I have had the opportunity to talk to several mothers one on one lately and in each conversation there seemed to be a common thread. It had to do with feeling the weight of responsibility for their children. Whether it be in their child’s decisions, actions or even appearances. One mother worried about how her actions today would affect her young children in years to come, another mother worried that her children were gaining too much weight and how that would reflect on her parenting, and still another mother worried about the decisions that her adult son was making and how it would affect his future.
As each of these mothers shared with me, I could feel the burden they were carrying; it was heavy. I understand this burden well; I have carried it many times myself. Mothers of all ages and stages feel this burden no matter how old their children are. We feel responsible for how our children behave, how they respond to others, and how they perform in life. We take the full credit when they do good and even more so when they do poorly.
Mothers, my advice to you today… lay the burden down. It is not yours to carry. Oh yes, we need to “Train up a child in the way he should go” as it says in Proverbs 22:6. And “… do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” as in Ephesians 6:4. Absolutely, God has given us the responsibility of raising these specific children. He has put them under our charge and into our care. That is a great responsibility that we need to take very seriously. However, the RESULTS are not on our shoulders. The results are God’s alone.
God has a specific plan and path through life for your child to follow. Jeremiah 29:11, “ For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.” No one can change God’s plans or put their child on what we feel to be a more “appropriate” path to follow (or a more socially acceptable one). Remember God has already written out your child’s entire life for eternity and he knows what is truly best for your child. Plus, (brace yourself for this one)…God loves your child MORE than you do (see Romans 5:8 and 8:38-39). I remind my children of this often. Do you think that this would confuse them or worry them? No way, they know how much I love them and for them to know that the Almighty Creator loves them even more – how awesome! It is wonderful that they (and we) can rest in the assurance that God loves them and is in charge of their everyday life and their futures.
To assume that we are to take the credit when our children excel or the blame when our children experience a failure is putting ourselves in the place of God in their lives. That is not where we are supposed to be, he alone can be King. We can teach them to eat healthy and engage in physical activities with them, but God determines their body type and what he wants them to look like. We can set boundaries and provide godly discipline as they grow, but we are not responsible for every bad (or good) decision they make when they are grown.
I realize that it is no easy task to let go of this burden of how our children “turn out”. We cling to it like it is a part of who we are, but it’s not meant to be that way. So take a deep breath and release it to God. Take reassurance that God welcomes your burdens and instructs us to give them to him:
“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalms 55:22
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29
Keep your focus on raising your children to love Christ and his powerful Word. Guide them with godly discipline and train them up in the way they should go, but understand, their final destination and how they get there is up to God.