I am going to come right out and say it. Raising and releasing spiritual leaders is what God calls parents to do. While there are millions of blogs, books, and podcasts on the raising portion, very little is shared on releasing. Maybe because it is the most gut-wrenching part of our jobs.
From Dependent to Independent
If you follow me on social media, you know that Bubs graduated from high school on Friday evening. Yay! We celebrated his accomplishments with friends and family on Saturday. Then, Sunday morning he flew the nest to begin a summer of service as a counselor at a Bible camp. Watching him leave was hard.
Raising Bubs was no picnic. The first month of his life was excruciating. Then we endured daily sensory meltdowns, multiple diagnoses and delays, and 11 years of therapy. Throughout his life I have washed his clothes, made his bed, and fixed things that broke. I took him to appointments, made meals, and taxied him around. I offered safety and security when he felt fearful and confused. Often I felt like his personal maid.
But along the way, I realized that no matter his multiple diagnoses or delays, it was my job to prepare him to be a confident, self-sufficient man. I had to help him move from dependence on me to independence for himself.
Passing the Baton
It has always been my goal as a mom to work myself out of a job. I wanted my kids to be able to do for themselves what I initially had to do for them. I wanted Bubs (and my other 3 children) to be able to:
- Make appointments and seek information over the phone and in person.
- Invite me to pray, but go to God in need, stress, and direction.
- Understand money management, taxes, tithing, and investing.
- Handle conflict with managers, teachers, leaders, and peers.
- See want needs to be done and jump in to serve.
- Have servant leadership and encourage those around them.
- Communicate well to others their plans and opinions.
- Move from family faith to personal faith.
- Be able to brainstorm, weigh decisions, and seek wisdom when unsure which path to take.
- Manage a home by making meals, grocery shopping, and cleaning.
- See their sin for what it is while seeing Jesus as their only hope and Savior.
And I could go on. As I share in my Biblical Parenting Video series, I actively passed the baton for Bubs to be able to run the race of life without me.
Now, that isn’t to say that he no longer needs me. In some ways, I believe that spending a summer at camp and beginning college this fall is going to open his eyes to just how much he needs his father and me. But it will be different. And as much as it hurts my heart to say it, I know it will be good because we have done what God asked us to do.
How to Work Yourself Out of Job
Here are a few things that I have learned along the way.
- God loves my children more than I do.
I have had to remind myself of this often.
- I can’t truly control what happens to or around my children.
The idea that I can put them in a bubble to protect them is simply wrong. But I know that God knows what they need more than I do. See #1.
- A child ready to spread his wings is the greatest gift.
While my heart wants to pull him back and keep him needing me, God didn’t design parenting to be this way. Eventually, he will need to “leave and cleave” to his wife (Genesis 2:24).
- I can’t find my identity in my children.
It is so easy to see myself only as my children’s mom. But if this becomes my sole identity, I will be lost after they leave.
- When my child graduates from high school, if I haven’t worked myself out of job, I have not prepared my child to be as successful as possible.
While there are exceptions with children who have extreme disabilities, this statement is true of my four children. I can’t prepare them for every situation that they will face, but I can give them common sense, a work ethic, and communication skills to get them started.
“A mother’s job is to teach her children not to need her anymore. The hardest part of that job is accepting success.” ~ Unknown
- 3 Ways to Build a Work Ethic in Your Kids
- Should Children Have Chores
- Age-Appropriate Cooking & Chore Ideas Poster for Kids
- If you missed the story of God’s faithfulness in Bubs’ life, I encourage you to read it.
Caitlyn E Hall says
It is truly eye opening, as we get older and have children of our own, how much we do depend and lean on our parents. We sometimes do not comprehend how much of a piece of our life puzzle they can take up until they are called to Heaven and a new, unfamiliar void forms. As a parent, I appreciate this article and can relate to the struggle of wanting and encouraging and teaching independence versus being a safe haven and beacon of rest. May the Lord bless us parents with strength and guidance, whilst allowing our children to have open ears and guarded minds.
I think it is in teaching them independence that they see their need for us as a source of wisdom and stability. Maybe we could say that the need shifts. –heidi