This Is What We Raise Them For

High school graduation. A time of celebration & reflection. I find myself tearing up a lot. But my friend reminded me, this is what we raise them for!

This week was filled with the last of the lasts for my twin high school seniors. They officially “checked out” of our school district. Soon, they will have their high school diplomas in hand.

While I was waiting in the car for my son to finish his paperwork, a friend of mine walked over to see how I was doing. I told her I had been crying, and she said with great enthusiasm, “Don’t do that! It’s going to be ok!” I responded with it being the last of the lasts.

And then she said, “This is what we raise them for!”

Her comment got me thinking.

Tears look back, remembering both joy and regret over their childhood. It’s an appropriate response to the end of a tender season. Knowing we could have done (many) things better. Doubting if what we did is enough for our kids to be successful in their next phase of life. Remembering sweet times, too. Milestones, times filled with laughter.

Enthusiasm looks forward to what God has in store for their futures. Knowing many more treasured times are ahead. Not doubting, but trusting that God is with them, leading and guiding them as He has me.

Yielding everything …

One morning when my children were very small, I was praying in preparation to teach a Bible study. Part of the lesson included yielding everything to God. I knew I couldn’t teach until I took care of the issue God had his finger on in my life. I remember sitting on my sofa with my hands open in my lap–releasing my children into God’s care. Sort of physically transferring them from my hands to God’s. Through tears I told Him that He could do whatever He wanted to do with my kids. (The tears indicated that I truly didn’t trust God with them. My head knew better, but my heart had not caught up.)

From time to time, I have snatched them back, and subsequently returned them to Him. But that purposed … God, You may have my children to do with them whatever You want … I have not done in a long time.

Versus hanging on …

If you’ve done any gardening at all, you are familiar with vines. As an unexperienced gardener, one of my first plants was a passion vine. Oh! The unusual beauty of that flower! The leaves, food for caterpillars that soon become butterflies! I thought, What a wonderful treat for my young children! We’ll have butterflies everywhere!

Ahem. I had some learnin’ to do.

Yes, we had a lot of caterpillars. Yes! We had some butterflies!

But I did not know how to tame the vine. Eventually It grew out of control, entwining itself around every other plant my husband had planted, choking the life out of them. In my frustration, my neighbor came over, and we ripped out every bit of that vine.

As parents, we can choke the life out of our kids if we aren’t careful.

As our children mature, we give them more and more freedom. Freedom to make their own choices, even if it means they fumble. We pick them up and help them learn from those mistakes. Hanging on too tightly keeps them from experiencing this maturing process in a safe environment.

Similarly, our kids need to grow spiritually on their own. They need to recognize God’s voice and discern His direction for their lives. Then they get to experience the joy that follows obedience and the sting of discipline when they don’t. They’ll see God work–producing fruit right in front of their eyes. If I hang on too tightly, I squelch that opportunity. I keep them from experiencing God’s best for them.

So here I am …

This milestone is an appropriate time for reflection and celebration. It’s also, for me, time to release them to God once again. The truth is … what better place for them to be than in the care of their Heavenly Father? He knows them much better than I do. After all, He created them–for His purposes.

In order for my adult children to grow into those purposes, I have to grow, too. Releasing them into God’s care allows Him freedom to work in their lives. Then they will be free to hear His voice and grow in their own relationship with Him. (And God can work more freely in my own life, as well.)

Releasing my kids into God's care allows Him freedom to work in their lives--and in mine.Click To Tweet

This is what we raise them for …

The purpose of parenting is to develop independent, responsible adults who love and follow God. High School graduation is the door to that beginning. How I “let them go” is an example to my children of my faith and trust in God’s ability to lead and guide them. So while I’m sure there will be some more tears in the next couple of days, I want my kids to see that I fully trust God with their lives.

And it is impossible to please God without faith … (Hebrews 11:6)

My parenting is not finished yet. Between now and when my kids become independent adults, they still have some lessons to learn from Mom and Dad. (And probably a few more after that!) I’m thankful for my friend who reminded me that this milestone is a step toward independent adulthood. Which is what we raise them for!

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16 replies

  1. Much needed thoughts for my own life today: like you, I’ve got a boy graduating this year, and then another son getting married. Overwhelming changes, and yet ALL GOOD. We can’t let our nostalgia lessen our rejoicing for the way God is leading these kids who belong to Him!
    Michele Morin recently posted…Martin Luther in His Own WordsMy Profile

    • All in balance. Right, Michele? I’m so thankful that my kids do belong to the Lord. This new phase of parenting is going to be interesting! (Of course, you’ve already walked some of this with your older son!) Blessings on your weekend!!

  2. Diane, first may I say, “Congratulations!” It truly is such an exciting and yet, emotional time. I remember those days well. But then I want to thank you for reminding me, “that is what we raise them for!” Yes, I so want to see each of their lives lived for the purposes God has for them. Blessings to you and your family!

    • Thanks, Joanne! I’m so glad a friend helped me to see this perspective. It’s been in the front of mind all day. Blessings to you and your fami,y this weekend!

  3. SO many changes and new adventures. A time of sadness and yet happiness. I feel for you. Yet, like you say, we raise them for this. To eventually spread their wings and soar away. And yet you are still part of their life. You both move to interacting as adults. I remember when this happened with my dad. When I quit treating him as my dad and relying on him as my dad, and we had a more adult relationship and were both equals and best friends.

    • I’m looking forward to more adult-type relationships with my kids as they become more and more independent. Thanks for taking time to read and comment, Theresa.

  4. My first born graduates from high school tonight so I totally resonate with your post! It’s been an emotional morning, and I have seen this week how much I am not trusting God with his future. He is highly functioning autistic and so I often wonder if we will truly launch an independent adult or if our future will look different than I thought.

    No matter what, he is the Lord’s and the Lord holds our futures as they overlap each others.

    • Oh, Aimee … thank you for sharing your heart here. I have a friend who also has a highly functioning autistic son. He is doing great! Living separately from his parents. Regardless of what God’s plan is for your son, as long as he is living within God’s plans and purposes for him, it’s success. Praying tonight is especially meaningful for you all. xoxo

  5. Oh how wonderful! This helps my heart not look to this next year with heaviness! It is what we raise them for! Thank you for sharing this tender message.
    Tammy McDonald recently posted…Comment on When Mother’s Day Hurts by GgmandyMy Profile

    • Tammy, you’re going to love next year with your girl. I look forward to seeing how God uses it to grow you and you share that with us!

  6. I remember those days, Dianne. So many emotions running rampant in a momma’s heart. Isn’t it glorious we know to lean into God and find comfort in placing our children {who are becoming adults} into His hands. Love your words: “It’s also, for me, time to release them to God once again.” From my own experience, I can honestly say there is nothing more gratifying than seeing your children take their place as Godly men and women in a world that desperately needs them to be who He created them to be! Thanks for this amazing post!

    • Thanks for your encouragement, Karlene. That’s exactly what I want for my kids, for them to be who God created them to be … reaching the world for Christ. I look forward to seeing that!!

  7. Great thoughts, Dianne… Lots to think (and pray) about!

  8. As my girl graduates next week, I can so relate. I cried even harder when I dropped my boy off to college 2 years ago. Yes, this is what we raise them for! I’m asking God for a hopeful perspective on their future AND on mine! I’m not sure how many younger kids you have, but it’s so weird to think of the day when my daughter leaves. Thankfully, she’ll stay with us for her gap year.
    Betsy de Cruz recently posted…7 Important Scriptures You Want Your Teens to KnowMy Profile

  9. Thank you for this! My daughter will be a junior this year and I find myself becoming sad thinking of her leaving. You’re right, that’s what we raise them to do.
    It’s one of the greatest blessings to experience growing children, but I have to remember they belong to God.
    Visiting from Faith’nFriends
    Julie recently posted…How to Minimize Anxiety with a Simple, Successful HackMy Profile

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