Parenthood is not a role for wimps or whiners. There are the exciting times such as music recitals, sports tournaments, and graduations. But if your tribe is like ours, you've probably also had the maddening moments, like the time one of our children discovered how to unfasten the tapes on his diaper and used the contents as "chalk" on the bedroom wall (yes, it was "his," so that narrows the field of suspects).
Children are young for a few blinks, and then we spin around and we're hearing "Pomp and Circumstance," that familiar graduation march as our "babies" walk down the aisle in cap and gown. If they choose to go on to college, four snaps later, we're sitting in the auditorium at their college graduation, scanning a long list of names in the commencement bulletin while waiting to watch them walk across the platform to receive yet another diploma. It's warp-speed fast (except that diaper stage).
Parents don't mind taking responsibility for the good things, but we may be too quick to take the blame for poor outcomes. There are no perfect parents, so we cannot engage in perfect parenting. There is also a flip side to that coin: there are no perfect children, so they cannot grow up into flawless adults.
Do you have a young adult who is making poor choices? You are not responsible for that.
Has your young person decided that they don't really need God, let alone church? If they have determined that church is optional, you are not responsible for their choice. And if you're careful, you won't make matters worse by harping and needling them. Prayer works way better than nagging.
Has one of your adult children chosen to engage in an immoral relationship? Immorality may be popular in our culture, but you are not responsible for that.
Even though our parenting is faulty, it doesn't extend to the choices our children make as adults. We influence our children, but we do not enforce their adult choices. Certainly we can all think of decisions that we would change if we could hit a "delete" key for a do-over. I can't even count how many times I've thought, "So THIS is what I put my Mom through when I was a young adult..."
People make choices at every stage of life. Christian parents are responsible for teaching and training how to make wise choices, using the Bible as a foundation. We are also role models, which in many ways makes us "homeschool teachers" as our children watch how we handle the issues of life. "My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways" is basically a verse that says, "Watch how I do life."' (Proverbs 23:26)
Our "Training Manual" is the Bible, and we have a responsibility to teach the precepts and principles, as well as how to apply them to daily living. And while we're at it, we must emphasize and magnify the Lord, and how He is worthy of glory, honor, and praise. We need to balance fear of the Lord with love of the Lord, not one without the other. Unfortunately, the best training still comes from flawed trainers (us), and does not equal an insurance policy against unwise choices.
In fact, sometimes young people from homes where parents invested the most have the strangest outcomes. It is so easy to take things for granted when a person doesn't comprehend the significance of their Christian heritage. A godly Christian home is a gift, but since gifts are free, value is often underestimated and extremely underrated.
When the Bible is abandoned and God is cast aside, people tend to carve out paths filled with potholes and lined with deep ditches. When they end up in the ditch, who do they usually call?
Mom. Sometimes Dad, but more often than not, Mom gets the call.
And what does Mom usually do?
She starts the rescue mission.
Here's another option: Hold that rescue effort and let your child take the Consequences-101 course in the University of Adversity. Consequences are side effects of choices, either good or bad. If we are constantly running ahead, throwing pillows down over the potholes, how will our young people ever experience the pain related to their decisions and develop an appetite for wise living? We need to commit our children to the Lord in daily prayer, no matter how they're living. He is not only better at loving them, but He also has the ability to direct and redirect their steps. And God is not floored by misbehavior. After all, He put up with us, didn't He?
God is the Master Trainer, and He knows which "life-classes" we need. In fact, Pain Education is a class that we all take on a rotating basis: "It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes." (Psalm 119:71) The Scripture clearly tells us that affliction is a learning tool. Painful experiences due to poor decisions are tremendously educational, and they often serve to repel us from repeating similar mistakes.
Mom, please step aside and let the Lord provide the needed education in the life of your child.
Young adults are old enough to make choices, and if they are willing, they will also learn valuable lessons. Their direction in life is related to their decisions, just as it is for us. And if your child has a high pain tolerance, the process of learning to follow God may be slow. Cover your eyes, drop to your knees, and lift up your children in earnest, fervent prayer. Here are some valuable things to include in our prayers for our young people:
- Pray for God's mercy: "Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord, even thy salvation, according to thy word." (Psalm 119:41)
- Pray for your child to gain understanding: "Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart." (Psalm 119:34)
- Pray for their eyes to be opened to the truth: "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." (Psalm 119:18)
- Pray for God to "order their steps" and to free them from the bondage of sin: "Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me." (Psalm 119:133)
Love them. Train the as well as possible. Pray for them daily. Parents are responsible for that.
But once they become adults, quit trying to fix them. That's not our area of expertise.