You can’t always prevent your child from getting hurt. “In this world you will have trouble” (Jn 16:33 NIV). Either they’ll get hurt and learn to deal with reality, or suffocate in your cocoon, never becoming mature—a hurt much sadder and much more painful and debilitating. What’s involved in giving your child wings? (1) Realize that without autonomy they’ll never become a healthy adult. This involves learning things like clear thinking, being responsible for their own decisions, learning from bad choices how to make better ones, being free to make mistakes and pay the price of learning, and experiencing what it means to grow up. (2) Don’t treat their need for autonomy as evidence you’re failing as a parent. Indeed, if they fail to distance, you should question your parenting style! Making them independent is biblical and effective parenting. (3) Don’t mistake their distancing as a rejection of you. It’s not abandonment of you, it’s advancement for them. It’s not proof of ingratitude or selfishness and rebellion; it’s their real-world opportunity to demonstrate your success as a parent. When they don’t want to attend Uncle Bert’s family reunion, don’t tighten your grip to “save the family from disintegrating.” The family is meant to disengage, like cells splitting off and multiplying. The Bible says we are to “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth“ (Ge 9:1 NIV). They can’t stay in the nest and fulfill their destiny. Release them, then get a life of your own! That’s your responsibility—not endless parenting. Let out the rope, trust God, and they’ll be back to see their “very cool” parents.
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