As parents, we all have the potential temptation to hold on too tight.
Out of our great love for them, we make choices in raising them, educating them, and carefully choosing their environments when they are young. Our heart intention is honorable and our motivation is understandable given today’s culture, but our approach can sometimes be off.
One of the challenges I see all parents potentially struggling with, but maybe especially homeschooling parents, is the temptation to hold on too tightly to our children.
I am not referring to the protection we are responsible for providing them when they are young. I personally believe, that in today’s culture if you are accused of overprotecting your children, you are probably parenting more on track biblically, than not.
This is an aspect of parenting that is often times totally counter-cultural.
The way the world parents is hands-off when children are young, and then a tightening of the reins with rules, curfews, and violations of privacy when they are young adults. This is classic reactive parenting, in my opinion.
Reactive parents struggle because they have the process backward.
Biblical parenting acknowledges that a child is born with a sinful nature and that if left untrained, the child will choose and act selfishly, developing habits reflective of a self-focused motivation and an emotional survival of the fittest mentality.
Biblical parenting sees sin for what it is, calls it what it is, and teaches the child how to overcome the temptation to sin empowering them to live in the freedom of Christ.
When we have a Biblical worldview of our child, their nature, and the world we live in, we can see the need for empowering our children with the tools necessary to making wise decisions so that they don’t become distracted by the selfishness and veer off God’s path.
Proactive parenting recognizes that if we instruct our children in the ability to exercise self-control or the power of mind over feelings when they are young, then instead of putting on more rules, we will find ourselves giving freedom and privileges instead because of how our children will surprise us with maturity and trustworthiness.
We need to be wise as serpents, and gentle as doves, in regards to how we interact with the world and how we teach our children to interact with it as well.
Teaching our children to interact with the world means they have to get some practice and they definitely need “age appropriate” teaching on what our culture is like. As a homeschooling parent, I have found it is easy to enjoy the blessed life of teaching what my children are interested in most, adapting curriculum to meet their interests and what they are “delighted” in, but I have learned it is also my job to proactively teach them about the world which we live in. Preparing them with wisdom from the scriptures on how to choose friends, to be aware and wary of false teachers, to lead and be careful in who they allow to influence them.
I have seen homeschooled children grow up without a vision for their lives and I have seen some of these children rebel after years of work on their parents part. They had well intentioned, godly parents, who love the Lord and thought they were doing all they could to raise up disciples, but somehow their child decided not to choose Christ. Why?
I believe it could be a number of different things. Obviously, it is not all going to be summed up here today. However, there is a problem all parents are tempted to struggle with that can push your children away… it’s holding on too tightly when they are growing up.
I know the temptation is great for parents, I understand the temptation on a personal level as well, but we must remember that our children are not ours. They are the Lord’s.
They were His gift to us, He chose us to raise them, He blessed our lives by loaning them to us, for a season. He has blessed us in so many spiritual ways by gifting us with the privilege to raise them.
As parents, our job will never be “done,” our privilege will continue throughout their lives.
However, if God has called your child to the Mission field, if that is what He created them to do, are you ready to let them go?
Or, is your identity confused and are you somehow finding your worth and value in your parenting?
Making family an idol is a temptation I see many families making.
We need to take our responsibility of mother and father seriously, purposefully, but we also need to have our identities found in who we are in Christ Jesus, not in who we are as mom or wife.
God does not like us to have ANY idols in our lives, in fact He hates it. We need to keep our priorities in check.
If we fail to seek God first and we make an idol out of our role and relationships to our children, then we are sure to fall.
As for preparing our hearts, we need to hold our children with open hands… they are God’s. We need to protect, train, discipline, educate, enjoy, and love them; but we also need to help them discover what God’s will is for their life, apart from what we may want.
As a mom of both young adults, young children, and babes, I want to share with you how I am preparing my heart to let my children embrace and pursue God’s path for their lives, aside from what I might think is best.
I am still raising my children, but I want exhort and encourage fellow mothers to join me in purposefully preparing our hearts to one day let them go.
As moms, we have to be courageous prepare our minds and hearts to let them live the purposes that God created them for and not hold them back.
If we raise our children and don’t introduce them to missional living, if we don’t prepare them for obey their calling, if we don’t share a heart for missions, if we don’t ever go on a missions trip with our child, then it will be harder to let them go when they are called.
Selfishly, all parents want to hold on tightly to their children, but we need to embrace God’s design. They will one day, leave us to cleave to their wife/husband. So Let’s raise them purposefully, let’s be aware of their heart attitudes, let’s read the scriptures with them, study the Word of God, teaching them His wisdom, so we can give them a solid foundation to launch them from.
Let’s purposefully choose not to let family become an idol in our lives. Let’s prepare them to do what they were created for and prepare our hearts for letting them obey God.