"Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth." — Psalm 127:4
There comes a point in every parent and child's life that children have to fly the nest and live lives of their own outside the boundaries and safety of the parents' home. It can be a challenge not just for the child but for the parents as well.
When I was preparing to leave my dad's household to move out and have my own place, I remember how many times my dad would try to talk me out of it. It can be tough. I've got one four-year-old daughter today and I can't even begin to imagine looking forward to the day she would live on her own as well.
The Bible likens parents to warriors preparing arrows. The one purpose of arrows is to let them fly. An arrow that remains in the quiver forever loses its purpose and calling. Just like warriors we are to prepare to let loose our children to fly into their own purpose and calling. But until that day comes, we are to prepare them for that day.
Here are five areas we can prepare them in.
As children grow up, parents are to train them to shift their dependence from us to God—not just on themselves, society, or friends, but primarily and firstly to God. As finite beings we will always have a level of dependence, and that dependence was meant always to be directed to the source who is Jesus Himself.
With dependency comes a tendency to rely on the decisions of others. Parenting doesn't just involve making the right decisions but also preparing your children to make the right ones. As we teach our kids to rely more on God, we should also teach them to look to God's instructions and leading.
One of the greatest challenges of life is taking care of the resources that are entrusted to us. Today, many parents might choose to outsource the teaching of these principles to schools, youth pastors and children's church. But the responsibility is always on us to teach them first through our example and instruction.
4. Purpose and Direction
When an arrow has a target, it's much more likely to fly the right way and the right direction. In the same way we are to help our children find their purpose and calling. Note that their purpose is not what we want it to be but what God has called for them to follow.
Early on, we parents are responsible for setting boundaries for our kids. Until we teach them to set their own boundaries and to value boundaries generally, they will only end up crossing beyond them when we are no longer there to enforce them. What's important is that we teach our children to understand why rules and boundaries are important and how they exist for our own good.