I was recently asked to read a stack of essays for an annual college scholarship. The essays were short biographies of the students, their involvement in their communities, and their goals for the future. Most of the essays were amazing, in fact I was surprised by the accomplishments of the students, the extra curricular activities they were involved with, and the goals they had set out for themselves. Some wanted to be doctors, others lawyers, architects, and scientists. I felt that our future looked bright knowing that these were our future leaders.

The only problem was some of the essays had been written by the parents. Some of the essays discussed parents involvement with their kids, what they saw their kids accomplishing, and the type of career they wanted for the them. How do I know? Because, when asked the kids could not express the same type of sentiment nor express such eloquence in presenting their future plans

I was reminded of the type of love new parents have for their kids. Like most parents, they have this inherent need to protect them. It starts from a young age with wanting to make sure our kids aren’t hurt. The way they hold their new borns is as though the baby is as fragile as an egg. I remember one of my friends did this, in fact she often gave us such a mean look when we carried her first born that we would hesitate to even hold her.

Eventually she had a second baby and it was like night and day. As the second born cried she continued cooking. When I picked her up immediately after hearing her cry she insisted that I should let her cry.

“After all, it’s good for her.” She replied “She can’t get everything she wants.”

I couldn’t believe it was the same parent! Later she would let her kids run around even if we knew they might fall, sometimes she offered to help them up and other times she kissed their wounds. She always focused on what she thought was best for both of them, whether it was the confidence to ride a bike even if it came with a few falls and bruises, or to solve a math problem.

As I was reading the essays I realized these parents also wanted what was best for their kids, to go to the best university, have the best career, and get the best job. Unfortunately, they were doing more harm than they realized.

Not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 1 Peter 5:3

Being an example means leading by teaching. While I realized the parents of these teens had good intentions, writing their essays meant they were not leading by example but rather did not trust them enough to let them write about their goals and desires. It also meant that they were not fully accepting the children they had raised.

College has become more and come competitive over the years, but it is still a learning institution. It’s a place where students learn from their mistakes, where they take various courses sometimes not knowing which career path they will follow. Much like my friend with the second child, I wanted the parents of these kids to let them go. Let them cry, fall, or even miss out on the scholarship knowing that is was a learning experience for both the parent and student.

For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him. Genesis 18:19

God teaches us that is we raise our kids his way they will not falter. That if we teach them his word they will abide by him. As parents this is the most important aspect of being a parent, to be there to guide our children when they need us.

We want to know:

How do you teach your children to live a Christian life?

How do you allow your children to learn without being overbearing?