Many parents have a grip on their children. A strong grip, and sometimes, an unhealthy grip. Keep in mind that it is wise to train your children up in the way they should live, so when they get older, they won’t depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6 (The Message) says it this way:
“Point your kids in the right direction—
when they’re old they won’t be lost.”
Now, “in the right direction” means that the children are pointed in the right way to live their lives, not where they should live.
Proverbs 22:6 does not say:
“Point your kids in the right place to live, and when they’re old, they’ll never leave that location.”
Yet this is the way some parents view this verse and carry it out in their own lives. It’s healthy to make your home a safe haven for family members when they’re going through a hard time, but at the same time, we need our homes to also be launch pads for their future. Meaning, we cannot expect our children to remain within a 20-minute radius from us until the day we die.
If we have these unrealistic expectations over them, it will strangle the blessings over their lives that God has in store for them. There are times when children are oblivious to it, and subject themselves to it for the rest of their lives.
We must honor our parents, yes. However, when it comes to marriage, the only counsel God gave to Adam in the Garden of Eden was to ‘leave his father and mother’ and cling to his wife (Genesis 2:24). Jesus even quotes this in the New Testament to show how essential this concept is. Even though Adam’s father was God himself (not literally, but spiritually), and that he didn’t have an earthly father, Adam was to set a precedent for the rest of humanity after him. Since this is part of the law of firsts, it is something that follows throughout mankind.
A father must protect his children when they are growing up; after all, it’s his role. It’s a noble role, yet it can be challenging. There are natural concerns, pitfalls, mistakes, and excuses that happen. This is just part of life. Yet when parents refuse to relinquish their hold on their children when they become adults, they then have them under their thumbs for life. This is dangerous territory. When this happens, it can squeeze the calling and blessings of God that can come upon that adult child.
When my two daughters are teenagers and turn 18, I can’t wait to encourage them to see the world, travel, learn a new language, try new foods, make new friends, and find the right husbands. And whatever comes with that, I know that I need to let them follow God’s will for their lives, and not try to verbalize any constraint over them in order to keep them to myself. If I were to do this, it would bring either (1) resentment or (2) a form of submission to me that they shouldn’t have. After all, they will need to honor their husbands and cling to them, not to me.
It is hard for any father to see their daughters marry off to a man. As a father of two daughters myself, I know this. I know that that day will come. Sure, it will be naturally hard. However, I also know what the Word of God says. And the Word of God says that I must let them have the lives that they need to live in God, recognizing that they and their husbands may go off to college in another city, move to another state, and travel the world. If I were to make them feel bad about their life choices (especially if it involved moving away from me), then I would be in the wrong, biblically-speaking. If I were to hold my tongue, yet give off disagreement with my nonverbals, they would still be able to see that I’m not okay with it.
This is why we need to make sure that yes, we raise our children up in the way they should go, but we ought to be very careful making sure that we don’t hold any type of clingy expectations with them. When we let them be free in Christ, they will respect us more.
Take a look at Abraham in the Bible. God told him to leave his family in Ur to go to the Promised Land. What if Abraham’s father, Terah, said, “No, you’re staying here”? If Abraham would have listened to Terah and clung on, he would have missed out on his blessing. Terah came with Abraham to the city of Haran, but didn’t go any further. That’s because he wasn’t supposed to go where Abraham was going. Because Abraham was obedient to the voice of God, he was able to have descendants in a land who numbered in the millions for thousands of years to come.
We must raise our children in the Word, but must be careful to not hinder their own walk with the Lord, even if it means they will be moving away (geographically) in the future. We must act in accordance to God’s will, not our own. In doing this, our children will grow up to learn to hear God’s voice in their lives for themselves. And this, my brothers and sisters in the Lord, is a beautiful thing.