Independent Dependents

I love this mom’s perspective on allowing her kids to grow up and launch toward adulthood. It’s a joy and a struggle and Lisa Tyson describes it so well.

Independent Dependents

I remember the moment like it was yesterday.

I was standing on the porch of my house holding my five-day-old son. My husband was back at work, and my mother was leaving.

She was leaving.

Like . . . going home.

I looked at her with tears in my eyes and begged her to stay. She could not just leave me here with him. I did not know what to do with him.

He was so tiny. He needed me for everything. He was completely dependent on me. When the panic wore off, I went back inside and started the journey of being Clay’s mom.

Two years later, I had the same feeling when she left me with another new baby boy and a toddler. Those boys are now nineteen and twenty-one.

Learning and growing in responsibility

They do not need me for everything anymore. In fact, they honestly do not really need me for much at all. They live their lives in complete independence. They drive their cars (that we pay for). They attend their college (that we pay for). They go to the doctor when they get sick (on our insurance).

You get the picture. They are completely independent—except they aren’t.

Our deal with them while they are in college is that we pay for academic, automotive, medical/dental, and basic living expenses. They are responsible for their “fun,” their legal expenses (all tickets are on them), and anything above and beyond what constitutes “basic” living.

They have a food/living allowance. When it’s gone, it’s gone. They can decide if they want to go to the grocery store and buy groceries to allow them to eat well for the month. Or, they can order pizza and eat fast food and then eat peanut butter and jelly and Ramen until they get their allowance again.

They have learned quite a bit about life. They also have a lot to learn. They are not ready to be set completely free in the world.

But they think they are—they want to be completely independent. As long as we fund them along their journey.

You can control a lot with an allowance for a college student. Money is really the only language they speak sometimes. One of our boys frivolously spent all the money he’d saved to last him his entire freshman year by Thanksgiving.

Our response: “I’m so sorry. You will have to use your twenty-five dollars a week wisely.” (Yes. We are those parents who did not make his irresponsibility comfortable for him.)

Mom guilt and twisted Scripture

Do you know what you cannot control with money?

Their spiritual growth and development.

We take our children to church. We read them Bible stories. We sing Jesus songs. We pray with, and for, them. We rejoice in their salvation. We allow them to go to camp, and on mission trips, and to Disciple Now weekends.

We do all sorts of things as they grow up in our homes. Then we believe that when they leave they will continue to do “all the things” on their own.

Sometimes they do. But, sometimes they don’t.

My sons are amazing people. They are kind, respectful, hardworking, and loyal. They are wonderful friends. They have goals they are pursuing and dreams they are working hard to achieve.

But their spiritual growth—well . . . let’s just say that when left to their own devices, it hasn’t been a top priority. Oh, how this momma has beaten herself up about it! The Enemy has taken me through all of the “if you had just ______ more,” they would be young adults who are active and vibrant in their faith.

The Enemy twisted Scripture and told me that if I had done a better job “training them up in the way that they should go,” then, “when they were independent and on their own, they would have not departed from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

Satan can take the mom guilt to a whole new dimension by twisting Scripture and attacking your spiritual fitness as a mother.

My job vs. God’s job

But God.

Those are two of my favorite words.

One day I was praying through something concerning my oldest, and God spoke to me as clearly as if he’d sat down for a cup of iced tea on the porch.

He told me, “Lisa. You are taking on responsibility that does not belong to you. Your job is the first part—to ‘train them up.’ The next part, ‘When they are old they will not depart from it,’ is my job.”

He reminded me that he, not their mother, is the One who sets eternity in the hearts of man (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

He told me “You did your job. Now let me do mine.”

It was a precious conversation with my Savior.

And, oh, the weight that was taken off of me! What an anxious mess I became trying to take on responsibility that was not mine in the first place.

I trained them up. I did what I was supposed to do as their mother. Now, my children’s relationship with the Lord is just that—their relationship with the Lord. They have to develop a faith that belongs to them. They have to establish their own independent dependence on Jesus.

Meanwhile, I will never, ever, stop praying for my children no matter how old they are. So, I pray that they allow Jesus to do what only Jesus can do as he makes all things beautiful in his time and sets eternity in the hearts of my men.

This article first appeared here.

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Lisa Tyson

My name is Lisa Tyson. I am a Baylor graduate, have been married to the only man I have ever loved for the past 24 years, and we have 3 perfectly imperfect children — 20 (rising Jr. at Texas Tech), 17 (rising Senior), and 12 (rising 7th grader). Our oldest two are boys and the youngest is a sweet and spicy girl. I run my own practice as an Educational Diagnostician working with school districts to identify and serve their bilingual students while my husband works in the Operations Department for our church. I speak Spanish fluency and I love to read and scrapbook. One of my many life verses is, “She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future” (Proverbs 31:25). I am far from an Insta-mazing wife and mom — we eat the same leftovers over and over, I forget every picture day, and I had to buy my middle child new socks and underwear when I packed all of his and sent them to college with his brother (in an effort to not forget anything). But one thing I do well is this: I remember that the Lord has lavished us with His grace and nothing that touches our family is by accident. So we press on and push through knowing that He has always been faithful — no matter what.

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