I am at a wonderful stage of life. My children are all adults, two are married and our first grandbaby is on the way! One of our sons is a full time college student and lives at home with us to save money. I like to think I have good relationships with all my kids, and admittedly I am closer to some than others due to geography and interests we share.
Recently, my youngest son and I have been banging heads over a variety of spiritual issues. While he is a believer, it is clear that on some matters of faith we do not agree. This is distressing for both of us. I want to be sure his faith is not being shipwrecked by what he is learning in college, and he wants me to give him the freedom to be himself, to think for himself, and to draw his own conclusions on matters of his faith.
After our most recent trip around the mulberry bush I decided that somewhere along the way I forgot that lesson. What’s the matter with me? I have parented other children and accepted their walk of faith as their own, even if for a time it was polar opposite of where I wanted them to be! What is the reason I am struggling so hard with this last child of mine? Because he is my “last” and I want to finish well.
Therein lies my error; his faith and journey with Christ is not about me, it is about him and Him.
I have always believed (and teach) that our children have to decide what theological truths they will embrace. Will they believe in a literal 7-day creation and young earth, or will they believe in theistic evolution (evolutionary creation)? Will they stick with the tradition they were raised in (Baptist, Reformed, Lutheran) or will they wander over to another camp? Will they choose to believe sign gifts ceased or continue today? Most parents don’t like to watch this process. Our great desire is they will just accept what we have taught them and never question. Let’s face it, we are terrified they will walk away from God and become total apostates.
It is important to understand your beliefs may not end up being their beliefs.
Faith is personal and as parents we have to accept that while our faith guides and directs our children when they are young, there comes a time when that is not enough. They have to wrestle with their own thoughts about spiritual matters and form their own conclusions. Then they have to grab their faith and embrace it, their faith has to become their own.
I don’t like to watch my kids struggle with doubt, reason, and faith. I wish they would all have simply accepted our words and beliefs and never questioned. Some of their spiritual wanderings brought them hardships from which I would have wanted them to be spared. The journey has occasionally led to very dark and lonely places for my sons. However, looking back I can see the very trials and questions of faith taught them to trust Him more.