Wednesday, June 25, 2014

why we shouldn't be so controlling with our kids

Summer vacation hadn’t even begun and already I was tested. She held the party invitation in her hand while her eyes pleaded. Please mom, she’s my best friend-I have to go to her party.

I didn’t want to say yes to this one. It was a party on the day school got out, the very first not school night of a summer that already feels way too short. I am learning the hard lesson of letting go as my children are growing up. Honestly, this is not my favorite lesson. I would rather choose bubble wrap and insulation, or perhaps a tall tower, Rapunzel style. But I realize that’s just not realistic, or even practical in the raising of children.

I talked the matter over with my husband Zac. Always the fun one, he is quick to say yes and finds it much easier to let go. We decided that this was a good one to say yes to, despite my reservations. My daughter eagerly made a birthday card and wrapped up some bottles of sparkly blue nail polish. We delivered her to the birthday girl’s house just one minute past the designated start time. We met the mom again, told her friend happy birthday and reluctantly drove away. I prayed over her as we drove home. I asked God to speak to her, cause her to feel like she needed to leave if for any reason that wasn’t the right place for her to be. It wasn’t because we didn’t trust this family, it was simply because we didn’t know this family. It felt very risky for a recovering controller like me to leave my daughter in the care of someone I didn't know.

This is where the gentle spirit of God whispered to me that he’s got this all under control, because he does, I don’t have to. The controlling part of me wants to hold them tighter, keep them home, say no to parties, limit the risk of any negative thing. But the controlling part of me forgets that keeping them safe isn’t my job, it’s God’s. 

Back home, we were eating dinner when the phone rang. Not recognizing the number, I answered. It was my daughter asking if she could get picked up half an hour earlier. Of course, yes you can. After assurances that she was okay, we hung up. Five minutes later, the phone rang again. Feeling nervous now, I made sure she was okay. My mother’s heart was racing at this point, wondering what was up, was she really safe? And then again, she called. At this point Zac decided we should go. We raced over to the party girl’s house. We were met with a daughter who was sensing the nudge of the spirit of God. 

She was never in any danger, there was no funny business, nothing other than grade school girl birthday party stuff. But God used this as an opportunity for my daughter to practice hearing from God. She couldn’t identify why, she just felt uncomfortable and like she wanted to go home. It was exactly what I had prayed for.

So many times, we think we need to control things in order for our children to be safe. And to a small degree, that is true. As parents, we have a responsibility to provide a safe environment, and to keep them from obvious danger. But we also have a tremendous opportunity to allow our kids to learn how to listen to God, and practice hearing that still small voice. There will come a day, in fact many days, when our children are away from us. By controlling them and being helicopter parents now, we deny them the chance to learn how to reason for themselves and listen to God’s promptings.

I want to hold tight.

But God wants to teach our kids the gentle ways of his freedom.

I want to micromanage.

But God wants to instruct them in the ways of his still small voice.

We all learned something that day. I think I got the best lesson, at least the best one for this recovering controller. God wants to take care of my kids, even more than I do. And because he is the best teacher, I need to get out of his way.


  1. So true and so hard at the same time! Thank you for this.

  2. I needed to read this today! thank you!

  3. Enjoyed reading this- glad I'm not the only one:)


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