Parenthood is permanent—a lifelong identity, an ongoing sacred trust, the bond that just will not quit. Year after year, we keep carrying our grown children close to our hearts, caring deeply about their well-being. We may lean toward attempting to assert our parental authority rather than letting go of our children and respecting their independence.
I asked a friend about this. He described the specific turning point in his attitude about his children’s independence. “That’s easy! The day they got their driver’s licenses.” Then he added, “For years I felt a certain sense of control as a parent based on the role God had given me. Childrearing, though demanding, was a privilege—as satisfying and personally rewarding as my wife and I have ever had. The big moment came when it was time for each child to drive. I spent hours talking about cars, speed limits, driving defensively, and the rules of the road. The inevitable moment when I handed over the keys and waved good-bye made me feel proud and queasy all at once. I knew I wouldn’t always be responsible for making choices for my children, but I was used to exercising my authority as their Dad. Their driving independence represented risks beyond my fatherly control.”
Perhaps you can relate to the defeated little fellow I saw in the airport terminal. Everything about his mom’s expression said, “Hurry up! We have to run if we’re going to make the connection.” The big brothers could keep up. But the little guy? He tried his best to match his mom’s pace, but he just couldn’t. Can you relate? Have you ever felt like you can’t quite keep up with your kids every step of the way? The great news is that God can run with our children when we can’t keep up any more.
Are you willing to believe God will do what you cannot do for yourself and your family?
Understand that perfect parenting is impossible.
Accept God’s forgiveness for your mistakes.
Give yourself credit for the things you did right and are doing well.
Cast your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 (ESV) We may stumble but we won’t collapse. With God at our side, we live a life in which the Bible says we are anxious for nothing, we are praying always; a life in which Paul says, we are … giving thanks to God the Father through Him! Philippians 4:6 (ESV)
It is as impossible to be a perfect parent as it is to be a perfect young adult. As our children grow up, it can be so hard for us to let go of our role as parents. A young friend shared this letter with me.
Dear Mom and Dad, I’m almost thirty now. I love you but I feel like you still treat me like your kid. I wish you would see me as an adult, see the good and amazing parts of me as well as those things that aren’t as great. The things that frustrate or irritate you are the things we don’t agree on. I wish you would focus on what’s positive, my strengths instead of my weaknesses. Don’t forget, I’m doing my best. And please listen to me. I’ll try to do all of the same things for you. Love, Lee
Young adults want to take the wheel and direct their own lives. They’re supposed to do this. It’s comforting knowing that God will be there with them when we have to let go.