Some people might say I don’t love my kids.
Especially in this modern culture where parents seem to bear the responsibility for everything their kids are – from their grades, to their clothes, to their career choices. I’m not placing blame on any parents in particular. I am, however, keenly aware of the fine line we’ve created for ourselves between being parents who equip their children for life and parents who enable their children to believe they are entitled to have what it took their grandparents a lifetime to earn. All by the time they get to college.
This has been brewing for a while. I’ve read several blogs and articles lately by writers who are doing their best to wake this generation of parents to the consequences of too much intervention.
I had a fresh, face to face encounter with the high stakes of this difficult parenting issue just this week.
When children are small, it feels like the most trying of times. Eating a hot meal with both hands is unheard of, and sleeping through the night is more valuable than….Well, I really can’t put an appropriate price tag on it. (I can tell you from experience that there were times recently when I’d give all the chocolate in my private stash for a good night’s sleep!)
There are those days – no, a whole season of life – when you have to be on your toes, constantly on alert to where they are, what they are doing and why it’s suddenly so quiet. It is a realm of exhaustion all its own. Let’s not forget the well-known adage:
It takes a toll.
I’ve heard well-meaning encouragers say that once you get past pre-school age with your kids the hardest part is over. I bite my tongue and hold back the laughter. I can say with certainty now more than ever, that is not true. My apologies to all of you who thought you were just about to coast downhill.
As children grow up it becomes more important that we as parents understand our role. It’s comparable to chasing a shadow, but I hold on to the hope that it’s possible to get it right. I’m still chasing.
When do we hold on?
When do we let go?
When do we step in to help, and when do we let the chips fall where they may?
This week I had to make the gut wrenching choice to step back and let go. And I do mean gut wrenching.
It hurts to watch your child struggle. I know I’m not the only mother who would much rather endure the heartache and pain of life than to watch her child as she fights to have faith in a God who seems to always be faithful to everyone else.
Oh, how I wish I could take care of it for her. Make it easier. Take away the pain.
But as I fought the fight on my knees, I felt God’s peace take over. I surrendered to his promises for my kids. He has a plan that is for their good, not for their harm. He will come through when we call on him in prayer. (Jeremiah 29:11-12)
I choose to believe that God loves my kids more than I ever could.
I choose to trust His promises.
“Joyful are those who fear the LORD, and delight in obeying his commands.
Their children will be successful everywhere.
An entire generation of godly people will be blessed.” Psalm 112:1-2
I know that when I move out of the way, the Spirit has a chance to move my kids in the way designed for them before the worlds were made.
Just having that knowledge doesn’t make it much easier. Parenting is hard! It’s the most complicated, disturbing, prayer-invoking responsibility I have had. And there’s more to come.
If you have little munchkins now, practice daily letting your kids make small decisions all on their own. If there are consequences, let them feel the pain of them. If there are rewards, celebrate with them wildly!
For those with pre-teens and teens, it’s so important that they sense you are available for guidance in the safety of your love. Our homes should be a place where mistakes are stepping-stones for success. It’s time to start loosening the grip.
Parents of adult children who are reading this probably have a deeper well of wisdom and insight than I do. I welcome your advice!
I love my children more than these words can express. I love them enough to place them in the hands of the One who takes care of them best. I love them so much, that I must step out of the way… and let go.
All of us can benefit from this advice:
“If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.” James 1:5