There comes a time in every parent’s life when their child grows up. For some this is a relief, for others complete misery. As parents of nine children, with our oldest being twenty-two, we are in the throes of launching children into the great big world and we will continue launching for the next eleven years. For my wife and I, this is an exciting time, we get to see the fruits of our labor of love as we have sought to prepare our children to be mature adults who can make a positive impact on the world in which they live.
The Purpose of Parenting
Being open to life and joyfully receiving children from God is only the beginning of being parents. With each new child, additional responsibility is accepted. The responsibility not only to love, clothe and nurture this precious new life, but to prepare that child to one day leave the relative security of the family home. The clothing and feeding of the children are a great responsibility, but nothing compared to the responsibility to prepare them to be mature adults. If you think about it, our goal is to raise saints for the kingdom, the kingdom of God here on earth as well as in Heaven.
If we keep our eyes fixed on the ultimate goal of missionaries to go out into the world, then perhaps when they leave our home, we will feel a little less sad because this is what we were shooting for during the many years when we were forming them to be adults.
Enabling our Children to Achieve Their Full Potential
Each child is different, I know ours are, some like music, some are passionate about math, others about reading, some like to serve others, and some are natural-born leaders. God has bestowed gifts and talents to each child and it is one of our jobs as parents to help our children discover how best to use those gifts. Each of us as parents have a unique personality, set of talents and desires that God gave us to give glory to Him in this life. Hopefully, we are using those gifts in our workplace and in our home. If we are, then our task is to help our children discern the gifts God has given them and then figure out how to launch them into the world to put those gifts to work.
One of the family activities in our Family Fun Day program is to ask each family member which gifts they bring to their family. For many children, this can be a very difficult task, unfortunately some either don’t think they have any talents or don’t feel confident enough to say them out loud for fear of rejection. Your children with strong personalities may have many gifts that they point out about themselves, while the quiet thinkers won’t say a word. If this happens, the rest of the family is encouraged to point out the gifts and good qualities of that child. In our family, we strive to compliment each of our children throughout their lives and point out those gifts that we see in them. If this is being done on a consistent basis while they are growing up, they are better prepared to choose the right path to their career.
Guiding verses Directing
Our role as parents is to assist our children with choosing their path in life.
It is tempting as a parent to make all the right choices for your child, but in the end, it is their life to live, not yours. If you have done everything to the best of your ability during their childhood, then it is best to sit back and watch them spread their wings and fly. Will they falter, most certainly, but that is part of the process of growing up. Your role as a parent evolves into being a consultant, your child needs to know that you love them and that you are there to help them succeed, but you are not going to be able to, nor do you want to, make every decision for them. Remember back to when you left your parents home, remember the excitement of making your way in the world on your own? Or perhaps the memory is a little different, perhaps you were scared to death. Either way, it is a process that every person goes through and it is divinely designed.
Letting go of your children and sending them out into the world can be scary but also very rewarding. It is part of life and one that should be embraced. Our purpose as parents is to keep our eyes on the goal of allowing our children to become adults. Every child is unique, while some may launch easily, some may delay and even resist going out on their own, others may leave and come back. God knows well the plans He has for each of us and His plan is a perfect one, we as parents much trust in the Lord’s providence and in the fact that He loves our children more perfectly than we do. He knew them before he knit them in their mother’s womb and He is the perfect Father who knows every hair on their head. He knows their desires and their dreams and He knows their full potential and what will bring them the greatest joy in their lives. We will be better parents to the extent that we work within God’s plan for our children’s lives and help them to know, love and serve Him in this life and to desire to be with Him in the next.