Today is one of my favorite days to run—actually my only favorite day to run. Today is the first day of kindergarten in my school district. This morning I saw young parents and their little kindergarteners on their front porches and driveways taking first-day-of-school pictures. It was precious. Honestly I fought back the urge to stop at each house and give the parents a little pep talk and older mommy wisdom—except I did stop at one house today because I know the family. If I were invited to stop and talk with them, I could tell them many things, but the one thing I think they really need to know today is how their little one will benefit because his parents have age-appropriately released him. The releasing happens not only on the first day of kindergarten, but continues in stages throughout a child’s life.
The thing we parents often don’t realize is that releasing our kids is a good thing for them. There are many benefits they will struggle to receive if we don’t release them. Here are a few to consider:
~Our kids will mature and grow. I’m not sure why, but as parents we think our job is to keep our kids from anything unpleasant. But don’t you and I grow when we go through difficulties and hard experiences? We need to allow our kids space to grow.
~Our kids will make mistakes. Through these mistakes they will learn what doesn’t work. Lessons learned by experience are more often internalized as those taught by someone else.
~Our kids will hear from God. Releasing our kids implies a certain amount of stepping back on our part. We let them make their own age-appropriate decisions and experience the consequences—positive or negative. With our voice less audible they can more easily hear from God. Oh, our voice is never far from their thoughts (I’m sure you still remember a few of your parents’ choice pieces of advice), but it’s not ringing in their ears. In the absence of our voice they have more room to hear from God.
~Our kids will gain confidence. When Kerry was a preschooler one of the books I read often to her told the story of a little mouse who greatly depended on his mom. One day Mommy Mouse went to visit her sister and left Dad Mouse in charge. Dad Mouse spent much of his day napping so little mouse had to get his own juice, find his special toy, get himself dressed, etc. When Mommy Mouse came home, Little Mouse excitedly told her all the things he did for himself that day. Mommy Mouse wisely answered, “I knew you could, my Little Mouse.” When we release our kids in age-appropriate ways, they learn to do more and become more responsible. Their confidence increases.
These truths are true not just for kindergarteners, but for kids in all stages of life—including kids in college or young adult children getting married. Yes, it will be a bumpy path, but hovering will not help our kids. We equip our kids and then step back and see what amazing things they will do. Don’t forget, God is right there alongside steadying them on their new adventure.
As our kids age we need to release them more and more. We cannot live their lives for them.
What benefits have you seen in your child when you age-appropriately released them?
Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.