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Letting Go as They Grow Old

Welcome, everyone! Today, Emma and I want to delve into the topic of letting go as our children grow older. As parents, we often find ourselves in a tug-of-war between granting them freedom and teaching them responsibility. How do our roles and responsibilities evolve as our children enter different stages of life?

Let’s be honest here—we are far from perfect parents. With four kids ranging from twenty to four years old, we have experienced both successes and failures in our parenting journey. Recognizing our imperfections, we rely on God’s grace and seek counsel from others to shape our parenting approach in each new season.

Two decades ago, we had the privilege of sharing meals with two couples—Phindi and Bheki Zulu and Marion and Collin Maher. They were seasoned parents whose children exemplified godliness and strong family values. We eagerly sought their wisdom, asking them how they raised such remarkable kids. Although they couldn’t provide a step-by-step guide, they shared four essential principles that shaped their parenting. These principles, remarkably similar in both couples, have since become foundational for us.

Let’s dive into these four key points:

1. Keeping the Main Thing, the Main Thing

The first principle our friends emphasized was to keep the main thing, the main thing. This concept resonated deeply with us. It means maintaining a laser-like focus on what truly matters—raising children who live lives worthy of God’s calling and bring glory to His kingdom. As parents, we must constantly ask ourselves, “How does this decision, discipline, or guidance align with our ultimate goal?”

For instance, when faced with choices like sports or hobbies, we must resist the temptation to impose our preferences or traditions on our children. Instead, we should encourage them to pursue activities that align with their God-given talents and passions, allowing them to thrive and glorify God through their unique abilities.

Remember, our primary responsibility is to prepare our children to advance God’s kingdom and reflect His glory. By keeping this overarching purpose in mind, we approach parenting decisions with sanity, simplicity, and joy.

2. Embracing Honesty and Humility

The second principle our friends shared was the importance of honesty and humility. Our children already know we’re not perfect, so there’s no need to hide our flaws. When we make mistakes or fall short, it’s crucial to own up to them, apologize, and demonstrate resilience by moving forward. By doing so, we teach our children valuable lessons about grace, accountability, and growth.

This mindset also grants us grace for our children. As they mature and navigate their own journeys, we must acknowledge their imperfections and be gracious while holding them accountable to the future God has called them into.

3. The Power of Prayer

The third principle revolves around the power of prayer. While we may not have prayed for our children as fervently as our own parents did for us, we recognize the immense value of interceding on behalf of our kids. Our parents prayed for us even before we were born, covering our spouses, careers, ministries, and every aspect of our lives. Similarly, we have the privilege of praying for our children long after they leave our homes.

Consider this beautiful example: We have friends in their seventies who continue to pray for their grown children. Despite their age, they persistently intercede for their offspring, reminding us that parenting extends far beyond physical and geographical boundaries.

4. Growing Freedom with Maturity

The final principle our friends emphasized is granting increasing freedom as our children mature and assume greater responsibility. As parents, we must strike a delicate balance—protecting and guiding our children while allowing them the freedom to grow.

During the early years, the focus is on obedience and simple decision-making. As our children develop, discussions, discourse, and engagement become key components of their decision-making process. We learn to gauge their maturity, responsibility, and relationship with Jesus, gradually granting them more freedom.

For example, our twenty-year-old son has earned our trust and demonstrates responsible behavior. Consequently, he enjoys access to our belongings and tools without needing constant permission. However, with our four-year-old, we exercise greater caution, providing age-appropriate freedom while keeping their safety and development in mind.

As our children exhibit character growth and take ownership of their faith, we can confidently nudge them toward increased freedom. This process helps them mature and flourish as independent individuals while aligning with our ultimate goal of preparing them for God’s plans.

In conclusion, parenting is a continual journey of letting go as our children grow. We can navigate this path with grace and wisdom by adhering to these four guiding principles—keeping the main thing in focus, embracing honesty and humility, prioritizing prayer, and nurturing freedom with maturity.

Remember, no parent is perfect, but with God’s grace and the support of fellow parents, we can navigate the complexities of parenting while raising children who honour God and impact the world around them. Let’s lean on His guidance and celebrate the privilege of being parents who play a crucial role in advancing His kingdom.

Stay tuned for more valuable insights on parenting as we continue to share our experiences and learn from one another. Together, let’s embrace the journey of raising godly children and empowering them to fulfill their God-given potential.