The Incredible Journey to Independence: The Path of Every Parent & Child
Finally! It’s here. Summertime. Everyone’s favorite season that includes special days and celebrations, like Fathers Day, Independence Day, and graduation day. Wow, all those graduations.
As a father and grandparent, I know those days invoke so many lasting memories of time spent with family, shared experiences that we look back on so fondly, somehow hoping to recapture the magic of those moments, and yet the emotions stirred by those memories are a reward in themselves.
These special days of summer also serve as a reminder, as a point of reference that time indeed does march on. And that as parents the significance of “Independence Day” doesn’t just pertain to our nation, but that our children, those we have invested our entire lives into, are careening at breakneck speed towards their own “independence day”. Graduation day comes and we are so busy with the preparation and the fanfare to celebrate and honor that special graduate, and even in the midst of that busyness there are these pervasive thoughts, such as: How did that happen so fast? Things are going to be so different now. But are they really ready for what's next? What more could I have done to prepare them?
We look to grab hold of something, some source of assurance that everything is going to work out, that no one is going to “crash and burn”. As a person of Faith, I look to the scripture, and quite often land on Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it”.
So without doing a full expository teaching, let’s just break it down and grab some insight from this verse. First of all, as a parent, many times we like to think of this as one of “God’s promises”. In actuality, it fits into the category of “words of wisdom”, in keeping with the Proverbs. The Proverbs 22:6 meaning is not a promise that if we train our kids to love God that they will do it. God allows each person to make their own decisions and never forces them to do what is right. Rather this verse is a general truth; most kids that are brought up in a home that lovingly trains their children in the wisdom of God will continue to live that way in their adult life.
It’s interesting to note that the admonition to train up a child is not specifically directed just at parents. In our outreach to fathers, the majority that we have the opportunity to come alongside come from homes that are predominantly unstable in nature, including many without a resident father. In other words there is no one to impart to them any kind of Godly foundation. So, if the parent is not fulfilling that role (usually because it was lacking for them as well), then who will stand in the gap for them?
I spoke with one of our prospective male advocates recently and he shared a little of his own story of being abandoned by his father at a very young age. As he got older he desired to locate his dad, and after some extensive searching he found him living in Mexico. When he approached his father and introduced himself, he said that his father simply handed him fifty dollars and said that it would be better if they never spoke again. Curious, I asked him how he was able to have such a positive testimony of a strong faith in his life, and he answered that it was his grandfather who embraced him and modeled for him what it was to love God and live for Him. I say thank you to those who are willing to stand in the gap like this grandfather, we need more like him.
And so when we “train up” a child by living authentically in front of them, modeling our own dependance on God, teaching them truth with grace, what that looks like and how we apply that to our everyday life, in so doing we give our children a frame of reference that they can use as a foundation themselves as they begin to navigate life independently and as they start to make their own decisions. And don’t worry, you will still be part of the picture, in fact, your relationship with your child will begin to take on a whole new beautiful dynamic, as it should.
Director of Fatherhood Initiative