Learning to let go from the nest.
Have you ever noticed how different our children are? We raise them pretty much the same, but they come out so differently… sometimes as if they were raised in different families. Some are introverts, some extroverts. Some are independent, some are less so. Some are go-getters, some are more timid and harder to encourage out of the nest.
One thing I’ve learned. It is never easy for me when they go, no matter how much I realize that it is a good thing and God’s plan.
We have 2 preparing to fly in the next week or so. They have bought a house together and I’m so proud of them for their care, wisdom and caution in this endeavor.
The other thing I’ve learned is that the greatest gift I can give my adult children is to be sure that I make the transition along with them!
Over the years, I’ve had children thank me for stepping back and letting them make their decisions. They’ve seen other parents micromanaging their adult children’s lives. They’ve seen parents dictate family holidays, where children may live, how often they must come home, etc.
The Chain of Command
When our children were young, we established a chain of command. We ruled the home and set boundaries and responsibilities for our children. As they grew, we took the opportunities more and more to explain the WHYS behind our decisions. We wanted our children to grow in wisdom, not in the wisdom we have but from the mind of Christ. This was often a trying time as our children actually began to reason for themselves and sometimes disagreed with us. But the dialogue was open and it was an opportunity for growth (both theirs and ours!)
This process took years. Helping our children learn to obey. Helping them understand that obeying us was the first step toward obeying God. Not that our decisions were always right, but that our authority to make those decisions came from God. But it was never the old adage: children should be seen and not heard. This is contrary to the path to wisdom and would be foolish for any parent to set that focus in their home.
We wanted our children to learn to obey, even when it was hard, even when they disagreed. This is sometimes the journey God takes us on and it was important for them to learn to obey someone they could see as the first step to obeying God who they can’t.
The Chain of Counsel
But obedience is not the end goal. Not by a long shot! We desired for our children to grow in godly wisdom and to continue to seek wisdom all of their lives. This is when dialogue opened up. And it began when they were young.
When our children were as young as 3 or 4, we taught them that they could say, “May I ask why?” when we gave a command. Sometimes it was quite appropriate for them to ask and for us to instruct. Sometimes it was imperative that they immediately obeyed. But this was the beginning of the next decade or so of more open discussion between us. As they grew older, it was easier for us to sit down and explain the process we used to come to a decision and even to seek out their thoughts. And to bathe these all in prayer. Sometimes we changed, sometimes they accepted our decision. But we grew together and we grew in the Lord.
With our adult children, our goal is no longer to be a chain of command to them (except for them following the basic rules of our home, if they still live here). Our goal is for them to make their own decisions, come to their own conclusions. BUT to be available for godly counsel when they want it.
This is not always easy. But I learned a lot from my own godly mother-in-law in this. We support them, even if they make decisions we never would. We love them even when they find themselves in hard times because of their own choices. And we thank God that He has done the same with us over the years!
Grace, grace and more grace.
This is the center of our home, of our faith and of our parenting. At least this is the GOAL that we aspire to.
How about you? Are you encouraging your children to grow toward a chain of counsel in their adult years or are you holding on beyond where God is authorizing you to?