I stumbled upon a beautiful photo today on social media, posted by my youngest granddaughter. She was cradling her precious newborn son—a gentle nudge from life, a reminder of the cyclical seasons we all share, swiftly passing by. My mind promptly waltzed back to the days when I held my own babies—decades ago, yet it feels like a mere blink of an eye. Back then, I hoped for my daughter and son’s futures, fervently praying that God would be their guiding light. As a new parent, I thought I knew it all, only to realize now, seasoned by the passage of time, that it wasn’t entirely true. If I’d known then what lay ahead in the form of challenges, heartaches, and celebrations for my children, I might have considered raising dogs instead of becoming a parent.

“There is no manual for how to raise children,” is a cliché we often hear. Technically, there is—it’s called the Holy Bible. Every question about right and wrong, about treating and loving others well, finds an answer in that Book. My qualifications for motherhood? Well, they stemmed from my parents’ examples, a few babysitting gigs, and my unwavering belief that God would watch over my kids, despite my inevitable mistakes.

I remember whispering to the Lord in my prayers, a conversation held when I was still carrying each of them in my womb. I acknowledged them as gifts, loans for a short period, promising to teach them about Jesus and then willingly giving them back to God’s care. Yet, as the years passed and they turned eighteen, I had to remind myself repeatedly that control over their lives slipped from my grasp. The best job in the world—being a parent—becomes successful only when you’ve taught your kids to be successful without you. The best advice? Offer none unless asked because, let’s face it, they won’t listen until they are ready. Actions speak louder than words during early childhood, as those “little eyes and ears” of our children are keenly observing and listening for guidance and acceptance.

Then come the years when friends, schools, and doctors wield more influence. As parents, it becomes our responsibility to know what’s happening when we’re not present. Respecting privacy? Well, not when they’re living under your roof! I chuckle, recalling how I used to get furious with my mother for rifling through my notes or diary. But truth be told, I secretly reveled in the ability to blame my parents’ old-fashioned ways for gracefully sidestepping unwanted requests from so-called friends. So, I believed it was my duty, not the teachers’, to ensure my kids were educated and versed in the word of God.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

Much like our heavenly Father loves us, I loved my children, prepared to do anything for their well-being. But, as life goes, each one of us is responsible for our decisions, and no matter how hard we try, we can’t compel our children to follow our advice. Our role is to love them and offer guidance and support when they reach out and ask for it. 

To a new mother seeking advice, my suggestion, if she asks, would be to pray fervently, be involved in every aspect of their child’s life, and be prepared to let them try and fail. Failure isn’t a setback; it’s a step closer to success. The only true failure, in my book, is not trying or giving up. And for your sanity, trust in God to watch over your family. Personally, I frequently declare over my family, borrowing from the wisdom of the scripture: 

“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15)

Not only does that declaration bring me peace, but it is a reminder to keep my faith in check and remember that God hears our prayers. Keeping the faith from Proverbs 22:6 and declaring Joshua 24:15 is a daily practice and a reminder to let go and let God watch over our adult children. Not always easy because faith is not blind, and many times Christians are accused of not facing reality. Faith sees the world and the present reality clearly, and it can be frightening, but focusing on the promise of Jesus and believing God hears our prayers will make it bearable when we can’t make it better like we did when our children were little.

Reading the Bible App earlier this week, I found a devotion called Bible Basics and it resonated with the question for parents who ask how to keep faith when their child goes astray. It said,

“A believer looks forward. They look further ahead and trust in what God has promised.”

“What the present sets in contrast against the glory of the future, the two are hardly worth comparing.

Regret looks back.

Frustrations look around.

But faith looks forward.

In anticipation, In hope.

Faith fixes our gaze on God’s promises and moves us ahead.”

Stay in faith and keep your eyes on Jesus is the one piece of advice that I give my grown children, whether they want to hear it or not! (My exception to the rule of not offering advice).

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