Hello Beautiful Sparrows! God has recently been telling me, “Give it away” and that is just what I am doing! I’ve invited some beautiful souls from my favorite Facebook community for women in the 50+ season of life, The Consilium: A Collective Where Wisdom Meets Grace. Enjoy the words from their hearts and, if you don’t mind, would you give my friend, Holly a hug by leaving a comment and giving a share or a tweet? And come on over to The Consilium – we would love to see you there!
When I was a teenager, I always thought that arriving at adulthood would be very momentous. As if I’d walked through a door and someone yelled “Ta Da!” and I would know I was there. Instead I kinda slid into adulthood, marrying before I finished college, followed by children and mortgage and cars and cats in just a few short years. Now those kids are grown and I find myself as the mother of two adult children when I hardly feel old enough to be called an adult myself.
How did that happen?
One of the hardest things to navigate as we age is allowing our children to become their own persons, to make their own decisions and then to be responsible for those decisions. We love them so much and want to protect them, even when they are fully grown. As my own children have grown, gone off to the military, deployed, married, had children, and filled a myriad of other “adult” roles, I sometimes find myself living in fear of the potential consequences they might face. I can so relate to what the father of the lost son must have felt.
There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, “Father, give me my share of the estate.” So he divided the property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. Luke 15:11-13
Now your child may not have gone off and squandered their wealth in wild living…but how many of us have been afraid that would happen? When it’s time for them to strike out on their own, our minds are filled with all the things that could go wrong.
My own children have navigated these years pretty well. They’ve made some decisions that I wanted to be made differently. And they’ve squandered some finances…thankfully their own, not mine…but nonetheless I worried about how they were going to meet their obligations! And they’ve been involved a a couple of situations that made my heart sad for them. But here we are, managing the final years of their twenties with as few dents and scratches as possible. Whew!
The years of adult children come quickly while our mama-hearts sometimes have trouble letting go. I’d like to share three suggestions with you that have been invaluable to me as my children have walked into their own adulthood.
Stay on my knees. I can hear you all saying, “Duh!” In fact a suggestion to pray may even make you want to scream, “Do you know how long and how hard I’ve been praying?!” The encouragement I want you to hear is that your prayers are being heard. One of the reasons I faced fears for my children’s young adult years is because I was the “lost daughter.” My parents and their friends prayed for me for 10 years. That’s some faithfulness in prayer right there! Some of you have been praying even longer than that, I know. But don’t stop now. My parents didn’t know on April 20th of a certain year that their prayers would be answered on April 21st. Don’t ever give up!
Stop banging the gavel of judgment. I’ve had to remind myself on more than one occasion that my children are fully-functioning, self-supporting adults. It is not my job anymore to make their decisions or to approve of them. It is my job to love them. To empower them to make better decisions by being a sounding board and not a jury. Instead, let me encourage you to find areas of strength in them to support and be proud of. And to let them know that. All of which leads to the next suggestion…
Start listening more. Child-rearing is full of talking. We make the rules, we communicate the rules, we monitor the rules, and we talk about the rules when they’ve been broken! Now is the time to listen. It’s hard to hear things from our children that we would rather not know, but that’s better than hearing nothing! Let me encourage you to give your young adults a place where they know they can be open and honest even when they know we are going to disagree. That’s the only way I know to retain the right to continue speaking into their lives.
There are not a lot of details about what the father in Jesus’ parable did while his son was gone, but Luke gives us a couple of clues,
…while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20
He was a long way off and his father saw him. The power of prayer.
His father was filled with compassion for him. Giving up the right to judge.
His father ran to him and hugged and kissed him. Being willing to listen.
While every situation is different and some situations are harder than others, please know you are not alone in this part of the journey. Trust that God has a plan and a purpose for your children, even as and maybe especially as, they become adults.
Trust that He is watching over them even as we let them fly.
What has helped you to let your children fly?
Holly Barrett is a Christ-follower, minister, speaker, writer, mother and YaYa from NC. She is also an extreme extrovert who loves to laugh, and enjoys being called Princess Holly. She is after all a daughter of the King! Varied life experiences as a preacher’s kid, survivor of domestic violence, and single mother have given Holly an insight and compassion into the many of life’s challenges. Her passion is connecting people with Jesus and sharing her life’s message of God’s redemption. An extreme extrovert, Holly loves ministering to people and works with young adults as an Assistant Director of Residential Life for The Crossnore School in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of NC. Next to Jesus, Holly’s greatest love is her precious grandbabies and their parents who proudly serve our country in the US Air Force and US Army.