September 18, 2012
Another college season has started but this one is different from those of past years. You see, Dominique didn’t move back home this summer. She lived at college in her own house off-campus, making her meals, paying her bills, working a real job in her field of study … all of this by herself. She did come home for our mission trip to Uganda, but this was our first summer without her. The weeks were filled with excitement of the opportunities in her life, pride for how well she handled everything and who she is growing into. It was also a time of sadness realizing that she isn’t our little girl whom we get to see everyday, and protect and care for. Wow! It was a big transition for us as parents. Our relationship with Dominique really grew this summer.
Have you crossed this relational Stepping Stone with your child yet? If so, it’s never too late to apply these principles. And if your kids are younger, it’s never to early to start. Like other milestones, the moment you say goodbye to the child you drop off at college for the first time will be burned into your mind forever. It is in mine.
We have taken this child from diapers to diploma … been the primary influence in her life … celebrated many occasions … shared times of sadness and hurt … been involved in most details of her life including disappointments and punishments as well as wonderment and fun. Many joys, fears, and surprises fill our memory banks. Wow, during these two decades we have seen our child grow so much. Boy, do we miss her!
We all want to protect our children from danger and hurt … save them from the wrong turns we took in the past. We are concerned that we can no longer protect or advocate for them anymore. The truth is that now it’s your turn to change. Hopefully, your love for your child will remain pretty constant when he or she leaves home. 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. Instead of lecturing, listen and begin to create a relationship that fosters communication. Listening first shows you respect your child, and are giving his ideas and views honor and dignity. Listening shows you are interested in and care for your child … that you understand the significance of this particular issue. Most importantly, listening builds a stronger bridge from your island to hers, so you can send important information when she really needs it and is receptive.
Today, as you continue to make this transition, try to forget the interrogation litany of “who, what, when” you have relied on since your child became a teenager. Shift your focus now to a more faith-based approach. Try praying more. Try asking your child, “How would you like me to pray for you today?” Remember, Jesus is an advocate and protector with more power and skill, and with better access to God than we ever could have ourselves. It could be the difference between growing a powerful and lasting relationship with your child, and growing apart and being marginalized. Whether you adapt to your children’s growth or treat them as subordinates is your decision, so choose well.
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 children, and many times they have neglected themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. Father, help these parents know that the job of being a spiritual leader within the family never ends. Give them the strength and wisdom to minister to their college or adult 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 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. Hebrews 4:16