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My wife and I have three children. They are now 29, 27, and 25 but the memories of their teen and young adult years are not forgotten.

All of us, as Christian parents, try to raise our kids to make good decisions. We pray that they will make good decisions, and most importantly, that they will follow Jesus. The process of our kids making their own decisions starts earlier than we think. Even as pre-teens, our kids begin to discover their own identity. They have their likes and dislikes. They want to dress a certain way, do certain things, and explore different areas of life. God has made them to eventually become adults, and we need to remember that the seeds of who they will become begin to grow early in life.

Sometimes our kids need us to step in, and correct them from wrong or dangerous thinking. When our children are young, we are the main source of input for their lives. We teach them about God, His ways and truths. We do our best to live out the Christian life in front of our kids.

As our kids get older, they begin to “push back” a bit. They begin to feel constrained by mom and dad, and the occasions of disagreements seem to increase. This is when many parents clamp down, become stricter, and try to control the situation. We parents often sense that the trajectory that our kids seem to be choosing doesn’t look good. Our wisdom is sometimes right, but other times we over-react. I know. Been there, done that.

I believe that it takes a great deal of spiritual wisdom and discernment to know how to “let go” of our kids. Some say that all that should happen at age 18. I couldn’t disagree more. We as parents need to sense when to allow our kids to make their own decisions, as they get older, or when to hold them back. Eventually, there is no holding them back, as they become adults and go off on their own.

I think one of the best things that we can do as parents is to gradually let go of our kids. It has been said that when our kids are young, we walk in front of them, but as they get older, we walk beside them. I believe that that transition should be seamless. I believe that it is best to let go of our kids very gradually, and to gradually go from the position of overseeing parents to trusted counselor. We need to allow our kids to make some mistakes, so that they will learn from those situations. I don’t think that it is wise to protect our kids at all costs. That isn’t natural. I believe that it is far wiser to realize that our kids will eventually be out from under our oversight. They need to develop the skills, wisdom, and spiritual insight to make their own decisions. A wise parent allows that to begin happening early in life, so that when their child goes off on their own, they already have godly decision making skills in place.

WARNING: I have seen Christian parents that are so worried for their children, that they become legalistic and suffocating. Often times, the result has been that their kids seek to escape all things Christian, and all things concerning their family. They run from mom and dad, and they run from church. Those kids had never been allowed to think for themselves, and when they finally do leave home, they often crash and burn out from the results of bad decisions that were fueled by the resentment of feeling controlled for so many years.

Parents, if you are in that worrisome stage of life when your kids are in transition, the best thing to do is to pray for them, and seek God about when or when not to take charge. I also suggest that as your kids begin to explore the world, give them the freedom to think contrary thoughts to what you believe. Instead of telling them they are wrong, help them think through what they are exploring, and help them come to their own conclusion, instead of telling them what the conclusion should be.

I am not at all advocating a “hands off” approach to parenting. I am, however, suggesting that we do well to help our children become who God made them to be, instead of trying to control them into becoming what they think they should be.

I have included a short video with some additional thoughts.

continue reading the views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of Calvary Southampton

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