Commend them to the grace of God, trusting in your own heart that God loves them even more than you do and that his plan for them is even better than your own. Pray for them and pray with them as you part and make this your final and ultimate petition before the Lord: nevertheless, not as I will but as you will. Oh, and remember to treat them like adults.
I won’t ever forget the day we dropped Nick at college. We had driven him down to Louisville, Kentucky where he had enrolled in pre-seminary studies at Boyce College. We had helped get his little dorm room all set up. We had dropped by the bookstore and picked up the last of his textbooks. We had attended the orientation meetings and the chapel service. We had huddled together to pray. And now there was just one thing left to do—begin our journey home and leave him behind.
As I drove along Lexington Road and made my way toward I-64, Aileen sat beside me and wept. She did not weep gently. She did not weep in such a way as to have a few tears trickle gently down her cheeks. No, she wept as if her heart had been torn in two. Hours later we arrived home and, as we began to settle in for the evening, I had my own moment of emotion when it came time to lock the doors, for I realized that I was no longer locking all my children in to the safety of our home, but this time locking one of them out.
We adjusted quickly, of course. Nick thrived at Boyce and we took great joy in his joy. How could we lament his absence when he was doing so well, learning so much, and growing so substantially in wisdom and godliness? Two years later we had to do it again when Abby headed down to join him. We found her departure a little bit easier having gone through it once, but also a little bit harder in that it came in the midst of a pandemic that had very nearly closed the border between our countries. In August of this year we will do it all again, Lord willing, when Michaela journeys down to take up her studies there. This time we will be empty-nesters, at least for the duration of the school year.
A friend recently asked for some guidance for parents whose children are leaving home, perhaps to go to school or perhaps to join the military or perhaps just to begin an independent life. “What counsel might you give them” she asked? I thought I’d take a few minutes to consider it. Here’s what I came up with.
First, I would encourage parents to deliberately begin loosening their oversight well before their children leave.