In keeping with last month's analogy of goats
and people, I thought I would offer another one
this month, this time concerning our teenagers.
The following thoughts are one's which came to
me as I took water up to my three goats the
other day. Sometimes an idea, no matter how
peculiar, just grabs onto you and won't let go.
But I will stop short of making any apologies
for the analogy I am attempting to make here of
goats and children. So hold on to your goat's
horns and off we go!
It was an exquisitely beautiful spring day,
and as I poured the water for my goats, I
decided I would do them a kindness and let them
out of the pen where the tall grasses and lush
multi-flora he just beyond the gate. First,
however, I go down the hill and get a large
piece of lattice to block their path down the
hill ... I hope. From past experience I
know how hard it is to keep them up the hill.
Usually giving them more freedom results in them
breaking the flimsy barrier down and coming down
the hill where they would then feast on my small
pine and fruit trees and shrubs closer to the
Sure enough, my lattice barrier was
insufficient. Watching from my kitchen window I
could see Fawn wandering toward the pine grove.
Dropping everything, I went out to guide her
back and considered how to make a better
barrier. As I had already been contemplating the
necessary, though sometimes difficult,
restrictions I must make for my children, the
problem of barrier
building grew. I opened the gate to give them
more freedom and opportunities, but other types of
still needed to restrict their behavior.
Parenting a teenager is very tricky business,
for once the gate is open, the multi-flora always
looks greener on the other side. Like my goats,
teens really are still pretty innocent and naive
as to what is good for them, even though they
would totally disagree. They long to push
further and further down the hill, into the
restricted areas, even if
it does harm
to their parents. For if
and nurturing trees and shrubs closer to my
home, closer to my heart, are destroyed, much
will be lost.
And so the arduous chore of erecting better
barriers goes on. I try to see this as a
necessary, even natural process. Searching
around for more barrier material, I found a 10'
length of picket fence and some folded up wire
fencing. So the barrier grew, and once I myself
found it difficult to get through it I knew it
would do for at least awhile. However, I am
realistic enough to know that there is always
potential for them to go even further down the
tree line, beyond my barrier, and once again
begin exploring the forbidden territory. The
goats may find those pine trees, but what will
our child n find? Drug s alcohol, cigarettes,
and maybe even worse things. All I can do is
hope my barrier holds.
Through it all, I try to be philosophical. As
naturally as a rivulet of water seeks passage
from its source, my goats and my teens will
weave their way in and out and find their way
around any obstacle, be it rock, shrub, fence or
parent. This is a natural process, I tell
myself, as they strive to separate themselves
from the parents, for ultimately they must find
their own way. Still, it is the instinct of the
parent to protect, and to put up the barriers.
And so the process goes on and on. But remember,
it is a natural, I tell myself.
'Mere is some comfort in this realization.
There will always be weak spots in a fence,
no matter how well it is built, and both goats
and children are experts at finding them. We
work hard at trying to repair, but sometimes we
just don't have the time or the energy to
repair. It is at those times we just have to
trust. Most of all, we must be sure not to build
barriers where barriers are not needed. I speak
here of the barrier of miss-communication and
anger. These are the more subtle barriers which
must come down at any cost, but which stand all
too often as a moat between us and our teens.
other Articles by Christine Maccabee