There is a time when your little one needs you for everything. They cry and you attend to their need. They stumble and you scoop them up and fix their pain. Their joy, sorrow, fear, worry, and anger is all yours because they are an overextension of you!
And then all of a sudden…they’re not.
They stop telling you how they’re feeling or what they’re thinking and calls from teachers, parents, or neighbors inform you instead. You start to wonder if their days at school really are that “good” and whether their friends are kind, generous, and supportive.
You might wonder all of these things and therefore decide to show up for an inside view. You’ll volunteer to help in a class, tutor some kids, or chaperone a trip. Maybe these experiences will grant you answers. Maybe they won’t. But either way, the underlying truth still remains: our children will eventually sever the cord and experience life on their own.
This is the physics of life.
Intellectually, I know this independence is normal (and obviously I don’t want my kids living in my basement when they’re 40!), but it still hurts a little—okay, a LOT—when they start to pull away. Yet what choice do we have? We can either give them the space they need to learn and grow or we can interfere with the physics of life and stall the process.
Newton’s Third Law says that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. This is just a fancy way for saying that we all have choices and those choices cause different reactions. Thus, we can either choose to control our children (out of fear and love), or we can surrender to the forces that be (again, out of fear and love). Both choices are caused by the same motivation, but both result in different reactions, don’t they?
For example, when I attended my first-grader’s field trip, she gave me the cold shoulder, and I saw how she’s still kind of (really) socially awkward and doesn’t have a place among her peers yet, I had two choices:
- I could try and control the situation by making her sit by me (and then later disguising myself and spying on her behind the trees).
- I could surrender control and pray that the foundation I’ve created with her is enough to keep our relationship strong.
Obviously the second option is better (unless you’re really into spying…in which case, there’s a whole other matter to discuss), but if we are to choose option two, what does full surrender look like?
To me, it looks a lot like being on my hands and knees, surrendering my child to God and saying, This is your daughter, Lord. How would YOU have me parent her?
I do this because it’s impossible for me to think that I can control every situation or be included on every life experience. And because I so desperately want my children’s lives to be rich and full—when I’m not present—I have to let them go but “stay close” in prayer.
Here they are, Lord. They are yours.
I therefore encourage us all to surrender our children to God today. They’re not really ours, anyway. “Every good and perfect gift comes from above,” right? (James 1:17) And because God gave us our children, I really do believe that he can do so much more with them than we could do on our very best of days. I believe this because I believe in God’s perfect love.
“We know how much God loves us and we have put our trust in his love.” 1 John 4:16
So put your trust (and your children) in the loving embrace of your Father. And remember, prayer works! It’s the best weapon we have as parents. Personally, I am praying that God will tell me how to parent my oldest child, how to connect with her, and how to love her best. I’m also praying for her emotional, physical, and spiritual safety, as well as for her intimacy with God and with me! I am praying all of these things because my fear is great, but my love for her (and the Lord) are greater. And #lovewins, right? (Not physics—sorry, Newton, I know you’re kind of a thing.) Yes. LOVE wins.
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).