How to Let Go of the Reins
Years ago, my son, Mark, who was then fourteen, planned to fly alone for the first time from California to Florida to attend a Christian golf camp. As I explained how he should find his connecting flight in Dallas, Mark exclaimed, “I know, Mom, I’ll be okay.” But I knew he didn’t know how to “read” the arrival/departure monitor. “He’ll never find the correct gate,” I moaned.
Several hours later about the time Mark would arrive in Dallas, I knew the phone would ring with Mark telling me he had missed his connecting flight.
Suddenly I sensed God whisper in my heart, “You want him to fail. You want to be needed. Let him need Me instead.”
I was shocked, but realized it was true.
That evening, the phone rang and it was Mark—in Florida. He had arrived safely. “Did you have trouble finding your connecting flight?” I asked him nervously.
“No, Mom,” he replied matter-of-factly. “It was directly across from the gate where I arrived.”
I fell silent. God had provided for him and I had unexpectedly learned the blessing of releasing my son to God’s loving care. That is no more essential than when a child heads off to college. If we’re holding on too tight, they will be less prepared to leave for college as mature adults making their own decisions.
Here are four concepts to help you release your college-bound young adult:
Allow them to make choices. If you encourage decision-making, your children will feel more important and confident as they grow into adults. They’ll also look to you for answers in heavier matters since they’ll know you’re not trying to control their every move. As one parent summed it up: “The more I encourage my son to think for himself, the more he will care what I think.”
Allow them to suffer the natural consequences for wrong choices. If your college-bound student will be living at college, you’ll need to apply this concept even more. You don’t want to spend sleepless nights wondering what mischief your child could be getting into. They will need to learn wisdom from the consequences of their early choices—both good and bad. Consequences will inspire them to make better choices. For instance, by stating clearly the money you plan to provide, and not giving more when they ask, you’ll help them go without something and then learn to plan better in the future.
Allow them to go through stages. Releasing our children means allowing them to struggle at their own pace. Most new college students go through a time of lower grades because of the increased freedom. But most students learn their bearings on their own. By giving encouragement that says, “I know you’ll get your equilibrium again,” builds confidence.
Trust God with their lives - We can’t be with our children every moment. We must believe that God can! God never intended for us to be our children’s Holy Spirit. If God allows something unpleasant in their lives, then we must believe He has something good planned for it. The bible says, “we know that God causes all things to work together for good of those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NASB)
I remember the times we sent our two children off to college and it was an anxious time. Not only did they grow from the experience, so did I! God intends for your child to grow more independent from you and for both of you to grow more dependent upon the Lord.