Saturday, June 2, 2012

Out of Sight

Sarah is in Israel for the summer, interning at Nazareth Village.

Nazareth Village (
Dana and I noticed an interesting phenomena. The further Sarah got from home, the less we worried. Now, don't get me wrong, we still care. But, we have peace knowing the family she is living with, that good plans have been made, and that she is with two great friends.  And, we pray, get emails, and expect to Skype some.

We have found that we get more worried about our children driving from our home to the grocery than we do when they are in other countries. When they get in the car here, we want so much to say "Go slow," "There are crazy drivers," or what has become a standard line that expresses our angst, "Be careful, it is slippery out there." Said even in dry weather.

It seems that one of the best steps we can take to help our older children be bravehearts is to get them out of our sight.

That doesn't mean that we don't love them and care and want them to be safe and succeed. It means that there comes a time when some distance helps them know we trust them, that they are capable, and that what happens depends on their choices.

Courage does not happen when we are comfortable. Without taking risks that need courage, growth slows and impact is hindered.

Jesus found difficulty in being accepted in his hometown and said "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household."  There is something about making a difference that does not happen as well close to home.  It is hard for family to let go of the past and, perhaps, their continued desire to care and worry. When in the close circle of being known, we often have a hard time being free to become a person who is using gifts and opportunities boldly.

How do we help growing and older children to get out sight so they can boldly use their gifts with courage?
And, hopefully we can relax more! Here are three ideas:

1. As they grow, increasingly give them times when you are not there to watch and intervene.  If separation anxiety exists, make sure it isn't yours! Drop them off and go.Don't watch recess from behind a tree or soccer practice from the bleachers. Let them grow and learn to trust God without you, in progressively larger steps.
2. Keep building your own life. God is God, children aren't gods to absorb all of our attention. Build memories with your spouse. Find expanding ways to use your time for others as your children grow. Develop your own gifts and impact so that you can let go and they know you have a life without them. Help them learn they aren't the center of the world and that you won't always rescue them, even though you care deeply.
3. Help children learn to manage risk and approve their plans, asking all of the questions you need to ask. Our son, Luke, and friends wanted to go to Florida for spring break during their senior year of high school. We said no. Until they developed a plan to be on the west coast, away from some big beaches. And, to stay with the grandmother of one of the young men!

I won't say that we haven't been watching the weather in Israel and reading maps and books about the area now. We have. And, we love getting email updates. But, I don't worry about the detail, partly because I don't know them. That isn't bad. That is healthy.

Sometimes helping children be brave is harder on parents than on the child. Maybe it will help to get them out of sight a bit, we can learn to trust better and they can grow.

God bless you in this hard parenting work!

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