Protecting Our Children Day 6: Letting Go
I’ve written these articles from the perspective of a father with Christian children. I can only imagine the associated worries and thoughts parents have with unbelieving children that are hitting adulthood. I used to let my mind go there prior to our oldest girl’s getting God’s salvation. The relief was as real as the joy. A parent will probably never lose the protective instinct, but the ability to protect them diminishes over time. So, while we can, we protect them as best we can. They won’t appreciate it now, but in protecting them, we have every reason to do some things they may not like. We might monitor their internet usage or review their social media content. We might “interview” a person they want to date. We might ask them questions that make them squirm. But we aren’t doing it because we’re nosy—we’re doing it because we care.
There will come a point, though, that we must be willing to let them go. As much as I hate even thinking about it, I know that time is coming. At that point, we can only hope that we have guided them well and that they’ll make good decisions. They might not, and we still need to love them regardless.
Considering all this, we as parents can hold to the truth Solomon wrote: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6, ESV). The actual sense of the passage is better put this way—it will not depart from him/her. They’ll remember what you taught them. I remember what my parents taught me. If we guide them correctly, they’ll remember it even if they ignore it.
For those of us with children who are Christians, we can hold on to the comfort of the words of Jesus: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28, ESV). I had a wooden plaque made for my wife a few years ago. On it are the names of the five in our immediate family, the dates we became Christians, and the verse of Scripture we can point to as proof. In addition, these two precious words are on it: “Together forever.” No matter what choices my children make—and I pray they make the right ones—we will be together forever.
I was recently listening to a new song by Bethany Barnard (“Comfort” from All My Questions). The tender refrain at the close of a grief-filled album was this: “We will always be with the Lord.” Thank you, Lord. You’ve been better to me than I could ever have imagined.