When it came time for my kids to leave home, to spread their wings, to enter the “adult world,” I didn’t think I had done enough to prepare them. They thought they were ready, but I wasn’t so sure.
Anyone else feel this way?
As my three kiddos were growing up, I used to tell them I would always love them, but I wanted others to like them as well. So we worked on social skills, on being kind and considerate, on sharing toys, and on manners at the table. And then, as if overnight, it seemed it was time to evaluate how they turned out. I felt like it was the end of the grading period and a report card was about to be issued.
As you let them go
Here’s the reality. When our children are still under our wings, the jury is still out. Even through the teen and college years, everyone knows there is still hope for the return to equal the investment if we just keep pouring good stuff into them.
But as our children move on to their adult lives, the time is over. Our job is done and it is time for them to either do as we said and did or not do as we said and did. As hard as we try to keep them little, the humans put in our care will grow up and make their own choices in life.
Emotionally, letting go seems harder for us mommas. Our poor kids really can’t win. If they cling to our leg when we drop them off for their first day of school, we’re sad; if they turn and wave as if they don’t care whether we’re there or not, we’re sad. Right?
Well, the first day of school is followed by many more emotional firsts. And, as the old saying goes, “Everything new becomes old,” and the “letting go” process is firmly in place.
When God let go
As I think about letting go, I can’t help but think about God choosing to let go of his son.
God knew that for the good of mankind, he must allow his son to leave the only home he had ever known. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
We would probably be thinking way too highly of our children to think that they might accomplish what Jesus accomplished, but the principle remains the same. If you value the future, you have to be willing to let your children become a part of it.
Metaphorically speaking, it really does begin on the playground with the first push of a swing and tiny hands holding tightly to the chains. Soon, the swing goes a little higher. And we’re more comfortable as we push them up, up, and away.
We all want our children to be responsible contributors to the future of our nation. God looked at the world, in all its sin, and knew the only way to save it would be to let his Son come to earth. I wonder how many days he spent trying to talk himself out of that plan. I wonder if he agonized over simple things like: Would he make friends? Would he like the food? Would he fit in?
That’s what worries us, isn’t it?
Who hasn’t sent a child to school, summer camp, the first day of football or college and not thought of your child’s comfort?
I have to think God thought of it, but he dismissed the worry quickly as he looked at the greater good. In each new adventure, our children are challenged with things like discomfort, but those are the things that will grow them into who God needs them to be.
After you’ve let them go
Letting go also means our relationship with them changes. Our job description changes. We’ve gone from loving and teaching to letting go and trusting to GONE. There’s no more letting go. It is now let live and accept.
This is when we have to find the balance that says you will be happy even though your child may not be. Wow. That’s a hard one.
This is when you have to stay heart-connected even if all of their decisions are not mom-approved. Another hard one.
This is when you have to be content to give them to God and, through your prayers, speak words of life into them.
As we learn to accept and support our adult children in whatever ways we can, we also have to learn to live our lives separate from them. Letting go also means finding a new life for yourself. God has created us so that we want to be productive and needed, and now that our time isn’t kid-centered, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to live productive, God-honoring lives of service as we accept our children where they are and learn to live life somewhat disconnected from them.
Growing an adult is a tough job. There’s no doubt about it! Letting them go into the world is also tough. But, you can do it!
Trust God. Take him at his word. He will always walk right beside you.