When our children are young, we’re so busy providing them with things like love, protection, discipline, training, and authority that it feels like these responsibilities will go on forever. But they don’t. When our children reach their late teens and early twenties, we must open the door for them to the world outside.
If you’re going through this right now and feeling anxious, try to realise that you’re in one of the most challenging and difficult parts of parenting. Your tendency to hold tightly to the reins of control in order to keep your children from making mistakes is natural. But your children are more likely to make good choices if they aren’t compelled to rebel in order to achieve their freedom. The simple truth is that responsibility and maturity flourish best in an atmosphere of freedom. ‘As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother.”’ The secret of success is in granting your child autonomy at the right time, in the right amount, and with the right attitude. Your goal should be to allow independence little by little through the years, as your children are able to manage new responsibility. The final release, then, should represent a small step in the direction of freedom instead of a tumble into anarchy.
In the final analysis, we all learn by trial and error. You did, and try as you may to avoid it, your children will, too. ‘So what should I do?’ you ask. Pray for them daily, release them into God’s care, and let them know that you will always love them and be there for them.