We grew up. We got married. We had children. We taught them to eat, to crawl, to walk, to talk, and to say please and thank you. We taught them right from wrong and that Jesus loves them.
Then we taught them to read and to write. We taught them to add, subtract, multiply and divide. They learned to tell time and tie shoes. They learned that God is also a God of justice as well as mercy. They learned the Bible and how to sing praises to God.
They learned to deny the flesh and tell a friend no when tempted to do wrong. They also learned how to repent when they didn’t say no to their flesh. They had good moments and bad but we’re proud of them. They worked hard- maybe not as hard as we think they should have- and graduated from high school. They’re adults now.
Do we treat them like it? Have we ever given them a chance to make the wrong decision? Have we ever let them feel the effects of a dumb move? Do we rescue them from themselves before the full weight of their plans have hit?
Or worse, did we abandon them the day they turned 18 and left them scared and wondering what to do- never feeling like they can ask our advice or for our help?
Where is that balance? We have a generation of radically educated children who are entering adulthood. They’re really the second generation of children to graduate… the first are now homeschooling their own children. These kids rarely wondered if mom and dad were going to get in trouble for homeschooling. They didn’t worry about extra-curricular activities unless it was to prune down the choices.
Some families aren’t giving their children much guidance. They figure that they “raised their kids right” and it’s time for them to stretch those wings. Other families don’t seem to understand the concept of adult “children” in the home. I think it is time for a balance.
What both sides of the spectrum need is to understand how to live “moderately” in this arena of life. Our adult children ARE adults. We exasperate them if we try to keep them living as children doing “childish things” now that they are “men.” On the other hand, we’re to bear one another’s burdens. The older women are to instruct and disciple the younger women. The younger men are to look up to he older men and one presumes, learn from them.”
How effective is our parenting if we fail to prepare for them to stand on their own feet? What better place for them to do that standing than while they’re still “in our kitchen.” Do we really want to keep them in a “walker” as long as they’re in our house and then shove them into their own home without the walker? (Terrible example but you know what I mean.)
I have an eighteen year old daughter. She’s been making most of her own decisions for almost two years. She checks with us on everything but unless it’ a BAD idea, we don’t interefere. So far, we’ve never said NO but one or two ideas we did point out weren’t something we could agree with. She opted not to do them after further thought. I was really happy about that and, I confess, feeling quite smug until that sinking feeling in my stomach that said, “Would you be just as supportive and loving if she chose to do what was contrary to your preferences?”
Frankly, had I not thought of that BEFORE it happened, I can’t guarantee I would have. I would probably have had a LOUSY attitude- at least at first. If my child opted to SIN- to make a choice 100% contrary to scripture (marry an unbeliever, commit fornication and/or adultery, show disrespect for authorities in her life etc) then, no I can’t support that but I can still respond with love and without treating her in ways I’d never treat a stranger much less my adult child.
I hear wives repeatedly pleading for husbands who will “love them as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” Yet, I also hear those same mothers who refuse to live with their adult children in “an understanding way.” Instead, they continue to treat those children as though they’re still dealing with a twelve year old. A child old enough to really help around the house but still kept vulnerable to the whim of their parents.
I think that one of the most important things is to define terminology such as honor, respect, obey, submit, and other terms that we toss around when discussing these topics. If we aren’t careful, we’ll find that what we have is adults who are perpetual teenagers.
We’re the parents of the leaders of the church and our communities of tomorrow. If we want them to embrace those roles, we’ve got to let them TRY. We have to treat them like the adults they are. We wouldn’t want our parents to dictate our choices, we really need to show the same respect for our children who are now coming into their adult “own.”