Raising Boys: Of independence, co-dependence, dependence and dependability

Dear boys

I was leaning nauseous on my trolley in the frozen fish aisle of Pick ‘n Pay – pregnant with you, Cam – when I bumped into a woman from our church. I told her we were expecting a boy. She was quite sympathetic. ‘Oh. Well… It’s just that – daughters stay with you. But you raise sons to leave.

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She got zero for tact but in some ways she was totally right.

The moment I knew that each of you would be a blue bundle, not a pink one, I knew that raising you would be the slow unravel of the kite strings I clutched. I knew it would be the daily release of watching you fly higher and further.

I knew you would need me less and less.

But it didn’t feel like martyrdom. It felt kind of exciting.

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I figured, given the moral courage drought ravaging the globe, letting it rain just two good men would make a difference to Kingdom crops.

That’s why we’re all about the independence, me and your Dad.

Usually it’s more efficient and effective for us to do all the stuff that needs doing, but we’re pretty fierce about this: If you can do it yourself, we’re not doing it for you. I won’t be carrying your cricket togs for you when you’re 15. I won’t be making your doctor’s appointments for you because you’re still living at home, at 28. (True stories. Real people. Scary stuff.)

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I love that you still need me quite a bit, but I don’t ever want to need you to need me. None of us is immune to dysfunctional co-dependence and I would be doing society no favours if I sent off into the world two mommy’s boys who never really learned to peel back a Band-Aid on their own.

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So,

We’re engaged in full-contact, hit-one-miss-one, imperfect, prayerful parenting.

We’re trying to begin with the end in mind.

And the end is you guys being independent.

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To us, independence is being able to cook a meal, do the laundry, scrub the ring around the bath, manage your finances, change a tyre, hold a meaningful conversation with anyone who intersects your day, and generally do all the handy things that regular humans do without being asked or thanked or given a YES on the chart.

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Independence is standing on your own two grownup feet and knowing that you’re responsible for your life. Independence is asking yourself, ‘What comes next?’ and then having the courage to commit. It’s believing that there’s a God who knows your name, and being brave enough to step into His plans for your life.

BUT.

The Bible doesn’t actually have much to say about independence.

It does talk about how in Christ we’re free from – independent from – sin. And it does talk about not being lazy – working independently with our own hands for our own money – which by default speaks to the destructive effects of co-dependence.

But mostly, the Bible talks about dependence, and dependability.

From beginning to end of the God-story, we read about our desperate dependence on a Saviour, and about how His character forged in us makes us dependable.

The Word pours stories of community, communion and companionship. Stories about how we’re created to need each other’s strength and trustworthiness. Stories about how the world will wonder Who we follow. They’ll watch us loving each other. And they’ll know.

I still want to help you grow the confidence that will free you to decide for yourself to mow a lawn or catch a plane or ask a girl to be your forever. Because it’s independence – right-sized self-assurance – that lends us the stability to be dependable – the security to know that it’s ok to be vulnerable, and to serve others.

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I don’t ever want your independence to mutate into arrogance or self-sufficiency. I don’t ever want you to think that you’re invincible, or above needing the help or accountability of the body of Christ.

Rather, I want you to be known for your courageous dependability and your wholehearted dependence on the rescuing grace of your Redeemer.

All my love as we lean on Him, and each other,

Mom

. . .

Anyone else battling to balance these concepts? I’d so love to learn from you. You could join our Facebook community, leave a comment, get in touch here or tweet me.

And feel free to share the love by sharing this post.

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