When my oldest son, Cory, first learned to walk, I released my hands from his entwined fingers and encouraged his wobbly, independent steps. On the first day of preschool, releasing came in waving goodbye from the doorway. I ventured into the rainy morning while Cory stayed behind surrounded with new friends, toys and influences.
Soon came sleepovers and dances, driving lessons and youth mission trips. Each level forced me to step back, as my son stepped forward to autonomy.
While dreaming about our children’s futures is easy, the actually steps of letting go are more difficult. Is he ready to stay overnight? Can she stand up to her peers? Does he have what it takes to make it in this world?
Letting go and encouraging independence is our job as parents—and it’s our kids’ job to fight for the same.
“It’s healthy and natural to fight against becoming a clone of our parents,” says Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls (Zondervan, 2005). “Even if children have the most mature, godly parents possible, God created them unique and different from us. A child’s striving for independence is a natural process of discovering who they were designed to be.”
I have to remind myself of this . . . often. It’s natural for Alyssa to want to sleep in her own bed at nap time instead of snuggling with me. It’s fine that my eighteen-year-old son wants to talk to his older brother about the young woman he likes, rather than to me—his mom. God will watch over my twenty-year-old daughter during the two months she’ll be living overseas this summer. It’s perfectly OK to listen to my twenty-three-year-old’s career plans without having to give my input continually. It is.
What letting go comes down to is encouraging our children’s dependence away from us and onto dependence on God. Now that my son Cory is married and a dad himself, nothing brings me more pleasure than seeing him walking his baby boy through the beginning stages of life.
Cory’s fingers that once entwined mine no longer need me for security and support, but my job as a mother is not over. My prayers go up for his continual growth as a man and a father.
What about you? What “growing season” is your child in? How are you dealing with it? How is God helping you deal with it?