Clear here for printable PDF
It’s graduation time! The excitement of graduation, the parties, the gifts…the worries, the decisions, the fear–sound familiar? It’s the emotional roller coaster of seeing your teen graduate from high school and prepare to move on to college. If you’re a parent in the middle of this season—there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!
As a godly parent, your role of raising godly children is always a priority. Knowing that your child is now headed off to a new world can often bring times of concern. From the ages of 16-19, one of the greatest necessities of maturing is independence. The inclination of most loving parents is to hold on to children too tightly, despite their attempts to wiggle free. Parents attempt to prevent their child from ever failing and protect them from the pain failure brings.
In doing so, these young adults are forced into two destructive behaviors: Either they passively accept the parent’s overprotection and remain dependent “children” into adult life or they rise up in great wrath to reject their bondage and interference.
Where’s the balance? As a parent, it is important to do nothing for your adolescent that he or she can profit from doing themselves. Life inevitably brings hurt. The hurt affects the parents who feel they are seemingly watching from the sidelines. Here’s some advice offered by Dr. James Dobson from his book The New Strong-Willed Child:
- Hold on with an open hand. This implies that we still care strong about the outcome during early adulthood, but we must not clutch our children too tightly. We should pray for them, love them and even offer advice to them when it is sought. But the responsibility to make personal decisions must be borne by the next generation, and they must also accept the consequences of those choices.
- Hold them close and let them go. Parents should be deeply involved in the lives of their young children, providing love, protection and authority. But when those children reach their late teens and early 20’s, the cage door must be opened to the world outside. Our sons and daughters are more likely to make proper choices when they do not have to rebel against our meddling interference to gain their independence.
- If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, then it’s yours. If it doesn’t return, then it never was yours in the first place. Love demands freedom. If our child runs, he runs. If she marries the wrong person, she marries the wrong person. If he takes drugs, he takes drugs. If our children go to the wrong school, reject their faith, refuse to work or squander their resources on liquor and prostitutes, then they must be permitted to make these destructive choices. But it not our task to pay the bills, ameliorate the consequences or support their folly. Adolescence is not an easy time of life for either generation. In fact, it can be downright terrifying. The key to surviving this emotional experience is to lay the proper foundation and then face this time with courage. Even the rebellion of the teen years can be a healthy factor. This conflict contributes to the process by which an individual changes from a dependent child to a mature adult, taking his place as a coequal.
Clear here for printable PDF