Recently, for the first time, our 11-year-old visually impaired son ran around our block, alone.
Itching for independence he’d been asking… and asking. I’d been avoiding… and avoiding.
At last I braved-up and issued numerous instructions like NO RUNNING IN THE ROAD! and LISTEN FOR CARS! and DON’T DIE!
Then I stood on the driveway and waited for him. He made it home and it’s really not the biggest deal but still the world’s a big scary place and who knows what perils may have lurked along a kilometre of suburban sidewalk?
Parenting a tween makes me ultra-aware of the raising-kids-is-like-flying-a-kite analogy. You know – how parenting is a gradual letting out of the string.
We picture our kids soaring into their futures, right? Bright kites in a cloudless sky – free and flying high. It’ll be hard to see them go but we don’t really want them living with us when they’re 35. (Amen?)
Except, raising kids means there’s an actual rising up – not a holding back – and they’ll never be able to crush adulting if we’re clutching the kite strings in our terrified fists, balling up the twine when there’s a hint of danger or discomfort on the breeze.
Timing is everything and the balance is crucial:
Keep the string too short and tight and eventually the tug of the wind is irresistible. The string snaps and the kite is gone – beyond the grip of our control, and even our love.
Let out too much of the string too soon, too quickly, and the kite flops and falls. There’s not enough of the wind of experience for that kite to rise and swoop. Baby kites can’t get off the ground without lots of help and holding and running alongside until they get it.
So I’m thinking – whether we’re parenting teens or tweens or newborns – maybe we could let some of these ideas come alive in our souls and our parenting solutions:
1 Pray for discernment and discretion
Pray you’d see in the natural and see in the spirit and see what’s hidden in darkness and read between lines. That’s discernment. And then pray you’d know what to do with the information. That’s discretion. Pray the Holy Spirit would show you whether it’s a grace moment – time to feather the nest – or a grit moment – time to initiate with a kick the chick’s immediate flying lesson.
2 Liberate, but keep loving
Give freedom slowly and security consistently because letting go of your kids is an appropriate and a time-sensitive endeavour. Again – discernment and discretion (and quick repentance and recalibration when you get it wrong, as you have, and I have, and we both will again).
If no one holds the string, the kite can’t fly at all. Toddlers and teenagers and every kind of human actually – we all need the loving resistance of limits to make us safe.
So it’s really ok if your kids try to jerk free of the string sometimes – resenting you for reeling it in when they’d rather you let it unravel. You don’t need your kids to like you right now because you’ve got lots of lovely grownup friends who think you’re cool.
Eventually, you’ll let go of the string entirely because your kite-kids will be ready for the responsibility of entrusting their string-length-limits to God alone.
Eventually, you’ll let go of their lives. But you can keep holding their hearts. There’s no law against love and you’re allowed to love your kids with everything your heart can possibly hold, for as long as it beats in this life and I daresay you’ll be allowed to love them in the next.
It helps me let go of my kids, little by little, when I remember that God hasn’t stopped parenting me. He still holds the un-snappable kite strings of our lives, fellow parentals, and that makes us safe, and free indeed.
3 Celebrate the inevitable
God gives us kids to raise and release. It’s going to happen. Decide to savour the process, instead of sulking.
What a privilege, moms, that God sparked your kid’s destiny inside your body. Nothing can alter that truth. Ellease Sutherland said, ‘God has plans which mortals don’t understand. He rests in the womb when the new baby forms. Whispers the life dream to infinitesimal cells.’
How incredible, dads, that the cooing against your chest was the monosyllabic loosening of so much potential. Toba Beta said, ‘There are words in the soul of a newborn baby, wanting and waiting to be written.’
Parenting is one of the ‘good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do’. Celebrate that good work. Celebrate the life story God is writing with you and through you for each of your children, even as chapters close forever.
. . .
Have the most fantastic weekend!
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