By Jenny Dy
Our daughters are 11, 10, and six, and we hit a milestone on independence this week. We let the two older ones walk to their grandparents’ house unaccompanied. It doesn’t sound like such a big deal, but my heartbeat paced a little faster until I got the message “we’re here,” because it’s something we’ve never allowed them to do on their own.
Psalm 127:4 says, “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.” When carefully aimed, arrows fly straight and true. If launched haphazardly, they’ll likely miss their mark. Children are like arrows. You cannot keep them in the quiver forever or else they lose their purpose. Someday, you have to let them go and hope to God they hit their mark.
Today, you can just go and buy yourself a bunch of machine-made arrows, but in the early days, each arrow was uniquely crafted from a branch with each one having its own individual character. The best archers had as much to do with shaping their arrows as they did shooting them. Like archers, we as parents have a role in shaping the lives of our children. As one day, we aim to release them into the world, hoping that they will hit the goals meant for them.
I think of these things as my daughters approach their teenage years. They are still quite young, but like any doting mother, I constantly think of their future. When they were still small, all you needed to think about is slowly letting go of their hands as they learn to walk, teaching them to feed themselves with a spoon and many other milestones that require mistakes to help them learn. Sure, there are tears when they fall and bruise and many times, you may need to clean up multiple spills and messes, but we are constantly there for them.
During these years, how we respond to each mistake is crucial in shaping them.
Parents as instructors
Before the kids reach the age of five, we parent as instructors. We tell them exactly what to do, teach them to trust and obey our words in our desire to keep them safe from harm, draw boundaries, and guide them that certain actions, whether good or bad, have consequences.
Parents as coach
As they grow a bit older, we give them more flexibility. We help them learn through natural consequences. By letting them fail when they are small, we help them develop their decision-making skills required as they become more independent from us and are influenced by their peers.
Parents as counselors
As the girls near the teenage years, I realize that they are becoming more independent. As parents, we have to learn to give them a little more freedom as they develop their identities. Much like arrows, after we point our kids in the right direction, we must eventually let go.
Here are some of the ways we try to “sharpen our arrows:”
1. Let them learn from their mistakes.
stakes. If we rescue our children all the time, because we’re afraid that they’ll get hurt, then they will never develop the skills necessary to cope on their own. You can help them solve their problems, but don’t solve any for them. Ask questions and don’t provide all the answers.
2. Give them opportunities to learn.
Know what’s important and catch the teachable moments. If you want them to learn how to cook, let them make a mess in the kitchen. If you keep pointing the mess out, they will eventually walk out of the kitchen.
3. Keep on encouraging them.
Giving affirmation can help build your child’s confidence. Let home be a safe place to communicate. Don’t keep silent when something goes wrong. A healthy discussion of the incident while ending in a moving forward solution can foster a solution-oriented culture in your family.
4. Allow them to say no.
We can teach our kids to disagree politely and respectfully. This helps them to set boundaries and have the courage to say no to strangers or their peers in the future.
5. Don’t anchor your identity on your child.
Sometimes, we see controlling parents who require their children to perform certain tasks in order to satisfy their own desires. Give your child space to develop and express their own identities with separate ideas, feelings and needs from yourself.
6. Putting Christ in the center takes away your fear.
God loves our children more than we could ever do. When you raise your kids to follow Him, and have them depend on God instead of you, then you’ve just taught them the key to a well-lived life. When you find yourself beset with worry, anxiety, and fear, understanding that you can rely on God will help you find rest.
Letting go is difficult, and some parents never let go, and when that happens, some kids never make it to their target. The important thingi s to point them to the right direction, and if you love your kids, you will continue to sharpen them well. One day, you will both be ready to let go.
About the author:
Jenny Dy is a Christian writer who suffered through five miscarriages before being wonderfully blessed with three beautiful girls aged six to 11 years old. She blogs about family, relationships and parenting at www. growingwithjenny.com and on Instagram @raisingdygirls. She has been married to property speaker Carl Dy for more than 16 years. Both Carl and Jenny do talks on parenting. For bookings, you may get in touch via 0917-5316310 or thru www.carldy.net