We all have a deep-seeded desire to be independent, don’t we? From a very early age, our children are bound and determined to exercise their will and exert their independence. They long for their own Independence Day.
As teenagers, they have their own version of the Boston Tea Party to rebel against the tyrannical rule of their parents. Declaring their independence. I wonder if our forefathers ever had a moment where they looked around at each other and thought, “Well, crap. What do we do now?”
I remember that feeling myself after my parents dropped me off at college. It wasn’t long before I called my dad and told him I wanted to come home. Never spending the night anywhere except with family, I felt completely alone, despite my aunt living only 10 minutes away. I sure wish I used that to my advantage.
What I didn’t have was a relationship with God. I was an adult (the law even said so) and I needed to figure everything out for myself.
Countdown to Independence
Bug is about to turn 16. She is already counting down until she is 18 – until the day she is no longer dependent on us. That’s what she thinks anyway. She is wanting to leave as soon as she can and go as far away as she can. That girl came out of the womb ready to be gone. Had the doctor in the delivery room handed her the scissors, I am sure she would have cut her own umbilical cord. I’m sure her cry upon entering the world was disappointment that her detachment via umbilical cord was not, in fact, a ticket to her freedom.
Some days, I’m already holding back tears about the day I’ll help her move her most prized possessions from my house to her own. I know when she does become independent all I can pray is that she doesn’t become dependent on herself but places her dependence on God.
A Child’s Independence Day
In a sense, I think Bug (as well as other teenagers) long to break free from their parents’ tyrannical authority. Mr. B and I have been telling the kids for years that we want to give them all the freedom they desire, but as parents, we would be irresponsible to just give it to them without them taking the steps to own the responsibility of that freedom. Part of the reason why Mr. B and I changed the way we shop with the big kids for clothes.
Related Post: How I Won the Battle Shopping with My Teenagers
Once Bug gains her independence from us, she becomes dependent on herself to provide all that has been provided for her up to that point. At some point, the dependence on herself will be overwhelming. Doesn’t it always go that way?
If we could always rely on ourselves, there would be no need for God. And he is too loving to allow us to live a life without him.
In John 15:5, Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
The vine is what provides the nutrients to the branches so that they may live. In the same way, Jesus provides us with the life-giving nutrients so we may have life and have it to the full. (John 10:10)
3 Reasons Why I’m Raising Dependent Kids
1. Growing in dependence on God keeps their lives stable.
Our children need to be raised to find something at the center of their universe that will remain stable. Let’s be realistic. I won’t always be around. I don’t want my children’s lives to crumble and fall into chaos because I’ve allowed them to make me the center of it. It is best for me to teach them now how to fall gracefully and get back up again. But they can’t always rely on themselves. When everything around them seems like it is falling apart (and let’s face it, it will fall apart at some point), only God will remain the stable center of their universe.
2. Growing in dependence on God grows their maturity.
It’s so difficult to let our kids go, isn’t it? How ironic though! I’ve got Bug and Bubba who are only a few years away from graduation and making their own decisions. And then I’ve got the little ones. Punkin and Baby Mac are in diapers and I get so excited thinking about the day I get to stop wiping their butts. But then I find it difficult sometimes to let Bug and Bubba do things on their own for fear that they will make a mess.
What a disservice I’m doing to my kids if I don’t give them some freedom to make their messes and learn from them!
To use the diaper analogy, I can either grow my kids up to wipe their own butts or wind up helping them clean up the disastrous explosive mess because they don’t know how to take care of things themselves. After the last 5 1/2 years of changing diapers, I’m done cleaning up explosive messes.
3. Growing in dependence on God teaches them to glorify God.
I won’t lie. If one day I hear my kids say what a great mom I was and how I helped them to become the person they are, I would get so caught up in my feelings I don’t think there would be enough tissues for all the snotty ugly cry that would ensue.
But through the next generations, my greatness would not seem as great. Hearing someone’s greatness third and fourth hand doesn’t have quite the same impact as it does from someone’s first-hand experience.
Now, the greatness and glory of God! That kind of greatness has lasted for thousands of years. And doesn’t lose it’s intensity as the generations go on talking about him.
Any glory given to humans will one day begin to fade. But the glory of God will always last and it’s his glory that has the eternal reward.
So how do we break free from our desire to be independent?
Our desire to be independent of God is because we don’t trust him to know what’s good for us.
The first step in breaking free of our desire to be independent of God is to recognize that he does want what is best for us. But remember it’s not just for our time here on earth. He is more concerned about our eternal life. So if something does not seem to go according to plan and prayers don’t seem to be answered, we must remember that he is working for the good of those who love him. One day, we will understand why.
I always tell my children that my job is to work myself out of a job. I am not raising children but adults. Part of that is for them to be independent of me. But my job is also to raise them to be dependent on God.
And let’s not forget that I actually want to be able to “retire” one day. So there’s that also.
It’s difficult to let go. A piece of my heart travels with Bug wherever she goes and I want to do all I can to protect my heart. The best way for me to do that is to grow her in ways that teach her how to protect it herself as she grows.
And then bow my head in gratefulness and reverence to the One who is going to help her with that.