stand a much better chance for succeeding after he leaves home.
LuAnne gets this. Leaving a post where she is admired, appreciated and loved is tough stuff. In the next months, the payoff won’t be immediate. As a matter of fact, the next three years may be grueling for her, depending upon her son’s struggles. But I can guarantee her one thing: the payoff will come. For her and for her son.
Moms, let’s not miss her example of selfless courage. Every one of us has lived with this tension. We want the accolades, the money, and the excitement that come from a career. But there is a price to be paid. When the price is too great for you, remember LuAnne. May each of us live with her kind of courage.