Would You Like Some Help?

family godly parenting kingdom family kingdom parenting parenting May 29, 2024

We attended two graduations over the weekend. The first was for our youngest child, who was graduating high school. We then drove four hours to attend the graduation of our 21 year old who was graduating from university. It was a weekend full of celebration and enjoying being together as a family. But it was also a reminder that there was a major change of season for two of our kids and also for us. We no longer have kids at high school and for the first time a child will leave home to take up a job position in a different city. That means she won’t be coming home for extended vacation times. She will be adulting ‘for real.’

As I watched others go through some of the same realizations, and watched not just the graduation ceremonies but the ‘move-out’ days, I was reminded how important it is to prepare your kids for those transitions, but also to prepare ourselves too. With the new seasons of our kids come a new way of relating to them that is appropriate to their new level of independence. We no longer tell them how to do everything. We don’t even coach them through their decisions unless we are invited to do so. It is a season of learning to talk and act a new way.

Just as we learn to give our toddler more and more choices, now we recognize that our young adults are equipped to deal with life. It’s not that they no longer need us, it’s that, if we have done our parenting well, they know how to make decisions. It’s time to recognize that they may choose differently than we might and that’s okay. I watched as one parent reorganized the way her adult daughter had packed her belongings as her daughter stood by frustrated, “Um Mom, I actually had a system I was using.” Inadvertently and with the best of intentions the Mom had given the daughter a message that she wasn’t as capable as she is. And she took currency out of the relationship bank without ever knowing it.

Nothing like seeing it played out in front of you to remind you to watch how you are doing it. As I helped my girls to pack down their rooms I found myself asking questions often. “Would you like some help?” “How would you like me to do that?” Questions acknowledge that this is their responsibility to do not mine and that I come alongside to help, not take over. Likewise as my house is now full of the boxes of stuff that they brought home I get to sit back and watch and let them figure it out. I am available for help and insight if anyone wants to ask.

Another question that I found myself asking is, “Can I offer a suggestion?” Only ask this question if you are prepared to hear ‘No,’ and stick by that. Asking permission says to your kid, “I know you’ve got this but I have insight you may want to know. If you don’t want that, that’s okay too.”

All this sounds great, but can be challenging, particularly if we haven’t prepared our kids well for more responsibility. Just remember love looks different in different phases. As a baby it looks like clean diapers and plenty of milk. When you’re dealing with young adults it looks like lots of support and room to make your own mistakes.