The second gift you must give your child is “wings.” They are born to fly, not stay in the nest. By becoming overly protective and stifling them in the name of responsible parenting, you’ll end up losing them. Jesus said children are designed to leave and go out and build a home of their own. Their drive for freedom is God-given, not a sign of ingratitude, disrespect or rebellion. A good carpenter works with the grain, not against it. So what should you do? Before your child demands outright independence, teach them how to handle it wisely. Give them opportunities to prove their readiness, and as they demonstrate trustworthiness, increase their autonomy—and vice versa. Let them know that in life you don’t inherit happiness, you earn it. Be flexible, but take charge. Let your child know they can’t demand privileges like driving, dating and spending money—they have to prove themselves worthy. Help them see how they can earn increased autonomy, or lose it, and how they can earn it back. Make them responsible for their own freedom by letting them know that it’s not a right or a gift, but a reward for showing maturity. A mother bird doesn’t push her baby out of the nest until she knows it’s ready to start flying. The gift of freedom to an unprepared child isn’t “wings,” it’s an invitation to catastrophe! Don’t sign their “bill of rights” to autonomy until they’ve proven they can handle their agreed-upon responsibility.
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