I have heard it said that our children never really belong to us, that God only lends them to us for a little while.
This rings true. I think that a large part of being a mother is about learning how to let go. As soon as they learn to walk, it seems as if our little ones are dead-set on running away from us. A little each day, each month, each year, we see our children move a little further away and in the process, become more themselves. It is difficult for moms to allow children independence and room to grow into the people they are meant to be, because we know from our own experience that this growth often involves pain.
Mothers naturally want to shield little souls from hurt. And when they get hurt, we want to make everything all better. However, there are some boo-boos that even a mother’s kiss cannot heal. Although the temptation is strong to uproot our little sprouts from the garden of life and keep them sheltered in our greenhouse forever, this does not benefit them in the long run. We should instead tend to our little sprouts and cultivate them out in the weather where they grow. This way, little plants can develop a tough cuticle as they extend those branches and unfold their leaves toward the light.
One of my favorite songs is “Let Me Be Your Armor” by Assemblage 23. Go ahead and google the lyrics (or search for it on www.assemblage23.com), and you will see how this song seems to describe parental protection – and how this “protection” can go too far. Now, maybe I am really off base regarding Tom Shear’s intent with this song, but that is how the lyrics resonate with me as a mother.
When all is said and done, all we as parents can do is prepare our children to endure trials bravely in faith, by being present and modeling this behavior ourselves.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (KJV)
God always has the best advice, doesn’t He? The trick is following His advice, and to do that, one needs to find “the way” in His Word.
The truth is, we cannot always protect our children from harsh reality or prevent them from making mistakes. Sometimes, all we can do is guide them through the consequences of their sins and poor decisions. As painful as it is to watch the pruner’s shears at work, we have to allow our little sprouts some freedom to learn from their mistakes – shed that dead wood – so that they can blossom into their own individual.
In case you hadn’t noticed, I love metaphors involving plants and flowers.
In a nutshell, what I am trying to say is this: don’t be a helicopter parent! Yes, parents should protect their children from harm but there are times when it is not appropriate to hover over them and shield them from the consequences of their actions.
The time comes when mom can no longer make decisions for her kid. She has to let them decide for themselves. This is painful to watch sometimes, but necessary. As they grow, children need to know that they have some freedom to make their own choices. This way, they learn more about being independent day by day.
Even if that means that the shirt they choose to wear happens to clash horribly with the pants!