As parents, we never stop worrying about our children—even when our influence over their actions and decisions begins to wane. In this encouraging article, Lori Ann shares 6 biblical examples to help us stop worrying about our grown children, and instead learn to trust God with every aspect of their lives.
As a mother, I loved the grade school years. I loved helping my kids with science projects. I loved checking math homework and correcting spelling errors. I loved sharing in the language of book reports and in the design of art projects. I loved the tape and teamwork, construction paper and camaraderie.
But when my children hit middle school, they were subject to a new grading system. As emerging adults, they were tasked with more independent assignments and evaluations. No longer would I be able to help with all of their schoolwork. Instead, their grade would be calculated by the sum of two parts: 70% of their final grade would be based on unassisted (independent) work, and only 30% of their grade would be based on assisted (parent-aided) work.
Translation: My input and influence were being limited.
And the worst part was, I soon learned my child could get 100% in the assisted category (like projects and homework we worked on together) and still not get a good grade if they did poor work in the unassisted category (like tests, quizzes, and in-class projects).
All of parenting is like this. Our grown child can score 100% on the parent-influenced part, but the independent part can still throw the final result. We can do everything right as parents, and still not achieve the ‘result’ we had envisioned. And that’s often a difficult reality to accept.
Who they become is less dependent on me than I once believed.
HOW TO STOP WORRYING ABOUT YOUR GROWN CHILDREN
As a hands-on momma, I eventually got onboard with the gradual letting go, but still felt responsible for a large percentage this side of eternity. More than anything, I wanted peace, and a way to stop worrying about my grown children. In desperation, I ransacked the Scriptures for guidance and grace. I latched onto six mentions of children in the Bible, and God’s far-reaching care for them—care that extended far beyond the fingertips of their devoted parents. From these passages, I found six reasons we can sleep easy tonight, despite what is happening today in our adult children’s lives.
1. God Loves Them Even More Than We Do
It’s an understatement to say that Abraham loved his son Isaac. Isaac was a miracle child, born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age as the fulfillment of God’s promise to make Abraham’s descendants a great nation. So when God instructed that Isaac be sacrificed, it tested Abraham’s love for God. But perhaps what we often miss is God’s love and care for Isaac. God protected Isaac even when it seemed there was no other way. Even when it seemed the story was over, even when human eyes couldn’t see a different ending. God’s love for Isaac overshadowed even his earthly father’s feelings for him.
Likewise, God’s love for our adult children always eclipses our own deep devotion for them.
2. God Parents Them More Perfectly Than We Do
King and “man after God’s own heart,” David had both the DNA and the resources to be a top-notch parent. Of his nearly two dozen known children, only a few are mentioned in the Bible. With the notable exception of Solomon, most of the children who were described in Scripture made decisions and lifestyle choices that would have broken any parent’s heart: rape, adultery, murder. Even his favorite son Absalom publicly humiliated David. But God took that messed up family tree and brought the Savior of the world through its lineage—a definitive display of perfect love.
God can take our well-intentioned, yet flawed attempts at parenting and bring ultimate good.
3. God Dreams Bigger Dreams For Them Than We Can
Hannah, like so many would-be mothers we know today, endured years of infertility. She longed for a child. She vowed that if she ever got pregnant, her child would be dedicated to God. Hannah’s promise was something she could envision: “I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life…” (I Samuel 1:11b).
What God dreamed for Hannah’s child was bigger and more detailed: Samuel became a prophet and judge of Israel and restored law, order, and regular religious worship in the land.
As Hannah learned, often our dreams aren’t big enough for our children. We are tainted by practicality and tangible resources. We are constrained by finite amounts of time, and patience, and money. We have our own selfish motivations factored in. We weigh and consider, bargain and prioritize. God is never bound by these. And His vantage point is much higher than ours. As mommas, we’ve all prayed for an outcome for our children we thought was best at the time, but one we’re later thankful God didn’t grant.
God’s dream for our child, on the other hand, is unselfish and unlimited. He sees their full potential.
4. God Understands Them Better Than We Do
At the manger in Bethlehem, Mary likely had no idea that her perfect baby would someday break her heart in all kinds of ways. And while Hannah intentionally left her son at the temple, Mary thought she’d accidentally left hers there. It’s the only story Scripture shares of Jesus’ childhood. But we can assume it wasn’t easy for Mary. Though Jesus had the noblest of causes, I’m guessing His mother noticed during His teen years, or perhaps even sooner, that He was headed down a dangerous path, fearing He was making the wrong kinds of enemies.
Mary was raising a boy she couldn’t understand. But as parents of the fully human, our children are a large mystery, too. As we scratch our heads at their career choices and social decisions, just as He did for Mary, our omniscient Father comprehends it all and lovingly guides us both.
5. God Holds the Patent on Free Will
As a mom, the Parable of the Prodigal Son has put a certain fear in my heart ever since my children were reading it in preschool Bible class. At that time, I was still making most of the decisions for my children. My faith was essentially their faith. And I wanted it to stay that way.
If I had been designing the saving of the world, I would have never factored in the risky element of free will. But God knows that true devotion, pure love, real faith, requires a choice and a decision. It was His bargain, and He knows it is worth the risk to solidify our love to Him.
But our child’s choice is not ours to make. We do our part, they do theirs. That is when we become most closely bound to the heart of Father God. Like the father in the parable, sometimes we let go not necessarily because we’ve come to realize it’s best, but rather we let go because we simply can’t hold on anymore. Through it all, God continues to anticipate every child’s return home.
God invented free will and He understands the risk and reward involved much better than we ever could. For us and for our grown children.
6. God is Already Out Ahead of Them
A daytime pillar of cloud and a nighttime pillar of fire guided the Israelite children during their exodus from Egyptian bondage. In order to lead them this way, God had to be out in front of what was currently happening in their trek. Through four decades, God was way out ahead of these fearful Jewish slaves. He was already in the Promised Land.
God mentioned this going-ahead idea to some other adult children, too. God told Moses, “And the Lord is the one who is going ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not desert you or abandon you. Do not fear and do not be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8, NASB).
Later, God was ahead of Mary’s hometown shame in Bethlehem’s manger, and ahead of Jesus’ Gethsemane agony at the empty tomb.
Still true for His children today, more than just knowing about our future, He exists there. Wherever our adult child is headed, God is already there. God works above and apart from our human, linear timeline. He sees it all and He is in every moment of our grown child’s life. Even, especially, their future.
TRUSTING GOD WITH OUR GROWN CHILDREN
I learned an important parenting lesson when my oldest child completed her first science fair project without me: The assisted percentage eventually begins to diminish in all areas of parenting. As such, the battle for our child’s destiny is not ours to win. Though we can assist in certain ways, we can’t do enough to independently secure the outcome.
I also realized something else to help me stop worrying about my grown children: Mommas can take comfort in the God who gave us this role in the first place. And we can trust His process. Mercifully, the scoring is not logical; it’s not a level playing field. The Creator of the Universe is doing everything that can be done in the battle for our grown child’s heart.
His Word displays the character of a good Father who still specializes in redemptions, surprise endings, and second chances.
For a season, God gives parents flawed, free-willed, finite people to care for. And yet, we are flawed, free-willed, finite people ourselves. We work hard at holding on, then we work even harder at letting go. All the while we know deep down we don’t get to keep our children, and we don’t get to control them, or the outcome of their lives.
We all eventually learn that our parental influence will wane. As our children grow into independent adults, the assisted percentage keeps getting smaller, even though the responsibility we feel sometimes doesn’t.
Anne Frank was hinting at the assisted/unassisted evaluation scheme when she said, “Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”
Though Anne Frank’s wisdom was far beyond her years, there’s another important contribution a parent can make to their adult child’s life.
WHAT’S AN OVER WORRYING MOTHER TO DO?
A mother’s spoken influence, small as it may eventually become, matters even if it doesn’t seem like it. Though I gave her many disappointments and sleepless nights, all my life I’ve known that I heard God’s voice first through the lips of my own momma. Songs and prayers and wisdom before I could even understand. And every word mattered.
Like my own young adults, I moved away from my momma too, and made some decisions she wouldn’t have chosen for me. But her faith-filled words carried me through many rough spots. And it was her prayers that made the biggest impact. After she passed, I found written proof of her heartfelt pleas for me, at times of my greatest need.
So I’ll keep praying over lives I mostly can’t envision and dreams I often don’t understand. And I’ll keep entrusting their hearts and their futures to a far-sighted, perfect Father who loves them more, understands them better, and dreams bigger dreams for them than I ever could.
What comfort does Lori Ann’s examples bring you as you worry over the choices your grown children are making? What lessons about trusting God have you learned along the way in your own parenting journey?
15 SIMPLE WAYS TO ADD JOY TO YOUR DAY IN LESS THAN AN HOUR
Need a little extra joy in your day?
Our team has put together this FREE printable for our readers to help you infuse joy into your life quickly. Enter your name and email below and we’ll send this fun printable right over!
Share This Post