“If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.” James 1:5 (The Message)
I was having a conversation with one of our children the other day and God gave me this analogy to use which I think works well in many situations, not just for kids. He has been teaching me a lot lately about preparing my children for adulthood/independence and I think the biggest lessons being taught are from God teaching me the right way to let go.
I love new beginnings, a change to evaluate where I am and to prepare for where I’m going. God gave me the image of a tool belt. We have three children, each in various stages of childhood, and so their tool belts all look different. Our younger child has a tool belt where we’ve supplied most of the tools. He is still in the stage where we are teaching him good habits, instilling in him our values and holding his hand as he walks down the path of life.
Our older two, while at both ends of high school, have tool belts that look different still. Our oldest has had the opportunity for the last four years to start building his own tool belt with his own actions, choices, decisions and values. Our middle child is at the beginning of her high school career and therefore, I used the analogy that she has an empty tool belt that she gets to start filling with her own tools.
Because she’s only in high school and not living independently yet, as her mom I am here to help guide what tools should go in the tool belt, go with her to the store to help pick out her tools for the tool belt and in some cases, insist that until certain tools have been placed in the tool belt she won’t be able to participate in any activities that require the tools, but the choice of whether or not the tools actually make it to the tool belt and then get used regularly is solely up to her. Her older brother has already experienced this aspect of the tool belt and now is just adding additional tools, becoming an expert in using the tools already in his possession and even, at times, sharing his tools with others who need them.
At the stage our older two are in, I can’t force them to use any of the tools that are in their tool belt. I can’t force them to place certain tools in their tool belt. However, I can restrict privileges and experiences until I see the tools in there and see the results of their regular use.
While my approach to parenting may seem extreme to some and a little too hands off to others, our ultimate goal is all the same: to grow healthy, independent adults who have the tools needed to build that relationship with the only One who can help them thrive in life.
Come back next time as I continue sharing from my heart the reason I feel so strongly about what tools belong in their tool belt.
© Cheri Swalwell 2017