As I said in yesterday’s post about my favorite three pieces of parenting advice I ever received, most of this was on my mind as we drove our son down to Tennessee, 11 hours away, to work in a Christian camp this summer. Since we knew about this opportunity last fall, I’ve had some interesting responses to letting my 17 year old son go so far away. We had similar responses when my 18 year old daughter left the area for a few months to be a temporary mother’s helper to a military wife who’s husband was going to be gone during the latter part of her pregnancy.
Of course there are many family and friends who see this as we do: a great opportunity to grow and learn.
Dear husband and I were laughing a bit about the fact so many people who thought we were too strict with our kids when they were younger, were the same ones who can’t believe we’d trust our 17 year old to go to Tennessee by himself.
He’s a trustworthy kid. Like any 17 year old, I’m not about to give him carte blanche to do as he pleases. But, he earned this bit of freedom and trustworthiness. Besides, there will be some pretty tight supervision while he’s there, just not of the mom and dad variety.
I’m all for sheltering our kids in an appropriate way, of course. As a mom, I feel it’s my job to protect them as much as possible from the stresses, dangers, and temptations of the world around us as they are growing.
But there’s a real temptation to ignore what Jesus calls us to do, to go into all the world and share the good news, to hole ourselves up into a monastic lifestyle, to raise great kids but keep them for ourselves. The exact out workings of the balance between sheltering and letting go are of course complex. Figuring out exactly where to draw the line between reaching out and pulling back, between protecting and encouraging risks, between staying in our comfort zone and taking a risk on a new thing.
It’s hard and sometimes inconvenient to shelter and protect our kids. It’s also hard to let go.
I pray all the time for the grace and wisdom to know which is required in every situation.