When my eldest was born, I found a quote that I wrote in his baby book: Having a child is like having a piece of your heart walking around outside your body. And boy does it hurt. I have good kids. They haven’t rebelled, they get good grades, they are respectful to us and others, we have a good relationship with them all. But it still hurts to see my almost-an-adult son make decisions contrary to our advice simply because he likes to beat his own head against a wall in order to find out that, hey, that actually does hurt.
So, I have to keep reminding myself of a few things:
1. My son is not me. He will not make the decisions I would make. He will not follow the path I would follow, nor will he follow the path I want him to take. And I have to be alright with that, or it will tear us apart.
2. Don’t worry! I keep telling my son I’m not worrying exactly, I’m just concerned. Semantics, that’s all that is. I have this totally unfounded fear that he’s going to do something to derail his future. He tells me to trust him. I have in the past, so why is it so much harder to do now that he’s got one foot out the door?
3. Keep your hands to yourself. Whatever I do, I need to let him become the man God has made him to be. I stopped making his lunch years ago, I need to stop trying to manipulate things in his life now. He will resent me for it. He is not a baby anymore.
4. Be thankful for the time you get. These days, my son is gone more than he’s here. He has a new girlfriend. He has a job. He still has classes both at his high school and at the nearby college. And I miss him, frankly. We knew this time was going to come, and I thought I was maybe a little bit prepared, but I wasn’t. I’m not. But it will be worse when he actually moves out, possibly out of state, at the very least out of the house. I need to treat this as a year of preparation for the real thing.
5. God is in control. No matter what decisions my son makes, God is ultimately in control of his life. If he misses deadlines for college applications, or isn’t successful in being appointed to the U.S. Air Force Academy, or even decides not to go to college, his life will not be “ruined.” It might not look like we hoped it would look, but God is firmly, ultimately, sovereignly in control.
I keep having to remind myself of these things, and what I said here about how I should be parenting him. Letting go of a piece of my heart isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. It’s the right thing to do.
illustration from theroadtocrazy.blogspot.com