Be Careful What You Wish For

I believe I’ve shared in the past that the problem with trying to raise children into strong, confident, independent adults is that they become just that! For example, I’ve heard it said that if your grown children are willing to move far away from you, then you’ve done something right in raising them. My kids have demonstrated this willingness, and I’m not sure how I feel about it.
My 19-year-old son is finishing up his second year at a university in Arizona, 1,400 miles away from me and his mom and his sisters. But he practiced leaving us before he ever left for college. He spent a week in Anaheim as part of his team in the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). He also left us to play in weekend basketball tournaments in Seattle and Portland, not to mention the weeks he spent in Las Vegas and Anaheim for more basketball tournaments. Right now, it’s not enough for him to live in Phoenix; he’s actually heading to Los Angeles next weekend to play in yet another basketball tournament at UCLA.
Then there’s my older daughter. Thanks to the generosity of our church and our friends and family members, she has raised $2,500 for the mission trip she’s taking to the Dominican Republic in just a few weeks. She has also let us know, in no uncertain terms, that she will not be staying close to home when she goes to college. Even our younger daughter (formerly known as our baby) is getting in on the act. She will leave this month for a trip to Portland with her youth group, and she will head out again next month for a trip to Seattle with her 7th grade class at school. What in the world? Just because my wife and I want our kids to become strong, independent adults, does that mean they have to prepare so much? Must they practice leaving us, seemingly whenever they get the chance?
I know the answer to these questions, I just don’t want to admit it. God has spoken on this matter: “Train up a child in the way he should go / Even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Of course, these words address our need to raise children the right way, but they also highlight the fact that training is involved in bringing up our kids. What we do over and over as parents, and what our kids do over and over as they grow up, comes to be the “curriculum” for this training. My kids are practicing, again and again, to leave their parents who love them so much.
What I really don’t like to admit is that having kids who are willing to move far away actually makes me happy for them and proud of them, despite the fact that I miss them terribly each day they are gone. If I’m being honest, I would much rather have things this way than to have them live close by simply because they lacked the courage to move elsewhere. And my heart would ache constantly if they became so homesick that they were miserable wherever they lived. The truth is that I want things to be the way they are, I just don’t like it sometimes.
Troy Burns