Trusting God with your Children
And Samson went down to Timnath and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.
James Taylor once said that songwriting was his greatest joy and deepest agony. The same could be said of parenting. Raising children is a “learning on the job” experience which seems unfair to our offspring. By the time our task is finished we are just beginning to understand what the job entails. (That’s why grandparents are so cool) Parents categorize their mistakes, and the list grows with the years. However, there comes a time when we must, for our own mental health, release our children into the great unknown. Regardless of the job we have done, it is important to understand that raising children does end at some point. Once they have reached a certain age, irrespective of the mistakes we made, they must become responsible for their lives. Eighteen seems to be about right. If you continue to coddle after that age, you are crippling them. Nevertheless, we sometimes persist marching down the parental parade when the music has clearly stopped. Why would we continue viewing our grown children as incapable of functioning in the real world? I would suggest the following: we sometimes feel we have failed when our grown children struggle.
Now, it is natural to judge our parenting by the lives of our adult children, but that is a mistake, and one that has no happy ending. We desire to rush to their side and rescue them. Our hearts are broken with the thought, where did I go wrong. In doing so we impale ourselves on the horns of guilt. Nowhere is this seen in clearer fashion than in the life of an Old Testament judge named Sampson.
Samson’s life resembled a runaway train. He lived like a locomotive with a full head of steam, regardless of the damage rails ahead. He was no doubt an excellent physical specimen, but the defining feature in Sampson’s life was his out-of-control desires. Testosterone flowed through his veins like quicksilver, driving him with the force of a tsunami. When he saw something or someone he wanted, no one could restrain him, not even his fretful parents. Whether he was swinging the jawbone of an ass, or burning the crops of his enemies, this Judge of Israel showed very little judgement in his own personal life. Were his parents responsible for Samsons disastrous life? No. An adult is responsible for his or her behavior. Period! Samson’s life ended in a complete train wreck, and I am sure deeply grieved his parents. Nevertheless, they bore no responsibility for his actions. Hopefully they rejected any guilt associated with their son’s behavior.
Several years ago, there was a television advertisement which depicted two parents sending their child off to college, and as soon as he drove off, they jumped in a car and went to Disney. We do our adult children the greatest favor when we stop parenting and become their friends. Refuse to view your grown children as if they were still in your nest, they have flown the coop. We should still be there when they need us, but the doorknob is only on one side of the door. We give them the greatest model and example as they watch us moving on in life and living to the fullest the years we have left.