Parents, Working Ourselves Out of a Job

As my kids grow up and out, I have to learn to let them do things on their own. I’m not really so very good at this as my husband fairly regularly points out. I grew up in a home where my mother just did for us. She literally did everything for my brother and me until the day we moved out on our own. Laundry, cooking, cleaning. She did it all. When it comes to her family, my mother has a servant’s heart. It’s a wonder we don’t still live with her.

She did it out of love and out of a desire for things to be done right. It was mostly just easier to do it herself. I understand this completely. At forty-five, I have made it pretty well. I have had to learn lots of things on my own, but I’m a pretty smart cookie sometimes, and I have figured out that being a great cook (among other things) is not really a requirement. We get by. Thank the Lord for frozen, boxed and canned foods… and for a phone to call my mother to ask her how to do this or that.

Still, I am trying to help my kids along, so that when it is time for them to fly from the nest, they will soar rather than plunge. Case in point: Last week I sent my two oldest children to a new dentist on their own. You would have thought I was sending them up a creek without a paddle when I told them I would not be going with them. But they did just fine. No cavities.

I read somewhere once, that as a parent, if we are doing anything for our children-whether at two or twenty- that they can do for themselves, we are doing them a disservice. Ouch.

Some of us love parenting so much we have forgotten that to be successful at it, we are supposed to work ourselves out of a job.

As Christian parents, we are also charged with teaching our children to lean on their Heavenly Father. While our lives here on earth are finite, it is their Heavenly Father that will go one long after we have said our final goodbyes. We have to teach them to depend less and less on us, and more and more on Him.

As kids growing up, my parents never wanted me or my brother to worry about money. I never knew when there was or wasn’t money in my parent’s bank account. They tell me now of times when things were lean and they didn’t know how they would make it, but I had no idea at the time. They didn’t feel that those kinds of things were something to worry a child over. I can appreciate that they wanted to protect us from that stress, but they also kept something else very important from us as a result.

I depended upon my parents to meet my needs. And they did. I never once wondered where my next meal would come from or if I would have a pillow to lay my head upon at night. They were always there to help me solve problems that came along in my life. What I didn’t get to see was what they did when a problem was too big for them. Where did they go when something too great for even them to handle came along?

Matthew and I try to handle those times a little bit differently. We are not trying to stress our children out, but we want them to know that while mom and dad can fix almost anything, we can’t fix everything, and when those times come, we turn to our Heavenly Father and ask Him for help.

Most of the time, when our kids come to us, we can fix what is broken or advise them how they can best handle a situation. I often tell them, “Mom can fix almost anything.” But on the rare occasion that there is no good earthly solution, we must teach our children to go to their Father in heaven for help. The best way to teach them this lesson is for them to see us doing that very same thing. When problems come that overwhelm us as parents, we don’t always need to go behind closed doors with those problems. Sometimes we need to show them that when there seems to be no answer, we trust that God will make a way.

Children need to know that when they leave the protection and provision of their parents one day, they still have the protection and provision of their Heavenly Father to rely upon. And they learn best when they see that modeled for them in us.

So what do you think?

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