Years ago, when I was in the thick of doing life with my kids, another parent told me that letting your kids go is the hardest part of parenting, because you can’t control their choices anymore.
That’s true. And trying to hang on to control only messes things up.
But it’s easier said than done to release our kids and allow them to be individuals that think and decide for themselves. We want guarantees. We want our kids to make the choices we would make.
But children are not robots that we program. They are human beings, with the power of choice that is impacted by a variety of factors besides our parenting:
The experiences life throws at them.
The way other people treat them.
The things they choose to expose themselves to.
Their own characters.
While we can determine how we parent and to some extent the friends our kids choose and what they are exposed to, we can’t control everything.
And we shouldn’t – once they are young adults.
God was the perfect parent, with the perfect parenting plan, yet He gave Adam and Eve the freedom to choose whom they would obey.
God did not force or use fear to manipulate Adam and Eve. He gave freedom.
But with freedom comes risk.
God gave us the perfect example of how to parent. It’s a plan parents can follow, BUT it carries no guarantee that our kids will do exactly as we think they should.
What went wrong? Betrayal doesn’t seem possible in such a perfect environment, with such a perfect parent.
Does the fact that Adam and Eve chose to sin mean that God’s parenting failed?
No. It means He “raised” children free to choose. He desired to be loved and obeyed because Adam and Eve wanted to, not because they were programmed to or forced to.
Our goal, as parents, is to raise children who are free to choose God, or not.
We cannot force them to choose, but we can do our part by following God’s perfect parenting plan.
However, there’s more to this plan than meets the eye. We can’t just drift along doing whatever we think is OK, or whatever comes naturally.
We must read, study, pray, work on our own characters, study our children, pray some more, shed tears, confess our mistakes and apologise for them, give consequences, listen to our kids, talk with them, spend fun time with them, warn them, give them space to make choices, and pick them up when they fall.
Does that sound intense? It is. And it should be, because our children’s salvation is at stake.
Because, though we cannot save our children, how we raise them impacts their salvation. Our parenting has eternal consequences.
Another reason to put intense effort into parenting is so that one day we can look back with no regrets, knowing that we did do our best – in spite of failures and mistakes.
(Just a caution: many parents wash their hands of all guilt, telling themselves they did their best, when in reality they did not put much effort or prayer into parenting.)
God was the perfect parent and we fall far short of that, but if we’ve done our part with an honest, sincere heart, and confessed our mistakes to God and our children, then we can rest in peace, knowing God will never forsake one for whom Jesus died. He will do all in His power to save our children.
If we have truly done our best we can release the responsibility for our adult children’s salvation and let God be responsible.
If you are the parent of adult children, are there things you would go back and change? What do you wish your parents had done differently?