Well one down and three to go. Yep, my oldest graduated from high school and has ventured out on his own. To say that this was an interesting experience would be an understatement. Not because of Dan leaving home, but all of the crazy comments my wife and I have heard about having a graduate. You know the comments. “He’ll be back”, “Get your wallet ready’, “You need to constantly check up on them so they don’t screw up”, “You have to be so sad that he is leaving” and way more. These comments are not anywhere close to accurate. I will miss having him around, but missing him doesn't come close to how proud I am of the man he has grown into and the future he has.
Disclaimer: this is not a blog about what we did right as parents, it’s a blog about confidence in God’s direction. Way too often I hear parents say they hope that their kids grow up to do the right thing. Hope is important in life but it can’t be the goal to parenting. The reason I have confidence in my kids’ future is because of the deliberate purpose that we are raising them with. I am not talking about guarantees here; like I said, I am talking about following God’s direction.
The Bible tells us to raise our kids up in the way they are to be. This means in the way that He made them. So if we have a gifted athlete, it is our responsibility to raise an athlete that loves and serves God. If we have a gifted artist, it is our responsibility to raise an artist that loves and serves God. To do this we are responsible to raise our kids to know all the attributes of who God is. This means showing and teaching grace and judgment, love and anger, hope and brokenness, joy and sadness, friend and ruler, and a whole lot more. Just like God knows everything about us, it is for us to understand who our kids are, what makes them tick, why they make the decisions they do, what are their dreams, their gifts and limitations. Then set your expectations on what they are capable of and NOT what we as parents want. Finally, as parents we need to realize our kids are entrusted to us by God and He is still in control.
When it come to Dan heading out on his own, I have confidence in what God has done in his life over the last 18 years. This confidence comes from knowing that we don't have unrealistic expectations for him, but have brought him up in the way God made him. As parents, we always had a purpose, and not hope, in the decisions we made while raising him. We took the time to know him and understand who he was and made the sometimes tough and sometimes absolutely hilarious decisions that would help him be the man that God made him to be. One of the things that every parent struggles with at some point, and will overwhelm you if you don't keep it in check, is taking it personally what your kids do. Part of growing up is testing limits. Sometimes the limits they test are gravity and sometimes they are the limits we as parents set. As parents, we need to understand and remember to be objective and just, when these limits are tested and not take it personally. This is one of the core causes of parent-child frustration. We need to make sure our limits are Biblical and appropriate to each kids’ level of responsibility. Holding a kid back is just as destructive as not having limits at all.
Kirsten and I set out to raise our kids to be adults that will serve God and serve those who God puts in their life. Every decision we have made and are making comes back to this purpose and what each individual kid needs to get to where God wants them. It seems wrong to most people, but to do this we have less rules and not more. The four rules we have for our kids are: If the Bible says its wrong, it’s wrong. Don’t lie. Don’t be defiant. And put other before yourself. Yep that’s it. These are the only things that were punishable offenses. Everything else is a lesson of life that we lived and worked through together. Just like God does with each of us. This includes letting each kid live with the decisions they make. Yes, again, sometimes it’s hard to watch and sometime it is hilarious to watch. Here is the hard fact about raising kids. You can’t give them what they need to grow up. You can supply tools, vision and motivation, but they need to experience all of life, both the ups and downs to grow up. They can’t learn responsibility without the ability to fail. They can’t learn to have faith without the ability to go through trials. As parents we are called to protect our kids but not to shelter them. As Dan ventures out on his own I know he will have successes and he will have trials, and he can’t have one without the other.
Like I said, I will miss him, but not nearly as much as I will have fun watching what God’s does with him. Kirsten and I have confidence because we taught him to follow God’s direction and we did so with purpose as our goal not hoping that he does the right thing.
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