Giving up the control of your children to God’s Able Hands

Two years ago, when Joy was starting classes at Pike’s Peak Community College.

This week, Joy is home from college, and I am going to enjoy every minute that she is home, so I will pick up Mentoring Monday, 24 ways next Monday. I will spend this week being a mama.

Having Joy home is such a grace to me as my children are truly my best friends. But one thing I have been thinking about as I have talked to her and to Joel and Sarah in the past weeks and even to Nathan, is how little “control” we have over our children. I am so blessed to be close to our children and love who they are.

But, I have been pondering a few things I wish I had known more about as a younger mom.

It is easy to develop ideals as a young mom about how your children’s  lives will look when he become older–their friends, college, meeting a mate, having good health, or Christian friends who share their values, or flourishing in their jobs, that they will live where you do or attend the church you attend–whatever your dream or ideal might be. But these expectations are often disappointed when our children enter their adult worlds if they have not been founded on Biblical perspective of this world, an understanding of this being the temporary place.

“Lay up your treasures in heaven” must be a grid through which we look at life as we lead our children day by day.

We can, in a sense control some of the external circumstances of our young children by directing their schedules, making choices for them, but ultimately, they will all have to grow up and stand on their own two feet. And they must learn to develop their own “muscle” and learn to walk their own walk of faith with God if they are ever going to be strong. We cannot do that for them.

But, this generation of young adults, (of which some of you are!),  is facing very serious moral dilemmas, leadership crisis of every kind, a humanist world view, break up of the family, economic problems and more. And so I have learned, and so have all of the other friends I have who have adult children, that we cannot control the world that our young adult children will inherit. So we must do our best to prepare them to know how to manage their lives in the world they will be entering.

Life will never be “fair” to us, in this fallen world. This is so important for children to understand. If we do not prepare our children with appropriate expectations of what the world will hold, it is like sending a private into a major battle without training, experience, reinforcements, and confidence or a plan. Teaching our children to be spiritually strong is not about having them keep the right rules. A living, active relationship with God, themselves, is our goal. We will be sending our children out into the world as sheep to wolves, unless we train them in their character and in their expectations along the way, so that the “world” will not be a surprise.

Moms who are helicopter parents–who hover over their children, make all of the decisions for their children, protect their children from hurt, meet all of their children’s needs so as to create “entitlement” for their children are preparing them for a disastrous future. If they are going to be “generals” in this battle of life, they must go through life training to prepare them to be able to stand strong–and to know what to expect from the enemy.

This world a place of battle for souls, for ideals, for faith, for stability. It seems that there is compromise in the lives of believers at every point. All of my adult children have been confronted with myriads of very serious problems and choices at each step of the way and the loneliness that comes from living a life of ideals and faith in a generation of young adults who do not value their ideals.

So, what can a mom do? I think one of the most important roles of a mom, is to start out giving her children to God and then praying seriously, intentionally for her children–an understanding that apart from Him, and His intervention and grace, our children have no hope and no formula is ever going to be perfect enough to insure their insulation from a very difficult world.

Then loving God with as much integrity and intentionality in front of them, so that our children will learn a life of faith from us and want to love the God that we love.

Because when our children face these very challenging places, they will need to have the means of finding wisdom from the Word of God for themselves, because we have given them this habit by practicing it in our own lives. And then teaching them how to walk with God on their own, so they can  pour out their hearts and souls for themselves so that God can guide them and speak to the issues of their lives.

But there is one more central issue for passing on a strong foundation. We must teach them to live for God’s kingdom and for eternity. Trying to build a kingdom in this world is vain, and if we pass on worldly values to our children, they may never find what they are looking for, as this world will not ultimately satisfy.

No one person will ever be able to fill all their needs or make them happy. (The world’s picture of a romantic life.)  And no amount of “things” or status will satisfy their souls. So, we must help them to understand that “He who loses his life,” for the sake of the gospel is the only one who will “gain his life” and see how their lives can make sense in this fallen world.

To live for the kingdom gives hope that somehow, even in this broken place with broken people, our lives can have meaning in light of eternity.  This is a secret for helping our children to flourish in their lives amidst all of the challenges they will face–to give them a heart that understands eternal consequences, and to live their lives writing a story that will follow them into heaven for all of time.

And finally, a mom is called to intercede for her children, champion her children and give courage and love and hope and strength each step of the way, because I believe that us mamas are to be the companions of spiritual strength and hope our children need. We are to help our children keep loving God, by loving them and giving to their souls, bodies and emotional needs, as long and as much as we can, so that they will never have to feel alone or unchampioned in this life. A mama’s responsibility is never over till she goes to see Jesus herself.

And so, we give up the notion that we will ever be in control of our children’s lives, but we hold fast to the understanding that we are God’s servants of grace to them as long as we live. And that is why He thought moms were such a good idea when he made the first woman and called her the mother of all the living.


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    • julie says

      Erin, I wish I had the website but I have a hand out called “31 Ways/Days to Pray for your Children”. I try to pray for them everyday for safety, for friendships, for their walk with God, for their learning etc, but I felt that a lot of the “biggies” were falling thru the cracks. If you pray for that one item each day on this list by Bob Hostetler (maybe you could google it), it covers things like your child’ s salvation, self control, respect, passion for God, gratitude etc. It’s just a little one sentence prayer with a verse that applies to it. I keep it inside of my Bible and add the days prayer to my regular morning prayer. I’m sure there are other resources out there, but I understand how overwhelming it is as a mother to feel like we’re so responsible. Now and then I remember to pray for their future spouses too that they are being raised in a loving, Christian home etc. I hope this helps. I am not an expert, but just had been given this 31 ways sheet at church one year and found it helpful.

  1. says

    This blessed my soul today! As a surrendered perfectionist, it has been such a process for me to let go of my ideals of being a perfect parent and having perfect children. We are just walking in grace – knowing who God wants us to be. When you shared about raising children with a foundation focused on eternity & God’s kingdom and not of the world, it reminded me of another blog I once read about not wanting our children to be happy. I think so many parents will do anything to make their children happy, but I want my children to be surrendered to Jesus, content and joyful…happiness is so fleeting.

  2. Alethia says

    Thank you so much for sharing. I’m facing my oldest going into that young adult stage, being on his own, maybe moving away. Some days I don’t know how I’m going to make it and Satan attacks me all kinds of thoughts and fears. A good reminder to pray for my kids and knowing that as much as I love them God loves them even more and created them for a purpose. It is always good to hear from someone farther along in the journey.

  3. Racheal says

    I am so blessed and encouraged by this post. Though Ive never comment before. I have to say for what I lack in a real life relationship I receive here by God’s grace. You have become such a mentor to me and everytime I stop in to read your post…God has used it to minister to me in my journey of motherhood. Thank you so much and I thank God for you and this blog. Many blessing over you and yours :

  4. JennyBC says

    Sally, what wise words. I have two in college and I have to say that for all those times young mother me said, “my kids will never,” or ” my kids will be (blank)” you soon learn you are so not in control. One of children walks closely with the Lord and has since she started college. The other has had his own path, away from some of what he was taught and now back to walking with the Lord. What we learned in his early college years was to not back down from our own walk with the Lord (thinking it would offend him but realizing we had to be true to who we were) to be clear about our expectations (we believe a relationship with Jesus is paramount to all things in life) and that we loved him as unconditionally as possible. I believe being authentic to our beliefs and expectations and yet letting him know that we loved him was what got us all through those early college days. That and face down, on my knees, desperation prayer with two other moms who are a lifeline to me. It was not always easy. He had a few messes to clean up (thankfully nothing against the law). We thought it best to let him figure out his course with little in put from us except again to express our love for him. There were sleepless nights on our part and I am sure on his as well. It’s hard to watch your kids make decisions different from the ones you would make. I am convinced that through of much prayer (that often produced wisdom and guidance we would have never come up with on our own) and because we expressed confidence in his ability to make good decisions as well as assured him of our love for him, we now have a wonderful relationship. He is walking with the Lord, preparing to graduate within the year and looking forward to the future. I have journaled my prayers over the years and the faithfulness of God is not lost on me. On my own, I would have so messed up our relationship. We owe it to them to pray for them but I will also say it is one of my greatest privileges as their mom.

    • Sally says

      Dear Jenny,
      What a wise Mama you are! I admire how you and your husband trust in God.
      What a testimony!

  5. says

    This was a great post and great reminder! I tend to be a perfectionist and want my children to “act” perfect etc. I am doing way better with the Lord’s help. Last week my daughter wanted to go and buy something with some money she had earned. When we went to the store there was something she really wanted but something I really did not want her to have. It is just a personal conviction of mine. She told me she wanted it but she knew that it wasn’t good. (She’s 6) she said well I really want it… Maybe that doesn’t really matter… Mom, whst do you think? I WANTED to say say NO, but really felt I needed to let her decide. I was very nervous about it and felt I was losing CONTROL of her…:( so I told her … I’m going to let you decide but I want you to really think about it and ask Jesus what He wants you to do… It took about 2 seconds and she said … No I shouldn’t get it! I was so grateful that I allowed her to choose and learn to make that decision for herself. I was wAy nervous and almost didn’t do it, but knew that’s what God was leading me to do! Whew! :)) this parenting thing can be tough but God is leading us step by step! Wow!

  6. Beth says

    Thank you for speaking the truth with grace about this issue of parental control. I’m 37 with 3 littles and was raised in a conservative homeschooling family. The ugly serpent head of over zealous control has reared its head in so many homeschooling families, including my own. Even after my almost 15 years of marriage my parents still often try various methods of controlling me and my family. It has sadly made it necessary for us to have a very distant relationship with them.

  7. Discouraged says

    This is going to sound paranoid and anxious..but I have been wanting to do this. I want to be able to give my child to God, but I feel like if I “let her go” something terrible will happen (she’ll die, get kidnapped, etc.) She’s almost 3 and my anxiety about this has gotten worse. I don’t really trust God. I’ve known some really Godly people get cancer and’s just not fair. Any advice..other than see a therapist?

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