Give them sails, not anchors

Posted: July 21, 2008 in kids, musings

I’m not sure if it is because my oldest child is finishing highschool this year, or if it is because my youngest child is taller than me now, but I find myself thinking more and more about when my children leave the (I would say nest, but to keep with the whole metaphorical thing that I’ve got going on here, I will say) dock. I hope that I have given them the proper sails and have not weighed them down with all anchors.

I know there comes a time in our kids lives when we have to just push them away from the dock and hope and pray that we have properly equipped them with what they need to succeed in their lives. I dont’ think it is at a certain age necessarily, I think it is more of a certain place or arrival. I’m sure it comes at different times, but it always comes.

I think it is important to always keep in mind that we should be raising our kids to become independent from us, not reliant on us. I want my girls to become who God made them to be, not who I have made them to be. I don’t really want little clones of me or my DH, I want unique individuals who have developed their own beliefs, standards, and life goals. I would hope that the upbringing that they have had will influence who they become and that their beliefs will reflect what they have been taught, but I also know that it has to be “theirs”, not ours. If all they have is what “their parents believe” then they will eventually fall.

I think we get to the point where we have taught them to the best of our ability and then we just have to look to God to take over from there. I’m not saying that we have no more influence on our kids once they get to a certain age, I don’t mean that at all. I just mean that we should be working toward the goal of setting them out on their own, and not toward the goal of always having them look to us for answers.

There has to come a point where we say, “What do you think?” When it comes to music and movies and friends and places and books and all that sort of thing, if they are only doing or not doing certain things because we make them or because we won’t allow it, then one day that will fail and then what will they do. If the beliefs or standards are not theirs but only ours that we have forced upon them, then one day they will dissipate and they will not know what to do.  It is important to make sure the foundation is built on strong principles that they understand and know why they are there.

Again, I know someone out there is thinking, “What in the world is she saying, that we aren’t supposed to set up guidelines for our kids, that we are to let them make their own decisions”. That is not what I’m saying at all. I once heard the saying, “One day you will have your own standards, but until then you can use mine.” That is pretty much what I am trying to say.

Our goal has to be to give our kids “sails” not “anchors”. We have to equip them with what it takes to survive in this strange, often times wicked society and world we live in. They have to be strong in their own right, all by themselves, without the influence of their parents. There will come a time when we won’t be there and the decisions they make can affect their lives forever. I hope I always keep eternity and even before that in mind when I am training my kids and trying my hardest to make sure their “sails” are big and strong and able to withstand the many storms that they will encounter. 

Once they reach a certain point, I think we also have to be the ones to provide the “wind” that enables to sails to do what they are supposed to do.  Maybe small steady breezes at first and then stronger gusts until they are out on their own living the “abundant life” that God intends. (Thanks Meg, for the analogy)

  1. You said, “I think we get to the point where we have taught them to the best of our ability and then we just have to look to God to take over from there.”

    This is so true. And should one of them make decisions that are mistakes (which is happening with one of our older kids right now), we have to remember that God loves them even more than we do, and He can reach them when we can’t.

    Don’t mean to be depressing—just sharing some lessons I’ve been re-learning lately :0

  2. Renae says:

    So many good points! We are still in the “use my standards” stage, but I try to help my children understand why we make the choices we do. I don’t like to think about my children leaving the dock, but it will happen. And yes, we have to trust God with them even now. I cannot change my children’s hearts. That is the work of the Holy Spirit.

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