There is a time when your little one needs you for everything. They cry and you attend to their need. They stumble and you scoop them up and fix their pain. Their joy, sorrow, fear, worry, and anger is all yours because they are an over-extension of you!
And then all of a sudden…….they’re not.
They stop telling you how they’re feeling or what they’re thinking and calls from teachers, parents, or neighbors inform you instead. You start to wonder if their days at school really are that “good” and whether their friends are kind, generous, and supportive.
You might wonder all these things and then decide to show up on the “inside”. You’ll volunteer for a class, tutor some kids, or chaperone a trip. Maybe these experiences will grant you answers to how your child feels at school. Maybe they won’t. Either way, the underlying truth remains: our children will eventually severe the cord and experience life on their own.
This is the physics of life.
Intellectually I know this independence is normal (and obviously I don’t want my kids living in my basement when they’re 40!), BUT it still hurts a little (okay a LOT) when they start to pull away. Yet, what choice do we have? We can either give them the space they need to learn and grow, OR we can interfere with the physics of life and stall the process.
Newton’s Third Law says that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. This is just a fancy way for saying that we all have choices and those choices cause different reactions. Thus, we can either choose to control our children (out of fear and love), OR we can surrender to the forces that be (out of fear and love). Both choices are motivated by the same impetus, but both cause different reactions, don’t they?
For example, when I attended my first grader’s field trip recently and she gave me the cold shoulder and I saw how she’s still kind of (really) socially awkward and doesn’t have a place among her peers yet, I had two choices:
1. I could try and control the situation and make her sit by me (and dress up later like Sting and spy on her behind the trees),
2. I could surrender control and pray that the foundation I’ve created with her is enough to keep our relationship strong.
Obviously the second option is better (unless you really like Sting……and stalking…….in which case there’s a whole other matter to discuss), BUT if we are to choose option 2, what does full surrender look like?
To me, it looks a lot like this picture (minus the spinning wheel and petticoat and slow burning fire….Okay, I guess it’s only the hands and knees part that resonates but less I digress…..)
It’s me, on hands and knees, surrendering my child to God and saying, This is your daughter. How would YOU have me parent her?
I do this because it’s impossible for me to think that I can control every situation OR be included on every life experience. And because I so desperately want my children’s lives to be rich and full — when I’m not present — I have to let them go BUT “stay close” in prayer.
Here they are, Father. They are yours.
I therefore encourage us all to surrender our children to God today. They’re not really ours anyway.
And because he gave us our children, I really do believe that he can do SO MUCH MORE with them than even we could do on our best of days. I believe this, because I believe in God’s perfect love.
We know how much God loves us and we have put our trust in his love. 1 John 4:16
So put your trust (and your children) in the loving embrace of your Father. And remember, prayer works! It’s the best weapon we have as parents. I, personally, am praying that God will tell me HOW to parent my oldest child; that he will tell me HOW to connect with her and HOW to love her best. I’m also praying for her emotional, physical and spiritual safety, as well as her intimacy WITH him and with me! I am praying all of these things because my fear is great, but my love for her (and the Lord) are greater. And #lovewins right? (Not physics, sorry Newton, I know you’re kind of a thing.) Yes. LOVE wins.
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in TRUTH.
1 John 3:18
This is me and my oldest at that field trip I mentioned above. I didn’t force her to sit next to me but I DID force her to take a selfie with me. 🙂 She’s also the little peanut in the featured photo — from 3 weeks to 7 years!!! Where does the time go??!