Parenting Transitions (Part 4)

This is the fourth and final installment of the series of articles I wrote a few years ago.  This one was originally posted on August 28, 2011.  I think there is some wisdom here worth sharing again.  Enjoy!

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I heard a great song on iTunes on the way to work one day this week – Wayne Watson’s, The Class of ’95.  It’s another tear-jerker, no doubt.  The guy wrote some powerful songs that elicit strong emotions, especially for parents, with songs like Watercolor Ponies, Somewhere in the World, and this one.  It made me think once again about the complex process of letting our children go.  Although Linda and I are 2/3 of the way through, we are still trying to figure out what works, what doesn’t, and how we can best meet our youngest son’s needs as a young adult and the needs of our older son and his sister (plus their spouses) as newly married couples.

I actually heard Wayne perform this song at a 1995 Promise Keepers Conference.  (Not sure where it was, though; I went to three PK conferences that year – Houston, Denver, and Dallas.)  I remember thinking that Melissa was only ten at the time, and was eight years away from her own high school graduation.  How far off it seemed then, and how quickly it became my turn!

Because the title of the song is tied to what I presume to be his son or daughter’s high school graduation, and since it was more than a few years ago, it probably never got the annual radio station airtime that it deserves.  I think the message is timeless.  Here’s the chorus to this song that many of my fellow middle-aged parents of teens and young adults should be able to relate to:

To the Class of ’95

Congratulations are in line

God has surely been most faithful

He’s been so much more than kind

So get ready to test your wings

And fly away but when you do

Remember you are loved

And somebody here is always praying for you

The universal fear (or dread) of parents as their children approach that high school graduation day is the knowledge that their offspring will inevitably test those wings and fly away, when they are truly ready.   We hope that as they do, they will remain close to us and will always remember that they can come home whenever they need to.

For a Christian parent, however, prayer is always going to be an important element in this letting go process.  I tell all of my kids almost every time I talk with them on our weekly phone call that I pray for them every day, and I really do.  I know Linda does, also.  It brings great comfort to believe that God actively cares for them, just as much, if not more, than when they were home under our roof.

The second verse is worth mentioning here as well, as it shares a deep truth that those who haven’t yet experienced it cannot totally grasp:

So this is what I bargained for

Hushed hello and a rushed goodbye

Old folks said I’d be amazed at how

Quickly the time would fly

Even so, I’m thankful that my God saw fit to lend

This child into my unworthy hands

Who’s less a child now and more a friend

I’m tearing up, reading these lines now.  Like the songwriter, I too am thankful that God lent Linda and I, for a season, our three precious children into our unworthy hands.  And when I say the word “child”, I too truly understand and accept the fact that they are no longer children in the normal sense of the word, but are fellow adults just like us.  And I am truly amazed to see our adult relationships, yes, even friendships, grow with each one of them as time goes on.

So, how have we been showing love to these dearest of friends lately?  Well, we’ve welcomed both of our married children and their wonderful spouses home for a few days, on separate occasions, this summer.  They came when they could, and stayed as long as they liked.  It was great to see them.  We were impressed with how well they treated each other as new Christian families; separate and distinct, yet connected to and rooted from our own.  We bought a new bed for the newlywed couple, after the son cleaned up his old room during his visit, so that he and his bride and his sister and husband can have their own beds to sleep in if they all happen to come home for the holidays at the same time.

A month ago, we brought our youngest son back for his third year of college, a few weeks early like he wanted, to help him get settled into his off-campus home.  We even made another trip this weekend to bring some stuff he left behind.

The past two weeks, we comforted one after a serious fender-bender, and grieved with them at the total loss of their car.  Most recently, we have rejoiced with recent college and grad school degree recipients who have just started jobs in their chosen fields that they are passionate about.

So, for my children, I echo Wayne Watson’s heart-felt words for his own precious gift.  Remember you are loved, and somebody here is always praying for you.

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