I had an interesting conversation yesterday with one of my patients. Her unmarried, 30-something daughter had recently moved out. Neighbours’ tongues were wagging and criticism of the daughter was voiced since my patient is not in the best of health. How could she possibly leave her mother at a time like this?
The truth is, Connie (not her real name) urged her daughter to get out and start living life away from her mother’s shadow. Connie wanted daughter #2 to have a place of her own so she could have dinner parties, invite friends over, play the piano when she felt like it, learn to live on her own. Connie’s 2 other grown children were thriving in very unusual professions and living in other cities.
I asked her how it was that her other children had so much passion for their unique careers. Her response was wonderful. She explained that when her kids were growing up, her main concern was that they be happy with the choices they made. To her it didn’t matter so much what profession they chose but that they were passionate in their career and their life. And she prayed for them.
One owns a successful health-related business. Another is in demand as a consultant on movie sets for his expertise in a highly specialized field. Both of them met many difficulties in pursuit of their dreams but mom’s encouragement and their sheer tenacity resolved any problems. She pushed her youngest daughter out of the nest, better late than never, because she wanted the same for her.
Like my patient, I want the best for my children. I want them to be happy, secure, centered on God and living a life of purpose. While I don’t consider myself an expert on childrearing, it’s a topic that is uppermost in my mind.
I think the best way for my husband and I to help them attain all that we would like for them is through prayer, asking God to give them the gift of discernment so that they can know His will for their life and be able to discern the good from the bad. Following God’s Will is what gives real joy through deep faith, even with life’s inevitable challenges. Just as important as praying for them is praying with them. If they see their parents humbling themselves before God, they will probably do the same.
The next best thing we can do is encourage and support them in their good decisions but voice our concerns over any questionable choices. We can’t tell our grown children what to do, but we can certainly tell them what we think. Being interested and present in their lives is necessary. Of course, with the younger children, “no” is a love word.
Instilling in them a sense of responsibility, whether through chores, a part-time job and school work gives them a sense of purpose, commitment, independence and work ethic. Encouraging them to do volunteer work shifts their focus away from themselves and onto others and develops an attitude of giving back.
And even though I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Prayer. Constant prayer for them and with them.