If Only You Would Come See Me: Lessons from the Empty Nest

God willing most parents are able to spend 18 plus years raising their children.  For most of that time we have a say in where they will go, what they will wear, what they do, what they can’t do, what they eat, who they hang out with and on and on.

Then at some point from the age of 18 on they leave.  They start life on their own.  They are suddenly thrust into a world where they make all the decisions.  They are suddenly able to decide where they will go, what they will wear, what they do, what they won’t do, what they will eat, who they will hang out with, and on and on.

A transition occurs during this time that I don’t think most parents see coming.  Our relationship with our children, as they grow up, is self-centered in some ways.  We make decisions for them often based on our preferences, dreams and goals for them and our lives.  Now we might not admit this.  We might say that we are doing it for them, but the reality is we often do it for us.

You wear this because I picked it out.

You go with us because all the other parents kids are coming.  About us again.  A sign of people pleasing on our part.

You go with us where we want to go on vacation.

Your schedule is based on my work schedule.

Now in many ways we have to be like this.  Parents need to be the head of their homes, set standards, and consistently define boundaries.  We can’t let our children dictate how the family will run, or where we will go on vacation and so forth.  Yet we don’t realize how our relationship with our children was centered around us until they leave.

When they leave they start and develop their own lives.  At least I hope they do, and I hope you let them do that.  A shift should take place here.  Our relationship with them is no longer defined on our wishes and preferences.  It’s now about them.  Right?

This is an adult now.  We should get to know this adult as we would any other.  This means we should stop asking them to come be a part of our life, and instead go be a part of theirs.  You see mom and dad it’s not about you anymore.  Mom and dad should concentrate on their relationship, and becoming friends with their adult child.

The way I see this played out is when mothers expect grown children to continue to come over to their house all the time for dinners, or just to visit.  If the grown child doesn’t they are hurt.  In fact they do nothing to go see them.  So the parent complains that they never see their child.  I miss them, I wish they would come see me.

I am sorry parent, but those days are over.  We don’t wait at home any longer waiting for them to walk in the door after school.  They aren’t going to.  Your relationship has changed.  We now need to go figure out how to be a part of their life.  We now need to be completely others focused.

This mentality can permeate all of our relationships.  Well if you would come see me we would have a relationship.  Well she doesn’t come over so we aren’t close.  Yeah they stopped coming to our special dinners so I don’t know what’s going on.  There must be a problem because they never want to do what they did with me when they were little.

John 15:12-13 “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Ok Christian.  You are to love others as Jesus Christ loved you.  The greatest love is to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  This includes your adult children.  The relationship you have with them should be about them, and not you.  This means we don’t wait at home hoping they will visit, and then get upset when they don’t.  That is self-centered.

This means that we go be a part of their lives.  Sure we may we can long for them to come to our house, but we have no guarantee that will happen.  Before us is an adult that we had the privilege of raising, and now our job is to get to know this adult and see how we can be a part of their life.

This principle is Biblical and can apply to all of our relationships.  We are to be others focused.  We do not sit and wait for the world to come to us.  We must reach out to the world.  We must make the effort to get in peoples lives, and find ways to connect with them where they are.  This my friends includes our children.

Now go.  Be disciples of men.  Teaching them the way that they should go.  There are people in your lives that you may need to reach out to, and develop a relationship with.  This means you need to learn about who they are, and how you can fit in their life.

Jesus met you where you were, can you not meet them?

Marcy Pedersen

 

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