After a long “sabbatical” from blogging, I am back. It wasn’t a planned break, but financial difficulties made it necessary for me to take a full-time job. So after years of being a homeschooling, full-time mom, I entered a season of being a working, full-time mom (‘ya feel me on that?) Even though I was blessed to be able to transition my kids into a private, Christian school where I was also working and able to still be with them frequently, it hasn’t been easy.
Transitions are hard, but transitions are a part of life. Even though there are seasons of parenting that seem to drag-on forever (like potty-training), and we find ourselves wishing for the next phase to hurry up and come, we are always in a state of transition and they come whether we are ready or not.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 (ESV)
A Time for Everything
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
I happen to love summer. It is for sure my favorite season. I often think that Heaven must be most like summer because everything is green and alive and people seem happier and more relaxed.
But let’s be honest, especially for those of us that live in super-hot climates, after weeks of 100+ degree days, it can feel like it will never end. When we feel that first, crisp autumn day, it is like a breath of fresh air – it’s invigorating! I mean, how quickly do you see everyone busting out their boots, scarves and favorite sweaters the first week the temperature slightly drops?
It’s like we are shocked every time that we are “suddenly” in a new season, as if we weren’t really sure we would ever see it again! The truth is; however, that God has created our seasons to change so gradually that we hardly even notice the transitions as they are happening.
The same is true in life. Things are always moving toward a new season, whether you notice them or not. We don’t jump right from summer to the dead freeze of winter. It is a slow, methodical transition. The same is true for parenting. Some of the biggest challenges in parenting come when the season has changed and your child is ready to transition into a new phase of growth and development, but you want to keep things the same because you really liked the season you have been in and you don’t like the change!
Two of the hardest transitions are from parenting with our authority, to parenting with our influence as they enter into the middle years, and then again when they enter adulthood and we become their friend and consultant and not so intimately involved with every aspect of their lives. With their growth and development into young adulthood comes a slow transition toward more freedom, less training and coaching and more consulting. This can be hard for some of us, (she says, pointing the finger at herself.) Some of us like things to stay the same. We want it to be always summer: we want the kids always little, always at home, always wanting our opinions, always wanting to being held. But the truth is, when we fail to make the transitions with our kids to adulthood, and we fail to give them more freedom as they mature, we become like a hot sweater on a summer day for them. A hot sweater that they CANNOT WAIT to rip off so they can run free in the sunshine, feeling the warm sun on their skin. On the flip side, we can do just as much damage (possible more) when we make transitions before they are spiritually, physically, or developmentally ready for them. In that way, it is like we send them out into the freezing cold world without enough clothing on. In that case, we leave them vulnerable to moral and physical consequences. Our job is to find the Lord’s will on when and how to move our kids into more freedom.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
The unknown paths that lie ahead can keep us trapped in fear, making us want to resist transitions. But when we trust in God and prayerfully consider how to transition our children into the next season of life in a way that honors Him, we can fully make those transitions gradually in a way that is barely noticed until one day they realize, “I have a lot of freedom now! I am starting to be an adult!” In my experience with my kids, it has been a slow transition from lots of boundaries to more and more freedom as responsibility and spiritual maturity is demonstrated. It is not a smooth transition. There have been times where too much rope was given and then we realized it had to be dealt with and some freedom taken back in for a time. The tension of those give and takes through the pre-teen and teen years are rough – but the goal is to continue to move toward preparing the child for adulthood in a way that honors God and puts others first. It is literally a two-steps forward, one step back progression most of the time!
Luke 2:52 (ESV)
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
Our transitions are about helping our children to grow in these same ways. Those are the areas we must always be looking to see if we are progressing in a satisfactory way: in wisdom, in stature, and in their relationships with God and others. If we find that they are not increasing (growing) in one of those areas, we need to take a step back and do some more training.
Speaking of transitions, in a few short weeks I drop this first-born child of mine off at college out of state for his freshman year.
This is a new season for me, and not an easy transition, but it is coming whether I like it or not! As I enter this new season, I can tell you that as much as my heart hurts to let him go, I am excited to see him begin his journey seeking God’s calling on his life.
Enjoy each season you are in with your kids. Be present with them so you can see the small changes that are happening. Be closely connected so you can discern where they are in their growth. Make memories and hide them deep in your heart. The hard work you do in the early years pays off BIG TIME as they enter the teen years. If you build a strong foundation, those teen years can be some of the most rewarding you will encounter!