I need to ask you something. Do you worship your kids? Not in the way that you’d worship God or a Chik-Fil-a sandwich, but in a “I love you so much that you are my whole life” way.
Being someone’s whole life is a lot of pressure, don’t you think?
Do you cling to your kids? Dream of what their future may be? Shape their social life and schedule their free time to give them the best shot at success? Did you dream aloud about their future and did it include you?
When they got older and started pulling away, did you blame yourself? Did you try to hold on tighter and become clingy in their presence? Does this sound familiar: “Why don’t you ever eat dinner with the family anymore?” “I just want to spend time with you!” Or, “How come we don’t talk like we used to?”
Around the beginning of the school year I start to notice posts from mothers desperate to cling to their aging children. (I say mothers because I’m sure fathers feel it, but don’t necessarily write about it on social media.) I hear it in my classroom when students talk about having to go home on the weekend to appease parental expectations and I see it on their faces when they get multiple texts from mom in the middle of class. The slight eye roll and shallow exhale of breath. As in, what now?
August 23rd I read this in a daily devotional entitled Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. Young writes in her introduction that her words are carefully prayed over and linked to scripture. In any case, it hit me square between the eyes.
I know the feeling of holding on too tight to a child. Of squeezing a man-child so tightly to try to form him into our image of a “successful kid” that he slipped right through our fingers and out the door.
And now we are grandparents half a continent away.
They are much safer with me than in your clinging hands.
The phrase undisciplined emotions stopped me short. What does this look like regarding our kids? Do we idolize their potential and wax poetically about their future? Do we try to set them up for the good life while we sacrifice our time, money, marriage and personal pursuits?
What if we, instead of climbing their way to the top for them, show them the way and say: Go. Try. Fail.
What if we stopped idolizing our kids and their futures and start releasing them–little by little–to the world and God’s hand?
What if we thought of ourselves as mere stewards of our kids instead of owners of their lives?
These are questions with which I struggle, lest you think I’m giving advice to anyone but myself.