For some reason we parents believe that we can exhale after surviving our children’s teen-age years. Not so much…
The concerns that we had when they were infants, toddlers, school age and even those terrifying teen-age years when they learned to drive, date and become young men and women pale in comparison to the level of concern a mother has when they become legal-age adults. We’ve prayed, nurtured, sacrificed, lost our cool and wept, all in the attempt to secure a successful, fulfilling, God-honoring future for our babies. Honestly because we can’t press the rewind button in our lives, when they grow up we have to let them make their own decisions. It would be nice to say, “let’s just do this over” because I’ve learned some better parenting skills that might insure a better outcome. That’s not going to happen. We’ve made mistakes as their parents and they will make mistakes also. Mistakes are a part of our imperfect lives. However the God who is faithful is well able to take care of our children. Trusting God with the lives of your grown children will grow your faith. If a mom has no relationship with God I don’t have any answers for her. For me, the grace of God is the first thing that I’m certain, kept me and my girls. I tried my best to prepare them for the “real world”. My best intentions were futile wishes without the grace of God.
It is heart-breaking to see some of the mistakes that they make. But, we have to let them make the mistakes and experience the consequences. This is where trusting God with “His children” becomes an unwavering must. It would be wonderful if we could somehow run ahead of them and eliminate all the temptations, trials and tests they will face. Unfortunately that is not real life.
My babies are 31 and 40. (Yikes, I think I just hinted at my age!) I have prayed for them more now that they are adults than I did when they were children. The influence that I had when they were young is not the same as it is now. When they were children I could just tell them what to do. When they grew up, I needed to let them come to me for advice. They didn’t want to hear my condescending, unsolicited two cents worth. When they ask my opinion now, I choose my words prayerfully and carefully.
It is vital that we demonstrate unconditional love for our children. They are trying to find their way in uncertain times. The internal pressure that they feel as they make decisions is much more difficult for them than it was for us. They need our support, not our judgement.
Another thing that I learned is that I have to provide my children with a “safe place” to work through things. Being judgmental has alienated my girls at times. I could see the danger signs screaming at them to take another road, but my disapproving attitude just ushered them into that wrong choice. Instead of helping them, my attitude could have been the deciding factor in their wrong decision. I have learned to listen to them and to comfort them when things blow up in their faces.
No “I told you sos”! I don’t like that when I make a poor choice. Why should they be any different? My goal is for my girls to be confident in my unfailing love for them. I want them to know that they are deeply loved by their mother.
Another thing that I’m sure of is they need our approval. Approval of them, not always of their actions. They need to know that we will not alter our beliefs however we will love them through whatever ungodly decision they make. We literally have to separate the sin from the sinner. No amount of disapproving grunts, eye-rolling, name-calling or threatening will do the trick. Whatever you do, regardless of the circumstances, NEVER turn your back on your child. We represent the love that the Father God has for all mankind. He has NEVER turned His back on us. We must follow His example. There is no human alive who doesn’t need to feel loved. Our adult children are no different. Honestly, neither are we.
These are a few of my lessons learned. I’ll call them the basics.
1. Have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ
2. Love your grown children unconditionally
3. Show them acceptance and approval
4. Don’t alter your blble based beliefs
5. Practice forgiveness
Finally, if you know that you’ve made some mistakes in word or deed concerning your children…ask God to forgive you, ask your child to forgive you and forgive yourself. Be quick to forgive and make any necessary adjustments. Our lives are but a vapor and regrets are oh so painful. Don’t stop praying for those grown up kids. They need your prayers.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1Corinthians 13:13 NIV