Last weekend I left my oldest child, who is 10 years old, in the hands of a 21 year old college student and a bunch of his buddies out in the boonies of East Texas. I will return tomorrow to retrieve my boy after a week of missing him, counting the days with his younger siblings, and doing without his help, his smile, his constant thoughtful questions.
This was the first time he’s been away from us for any length of time, but my risk was a calculated one. He’s having the time of his life at Pine Cove, a Christian camp for families and youth–where I worked during my own college summers oh so many years ago. We have a history, you could say. And because of that, they have my trust.
But no matter how secure he is at camp, letting go is hard, I’m learning. Parenting is hard–something I’ve known since my first round of nightly feedings. But those days of sleep deprivation and exhaustion (which are only a few months in my rearview, as I also have a one-year-old) only serve as preparation for the longer process of training up a child so he can leave me as a mature, confident, competent, Christ-following young man.
(Did I just say I was training him to LEAVE ME??? Sigh.)
The Bible has a lot to say about parenting, and I certainly can’t cover it all in this post. But my favorite one that seems to apply from year one to year 20-something is Deuteronomy 6:6-7:
“These commandments that i give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
In other words, let God’s Word so infiltrate your heart that it overflows into your conversations and daily interactions with your children. There is no separation of sacred and secular–God’s truth applies to all of it. Jesus desires every corner of our lives. We can’t let Sunday talk sound completely different from Monday through Saturday talk.
My son asks intelligent, creative questions. I sometimes am stumped for an immediate answer. Some mommy friends and I recently were joking that the Deuteronomy phrase “when you walk along the road” could be reworded for our experiences as “when you drive down the road.” We have the most interesting spiritual discussions in our car more than anywhere else!
Where do you talk about God things with your kids? How often do you discuss Jesus during the school week? Are you taking time to pray for, and with, your kids? Is your home (or car) a safe place for them to ask spiritual questions?
I can’t wait for tomorrow morning when I get to see my boy again. And I’m looking forward to the drive home with him.