Friday, June 2, 2017

Raising them to Leave

 When they are small it’s hard to imagine our children growing up and leaving us one day in the future.  They are tiny and need us virtually every waking moment, and sometimes they wake us up too.  

I’ll never forget, or recover from, the middle of the night heart attacks when one of my children, a very light walker could make it all the way in our room and be leaning over my face to whisper my name.  There is nothing quite like the heart failure of being woken up like that.  Or the time another of my children decided to sleep walk right out of a hotel room in the middle of the night.  #truestory  Crazy memories of trying to operate in a sleep deprived fog and just put one foot in front of the other only get funny after some time has passed.  Add teething, stomach bugs, and wet beds to the mix and really once you have a child you shouldn’t plan on a full night’s sleep until they are at least 10, maybe 20.

Of course I am exaggerating, sort of, and that’s why it’s hard to imagine that one day these challenging days will end.  One day, inevitably, they grow up and they launch out into the world to find and become the adults they were created to be.  While we are busy in those daily tasks of just keeping them alive, or keeping a sharpie marker out of their hands, it’s easy to forget we are raising future adults.  We want them to have certain character qualities as adults, but how many times do we think about the need to teach them responsibility when we are desperate to get the laundry from the washer to the dryer after one cycle instead of restarting it for the third time.

I’ve been in your shoes, and some days still find myself there – days that seem entirely too long and too busy.  If I’m not careful, a week goes by or a month and I wonder what have I done to help build character in my children.  

Sometimes it takes a failure or an incident to get my attention, and that feels pretty crummy honestly.  Sometimes it’s a gentle reminder that the Lord allows across my mind, and I know I need to address something.  When you have more than one child also it can be daunting to try to make sure to manage but not micro-manage.  I’m an all or nothing kind of girl which is unhealthy at best and disastrous at worst.  So many days, I desperately seek the Lord’s face and beg for wisdom and timing and His best.  I remind myself at the same time that my Father is their Father also and He loves them even more than I do.

We need to be sure to encourage them to develop their spiritual lives with growth in the fruits of the Spirit by asking for His help to accomplish that. 

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

In addition to their spiritual lives, their character needs to mature. 
Traits like:
  • Hard work
  • Honesty
  • Determination
  • Persistence
  • Loyalty
  • Accountable
  • Disciplined
  • Compassionate
  • Reliable
  • Generous

These are words that would demonstrate that someone is a mature and responsible adult.

While that seems a bit overwhelming even to me, I would suggest that we look at doing just a little bit each week towards a focus on each trait. Here are some practical steps that I think we can apply with this as our goal

  • Find! Find a Bible verse that encourages this particular character quality.  For instance, my favorite verse on hard work is in Proverbs! 
Proverbs 14:4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox. 
Having spent time in a barn with their 4H animals during their childhood this one helps my kids remember that the won’t have an animal to show or to sell at the end of season if they don’t care for its needs.  One of its needs is to keep it’s stall clean.  And while it is a dirty job, it’s necessary.
  • Engage! Encourage small conversations whether in the car, around the dinner table or standing in line at the store. “What does it mean to be responsible?”  “How do you think a person who is responsible acts?”  While they are super little they might not understand or grasp what you are doing, but I like to think that I am planting a seed that will grow in the future.

  • Praise! Look for opportunities to praise that behavior when you see it happen.  Did Sally feed the dog this morning without you asking her too?  “Sally, it was so great to see you be so responsible to take care of the puppy!”  Did David share candy with his sister without you having to force him to?  “David how generous you are to share with your sister!”

  • Correct! Discipline bad behavior as necessary.  I think this one goes without saying because it seems that motherhood is full of disciplinary actions.  Many days of correcting disobedience, tantrums and just downright dangerous activities can deplete us though and sometimes we may have a tendency to just decide to let some things slide.  This is a dangerous place to be because truly the little foxes spoil the vine. (SS 2:15)  These little things can escalate into much worse behavior as adolescents and teens.  Disobedience and dishonesty can become major issues in the future if not dealt with frequently as little ones.

  • Pray! While this is last on the list today, it’s definitely not last on my list.  I wanted to close with a positive note though, and I believe this is the most powerful thing you can do as you seek to help your children become responsible adults. Don’t ever neglect praying for your babies.  I would encourage you to pray often not only for the day before you face whatever is ahead with them, but for you and how you’ll react. Pray for their futures and their future spouses and that you’ll be equipped to handle whatever they may face along the way. Pray for the interactions of their friends, family and other adults who will have influence over them.

I do pray you’ll be encouraged to take action to instill Biblical truths in your babes and to be intentional about encouraging future good character in them as they march to adulthood.


  1. Such good truths here. We must be intentional in our parenting. Thanks for sharing.

  2. With my 19 year old leaving very soon and my 17 year old close behind, I am struggling really bad. Thank you for this post.

  3. I understand 19 year old is leaving soon also!


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