Dale’s Rules for Life: Let Your Kids Grow Up

I have these rules for life. This rule is a “two-fer” rule. Meaning it’s really two rules packed into one. Which is kind of appropriate somehow since it lands on the list as 22. On the surface, this rule may only seem to apply to parents of young children. But that is not the case. It applies to parents of adult children and even in the interactions between each other regardless of marital and family status. The rules go something like this. Let your kids grow up and parenting is all about the release.

Part of this rule comes from watching others deal with the role-reversing transition of becoming your parent’s parent.  There is often struggle and turbulence in those days; conflict as the child makes decisions the parent is no longer capable of making (but thinks they can).  Some parents have a hard time accepting the grown-up wisdom and care of their children.

“Let your kids grow up” runs the gamut from birth to adulthood. But it is impossible to achieve without the second rule – parenting is all about the release. From their first days of total reliance until they leave home there are hundreds of moments of release.  Times when parents let go. Times such as those first wobbly steps, or going off to school for the first time, or being allowed to ride their bikes out of sight, or staying over at a friend’s house, and ultimately that moment when we fully release them into their own life.

Releasing our children (in an age-appropriate way) means accepting the risk of what could happen. Our role as parents is to prepare them for that risk. If we only release when there is practically no risk then our kids never learn the lessons of failure, risk, and the reward of conquering. But if we release to soon the pain of failure may create tough to overcome fear. There is no “one size fits all” pattern here. Each parent must weigh many factors and battle many worries as they release their children into new adventures.

This rule, however, goes beyond parenting. In truth, we need to let each other grow up. So often we establish someone’s level of ability, responsibility, and maturity in our minds. As a consequence, we refuse or fail to expect them to change, to grow up if you will. But even as adults we are still changing and still learning new skills, behaviors, and ways to deal with life.

And perhaps you see an additional application. We need to let ourselves grow-up as well. Not in a way that becomes sour on everything fun, but grown-up in the sense of taking on responsibilities and challenges in a grown-up way.

This idea of growing up is even embedded in faith in Christ. Throughout the Gospels and the Letters are expressions of growing up. For example, “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,” (Ephesians 4:14–15, NASB95) Even God expects His children to grow up.

Yet, while there are many applications, the basic intent of the rule is about children and parents. Let your kids grow up. After all, parenting is all about releasing them into their own lives.

Dale Heinold
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