I grew up in San Diego, not far from those famous white sandy beaches. My friends and I, we’d head for the sun and surf whenever we were able.
One spot that attracted the more daring is comprised of a set of cliffs which jet out over the Pacific. Adventure seekers would congregate atop the cliffs and take turns jumping some 30 feet into the ocean.
I was never interested, that is until my sister and I found ourselves there one sunny afternoon.
We were headed to the beach with some friends when they announced that they wanted to jump off the cliffs first. We were a little annoyed by the delay, but agreed to the detour.
After watching the cliff-jumpers for about 20 minutes my sister and I turned and looked at one another. We both had huge grins on our faces.
I said, “Looks fun!”
My sister agreed and before I knew it, we’d spent the better part of the afternoon jumping off the cliffs.
Sometimes I forget how fearless I once was, how inclined I was to embrace the adventures life presented. I forget because, as a parent, I have an entirely different perspective when our girls go jumping off cliffs or take flight in some other courageous, impulsive way.
Here’s what I’ve learned, what I hope will encourage you: pushing limits and testing boundaries – these are an important, even healthy part of our kids’ developmental process.
Part of my developmental process, in transitioning from mothering children to becoming the parent of young adults, is learning to hope with them, to embrace the thrill of possibility, and to engage in the wonder of “wouldn’t it be great” without all the anxious “what if you poke an eye out” worries.
Although I was once their primary teacher and question-answerer, I am learning to listen to our girls more and talk less because, as Jim Burns says in his book Understanding Your Teen, listening is the language of love and I want our girls to know they are deeply and dearly loved.
But I do have things I want to say. Sometimes I have legitimate concerns and occasionally I even have what I think is sage advice.
So what’s a mom to do when her daughter’s dream takes her to the other side of the world?
Or when she wants to drive a dangerous road in order to attend her friend’s celebration?
Or when she wants to share a rental home with a teammate, in the middle of a pandemic, so she can continue her trajectory toward independence?
Usually I pray. I pray for the right timing and the right words to reach their hearts. And if the opportunity to speak never presents itself?
Well, it seems that part of my Heavenly Father’s molding and shaping of me are these moments when I am faced with whether or not I will trust Him. Will I trust Him with the wonderful, scary thing happening in our young adult child’s life?
Many times I have chosen to trust Him with breath held tight and one eye squeezed shut. And yet, despite my imperfect yes to His question of will I trust Him, He has repeatedly proved Himself trustworthy – which is not to say everything turns out the way I think it should, but I do see His hand in the mix, His fingerprints on certain details.
These days I find that I am talking more frequently and more fervently to God because there is so little I have control over. But I am confident that He who began a good work in our girls – in your children, He is faithful to see it through to completion.
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.Psalm 28:7