This just happened too fast. Yesterday I was changing diapers and today I am buying sheets (extra long) for a dorm bed. My last child leaves in four weeks for college and the dreaded “empty nest” is right around the corner.
While I really don’t know where the time has gone, I do know I am so very grateful for the time I have had with my children at home. Sure, I wish I had done some things differently, made a few better choices, and spent more time with each of my children. I should have listened more and lectured less, and all the rest of the things on my regrets list. But truth be told, we haven’t done too bad. My children are able to think critically, act independently and take responsibility. They make good choices and are both helpful and useful to those around them. They love and respect their mom and even check in with their old dad on a regular basis!
I would like to take credit for this, but know I cannot. The truth is my wife and I chose, even before our first was born, to raise our children according to God’s direction and to share raising them with like-minded friends. We have prayed for them every day, deferred our “rights” to those God believes is right and sought the counsel, and support, of parents who went before us and raised great kids. We see parenting as both a right and a privilege and have worked at it every day. We are not “holy rollers” or “religious extremist” but we have taken to heart the Lord’s direction regarding love, respect, justice, grace, forgiveness, service, truth, work and a host of other life skills He teaches in His book, the Bible. Old fashioned? I don’t think so. Structured, balanced, honest, caring, trustful, fun and responsible–you bet! Proverbs 15:33 tells us that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and that humility comes before honor. It’s a verse we have tried to live by.
Advice, I guess I have a little, but most of all I would say to just love people like Jesus did. Take the time to learn His leadership model and concepts and then just apply them to your life. The model is not complex, it goes like this: Spend the time to develop real relationships, share real world life skills, talk about ideas and concepts, hold those you love accountable for living what they have learned, pray (a lot), and finally, find situations for your kids to practice what they are learning.
Too often we talk about issues, concepts and ideas without a practical means of letting our kids try them out. Put them in the position to use their knowledge then spend your time catching them doing things right! Praise often, correct when needed, and continuously remind them of their incredible value and worth. Be a parent—every day.
I am not looking forward to the drive home after dropping my son off this fall. My heart is sad just thinking about it. I know he is excited, I know he is able, and I know he is ready. He, like his sister, will make a difference with his life. I say this with confidence because of the knowledge of his relationship with Christ. He knows the truth and he knows how to live truth. However, I will miss having him around. I have come to value his opinion and to enjoy his sense of humor and cutting the grass is going to take a whole lot longer. I remember the same sense of loss dropping my daughter off three years ago. But, it’s not about me…it never was. It is their time to grow and shine, and my time to cheer them on!
The issue is really all about maturity. Growing our children (and ourselves) is the goal and there is a plan that works! If you would like to learn more about parenting according to Jesus Christ’s model of leadership (we call it RCAPS: Relationship, Content, Accountability, Prayer, and Situations or Structures) click here.
I welcome your comments about releasing your children. Please comment below and share your experience, challenges and advice