We just dropped Dominique off at Pitt again. A goodbye filled with both excitement and sadness, and that was a little easier than the first time we did this. This year, she’s moving off campus to a rundown house (that Dominique, Martine, and Auntie Suzanne fixed up really nicely) with 2 other neat Christian girls. She is excited to be more on her own and we are happy with how she is maturing into a responsible adult. Wow, did our relationship with Dominique really grow this summer.
Have you crossed this Stepping Stone of evolving relationship with your child yet? If you have, it’s never too late to apply these principles, and if your kids are younger, never to early to start. The moment, that very moment you said goodbye to the child you were dropping off at college for the first time, will get burned into your mind forever, like so many other milestone moments. It is in mine.
We have taken this child from diapers to diploma … been the primary influence in her life … so many celebrations … some times of sadness and hurt … being involved in most details of her life … disappointments and punishments … thankfully, so much wonderment and fun … with many joys, fears, and surprises filling our memory banks. We want to protect our children from so many dangers and hurts … save them from the wrong turns we took back in our development. We are concerned they no longer have a protector or advocate like us around anymore. Wow, during those two decades, we have seen our child grow so much.
But now it’s your turn to change. The love for your child, when he or she leaves home, hopefully stays pretty constant … but the way you will express it and interact with your child will be significantly different. As you shift roles, be quick to listen and slow to speak. Listen instead of lecture. Begin to create a relationship that fosters communication. Listening first shows you respect them, are giving their ideas and views honor and dignity, are interested in and care for them, and understand that this particular issue is important to them. Most importantly, listening builds a bridge from your island to theirs (even though the geographical distance between your islands is growing) so you can send the important information you want them to hear when they really need it and are receptive.
Today, as you continue to make this transition, try and forget about the litany of “who, what, when” interrogation techniques you have relied on since your child became a teenager. Shift your focus now to a more faith-based approach. Try praying more. Try an inquiry with your child like, “How would you like me to be praying for you today?” Remember, they have an advocate and protector more powerful and skilled, and with better access to God than we ever could dream of doing ourselves. Your decision, choose well. It could be the difference between growing a powerful and lasting relationship with your child (and grandchildren), and growing apart and being marginal people in their busy lives.
Dear God, I pray today for all parents who have children in college. I pray that while experiencing this loss, they take this opportunity to grow. They have focused so long on the growth and development of their child, that many times they have neglected themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. Help these parents know, Father, that their jobs as spiritual leaders within their families never ends. Give them the strength and wisdom to minister to their college children. Help them, Father, to move to a mindset of praying … not prying. Give them all your peace and joy as they experience the sadness of separation and loss so they may receive Your mercy and find grace to help them in their time of need. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ our savior; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children live in the truth
3 John 1:4
Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.