Some decades ago, our son taught me what may be the hardest lesson for a parent: “Don’t try to run my life.” He didn’t say it. He just didn’t cooperate with what we, as parents, thought was in his best interest.
He’s a veteran of 20+ years, retired from the army after service in two wars with heavy-mechanic skills that carried over to train engine maintenance in retirement.. He’s not only still married (Both we and her parents thought they were too young, not stable enough) but now a grandparent.
Not one of our three daughters has followed the path we would have chosen for them, but all have found what seems to be right for that daughter. I am forever grateful to my own parents for their attitude as I approached college, career, and marriage: “You decide. We trust you.” I admit there were limits; they insisted I finish Sophomore year before switching colleges to be with my boyfriend, but I had to admit they weren’t unreasonable–they didn’t say “never,” only “wait six months.” They were disappointed when I didn’t go on to medical school, and they would have chosen a different mate for me, but they didn’t manipulate or push me, and I have no regrets for my choices. Their attitude toward my decisions was perhaps their best gift to me. As a return for their trust in me, I didn’t want to disappoint or hurt them, so the freedom they gave me may have kept me from some not-so-good choices.
Of course not every child makes good decisions, but we can’t live for them, and we can enjoy the results, and the surprises, when they do. When they don’t, we can keep loving them–and pray.