Dear fellow parent,
Today I want to share a letter with you for those days when the weight of your heart feels heavy for your children. For the days when you can’t help but feel like their life is turning out in heartbreaking ways. For the days when the heaviness of seeing them repeat unhealthy patterns continues. For the days when you feel the heavy choice of how to get involved without enabling, criticizing, or taking control.
In the Bible, Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” This is a true and wise principle from Scripture, but it’s important to remember that our children still have free will. They have their own choices to make as they grow up, look at life, and make their life journey their own. Sometimes that includes taking a path that is painful to see unfold.
Recently, we moved one of our adult sons into a homeless shelter due to a variety of complex circumstances. I won’t give too many details to honor his privacy, but the truth is that the day we moved him really hurt my heart. It’s so hard to see your child, someone you love dearly, struggling to move forward. It breaks my heart to know that he’s living somewhere I never imagined him living when he was growing up.
Mark and I will continue to support him as we always have, but we have carefully learned to draw boundaries so we don’t become enablers. Sometimes it’s really hard to stick to those boundaries. If you feel that sometimes, I want you to know that you’re not alone.
You are not alone.
In those moments when you see the negative impact their choices have on their life, all you want to do is scoop them up in your arms and protect them, rock them back and forth, and say, “It will all be alright. I’m here.”
If your child is an adult, the time for kissing their boo-boos away has passed and many times we have to take a step back and support from a distance. With adult children, it’s important that we remember that we cannot control them. We can’t “fix” their circumstances. We will always encourage, support, and provide wisdom. However, they have to decide for themselves the path they ultimately want to take.
As we covered in this recent podcast episode, sometimes if we are too involved, our support as a parent is what can keep our child from understanding the full consequences of their actions.
None of us wish for this. This journey can be full of heartache, hardship, and constant worry over your child. Not only that, but it can take a true toll on your well-being also. You may be feeling worn out, empty, and like you just can’t do this anymore. I want to encourage you to take space for yourself, do something that energizes you and fills your cup, and spend time with the Lord and the truth of His Word.
One action we can always take.
The most important work we can do is taking our child to the Lord in prayer. You may have had to set boundaries with your child, but you can still have an active role in their life through the power of prayer. God loves our children even more than we do and His heart breaks just as much (in fact, infinitely more) than ours does.
My friend, I want you to know today that you are seen.
You are loved by an incredible God.
Your love for your child is beautiful and admirable.
You are capable of supporting without enabling, and it is not wrong for you to do so.
We can always take our worry, our heartache, and our child to the feet of our heavenly Father. While we don’t yet know how our child’s life will ultimately turn out, we can rest knowing that God is in control and we can put our child’s future into His hands. Ultimately we don’t get in the way of our child’s need for God.
Here’s a prayer for all of us today:
Lord, give us the strength as parents to release our children into your hands. We see the pain in their story and the challenges being created in their life. It worries our hearts and makes us want to step in and protect them from the consequences. There comes a time when it is no longer healthy for us to serve as a shield from these consequences. Give us the strength to step back where we need to and entrust them in Your hands.
Comfort our hearts as we fear the effect these decisions will have on our child’s life. Protect them in ways that only You can and help them to recognize the journey they are on and internalize the value of taking steps in a different direction.
Lord, we raised them to know truth North. We pray they will return to true North. We pray they will return to You.
Fill our hearts with your Holy Spirit and your peace that goes beyond understanding, so that when the time comes, we are ready and able to celebrate and support their progress. Amen.
Looking for more support in launching adult children? Check out Empty Nest, Full Life!
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