Unification News for November 1998

Mom, I think I’m starting to get bigger!

By Rob Sayre

Our daughter was only three when she proclaimed this truth. It has stuck with us through the years. Whenever either of our girls does something that seems like a landmark for a certain age, either my wife or I will turn to the other and say, "these kids are starting to get bigger." We nod our heads and smile. This fall however, both our girls became teenagers! A scary thought for us as parents, not to mention our unmentionable ages! I thought I’d share with the readers of the Unification News some of our experiences with parenting teens. At least what we know to date!A year ago, our older daughter, a freshman in High School auditioned for the fall drama production.

The play to be produced was "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder. It was guest directed by the Head of the Drama Department at Lafayette College. It is set in the mythical town of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire at the turn of the century. My "little girl" was cast as Emily, the lead female part. In it, Emily grows up, gets married to her childhood sweetheart, bears a child, dies at the age of 26 and returns from Spirit World to the people and places she experienced while on Earth. She sees how limited their lives were, how often shallow their time was. It is a wonderful play. During the final performance, we were seated next to the parents of the boy "Emily" marries. There was "my little girl" in a beautiful white gown, looking ever so grown up and radiant, reciting her vows with a handsome young man and looking so happy! My wife and the wife of the groom were crying. It was a surreal experience to say the least. I was half expecting the go to a reception afterward and dance one last dance with "my little girl." Instead, the entire cast went out for pizza and our girl came home the same charming and buoyant young girl.

Or was she the same? Since then, she's taken on a more mature air about her, at times. She can still be silly, laughing and giggling with her sister and sometimes serious and thoughtful. In her honors English class, she is reading serious novels, writing in-depth about important issues and can discuss and argue quite effectively. She is also on the debate team, which I have reservations about. She is becoming more effective in her negotiations with me. She is becoming a young woman.

Prior to my younger turning 13, I declared, in jest that as the True Father of the household, I was halting all birthdays for one year. No one would turn older this year. They just laughed at me. I was half-serious. My thoughts have also been on the blessing, how to help my girls prepare for it and their future happiness and lives. I’ve come to realize that all we can do, as parents is help prepare them to make the right decisions. Even the blessing must be their choice. We can influence their direction and thinking, expose them to our traditions, values and theology, we can set strict guidelines on the types of people they interact with, but in the end it will be their decision. This is as it should be. I’ve been working pretty hard the last 4-5 years to give them experiences that will help them make the Principle their own and to experience God’s Heart. This is the best I can do. I have so many questions. Under what circumstances will their matching occur? When? What happens if Father passes on prior to "their time?" What happens if they choose not to pursue the matching? I do not know the answers to these questions. I know I’ll be more nervous about their blessing than my own. This is as it should be.

Rob & Sally Sayre live in rural eastern Pennsylvania with their two girls, two cats and their wacky dog, Banjo. Sally teaches in the public school system and runs the drama club for the Middle School. Rob is a management consultant and software developer. They, with several other dedicated families organize Youth and Family Camps and other activities for the 2nd Generation. For more information on these see www.bccamps.a9.org.

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