The other day I came across a sign that said;Train up a child in the way he should go, and “make sure you are going that way, too.”  Of course the earlier part of this statement comes from Proverbs 6:22 and the last part of this statement hits the nail on the head with us parents.  As parents, we are commissioned to care, love and nurture our children.

Parenting these days is not an easy job. As a matter of fact, Jim and I have noticed how the world has changed drastically since our son, Drew graduated high school and, for the most part, college.  There are so many influences out there both good and bad. Of course, we want our children to be exposed to the good influences and shielded from the bad ones.

How do we raise our children in such a way? First, we must pray with our children and for our children. As Drew was approaching his middle school years, a dear  friend in my Sunday School class at the time encouraged me along with others to pray Psalm 91 daily for our children. This is a Psalm for protection.

Second, as parents we must be willing to do what we expect our children to do. For example, Jim was listening to Dr. James Dobson. As he listened he heard Dr. Dobson give this advice. “If we expect our children to clean their rooms, then we need to make sure our rooms are just as clean.”  In other words, our expectations, words and actions better match what we are telling and expecting from our children. To me, children are probably the first to pick up on hypocrisy and they are watching and taking notes more than we can ever realize.

Third, we need to encourage our children to read the scriptures and teach them how to experience and hear God’s voice within the scriptures and in their daily walk. When our son, Drew turned 13, Jim’s gift to Drew was to open the bible to the book of Proverbs and told Drew that this is the best advice he could give him as a dad. Apparently, Drew did as he was advised from his dad because now when I am tempted to color or highlight my hair Drew quotes Proverbs 20:29 “The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.”  

Fourth, we must realize that our children are given to us for a short period of time. Yes, as parents,we wish we could slow down time and keep them for a little longer. We must realize, though, that God placed them into our hands for a short period of time and then the time comes for us to place them back into the hands of God.

This last lesson was not an easy one for me being a mom of an only child. I will never forget Drew coming home and telling me he wanted to move to Chicago after he graduated college. Of course, the selfish part of me wanted him to move back to the small town he grew up in and live just a few minutes down the street. But deep within my soul, I knew that my role was about to change significantly as a parent and now it was time for Drew to follow God’s voice. Drew knew that God had a plan for him in Chicago and he had to go.  He lived in Chicago for almost two years and then God opened other doors of opportunities for him in Atlanta where he and his wife currently reside.

As hard as it was to let go and let Drew leave, I knew that I would not be leading by example if I hung on to the apron strings and tried to persuade Drew to stay close to home. After all, my husband and I have always lived away from family and I grew up living away from family. I knew the drill and all that would be involved in Drew’s living away from home.  As Drew packed to leave the nest, I prayed that I had shown him how to survive when family was not around. Along with learning how to bloom where he was planted, he needed to know that the people you surround yourself with away from home soon become your family.

At this moment as I write this post, there is someone’s child announcing to their family that they will be venturing out to new places and opportunities. I know that selfishness wants to kick in and convince that child how they need to stay close to home. But it is so important that the child be supported and respected in their decision. If it is in their decision to venture out, they need to be influenced by the leadership that raised them, following their God who created them in His image.

Yes, there are days when I wish we lived in more simple times. It would sure be simple to have family just a minute down the road and I didn’t have to plan months and/ or a year in advance to see them again.  But, our world is rapidly changing and opportunities for our children seem to be taking them to places that we would have never have dreamed about going to when we were their age.

Looking back in  our Christian heritage, I recall a group of twelve men who were asked to drop everything to follow their Master. Yes, they had families that they left to follow the call of God. These twelve men saw first hand of what it meant to lead and to follow. I am sure that they missed their families at times and wished they could run down the street to check in with them.  Though they missed their families,  they experienced miracles, blessings and God up close and personal. What an opportunity they had been given! As parents, I would like to think that we would want the same for our children. By letting go and placing them into God’s hands, we are allowing God to give them opportunities, life lessons, and a chance to experience their Master up close and personal.

My last piece of advice from one parent to another is to continue to pray for them. I encourage you to pray Psalm 91 over them daily. Again, my son, Drew is twenty-five and married but there is not a day that I don’t pray Psalm 91 not only for him but for his sweet wife, Megan, too.  It is in praying this daily over them  that gives me strength to keep placing them and trusting them in the Master’s hand as they follow Him.

“Are you leading your children to follow their Master?” and Are you going the same direction you are telling your children to go?  Take this thought with you; “our actions and reactions will make or break our relationship with our children in the years to come.”  How about it? Lead to follow?


** I highly recommend the book,  Leaving the Light On by John Trent Ph. D and Gary Smalley.