I am on my way home from a mother-daughter trip in NYC. It was fab! Four moms. Six girls. The trip was a graduation gift to our eighteen year old daughter. I continue to catch myself referring to her as a teenager. But, in all honesty, she is now a full-grown, young adult.
Able to make decisions on her own
Yet I find myself wrestling. I don’t want to let her go.
I find myself pondering. Did I teach her to fly?
I find myself saddened. Has the time really come?
I have sensed this ever slight distancing. She is ready. She is more than capable to make her own decisions. She is a brilliant, young lady. She has proven herself to be responsible. But still, as a mom, it is sorta hard.
Parenting is a Job
Throughout life, our children go through growing pains. I recall the terrible twos, the terrific threes and the fretful fours. Then came kindergarten when my children wanted to be independent and still, an inward struggle ensued. A wrestling match. It was if they were asking, “Should I stay or should I go?”
You can tell they want to go. They want to make decisions on their own. They want to do it all by themselves. But fear…it creeps along. Capturing their emotions and sending them into a tailspin. I’ve watched children react differently. Some taking it out on their parents. Others crying insolubly. And yes, even those who find drugs or alcohol as their coping mechanism. You can visibly watch the emotions unravel.
But, you can help…
Your job as a parent is never done. Despite the fact Proverbs 22:6 states, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it“…you are not given a pass once they graduate from highschool. The work of a parent doesn’t only apply to grade school…nor middle school, for that matter. It is continual work. Even when they no longer want to listen to you. Even when it is excruciatingly hard.
Talk to you kids.
Let them know that No Matter What…you will be there. No Matter How far they wander…you will welcome them home. No Matter When…you will be willing to make amends. As a parent, we have a tremendous responsibility to be the first ones to take the step towards reconciliation. Even when we don’t think it’s our job. The story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 encourages us to do so. You can find the strength to say you are sorry despite the hurt because, after all, Jesus has done so for you.
Cheer them on.
It was easy to clap your hands uncontrollably when they took their first steps. Somehow, it also seemed natural to wrap your arms around them when they first fell off a bike. But as time passes, it becomes a struggle to kiss the boo-boo’s goodbye. We must continue to cheer them on even when they fail. Pick them back up. Put their feet on solid ground. Rather than focusing on the negative, we must keep our gaze on all the good.
Give them space.
Yes, they are growing up. They are sprouting wings so they can fly. In all of life’s stages, we must teach them responsibility. Simple chores. A curfew. Homework completed on time. And when the day arrives for them to leave home, let them know you are watching…only your watching is from afar. You still care. You will always care. But your work as a parent will look different now.
No longer can you always be right there. You cannot meet their every need. They will go to school. They will have play-dates. They will hang out with friends more than with you. And yes, indeed, they will leave home one day. And although you cannot see everything they do, you can trust the One who does.
Prayer does work. God answers prayer.
What are your greatest parenting struggles?