In the Know – Be Willing to Let Them Make Mistakes

Thanks you so much for joining me again for this series on building a bridge to your child’s heart. I appreciate the encouraging emails I’ve received from many of you sharing how our talks have been helfpul!

Today’s post is the sixth in our series together. It is preceded by:

1. Being Informed

2. Being Approachable

3. Being Available

4. Being Vulnerable

5. Being their Discipler

If you have not yet requested he article in it’s entirety free of charge, just email me at [email protected]. I’ll be happy to forward it to you!

For me, this last brick in building a bridge to our child’s heart is the hardest! When it comes to our kids, we desperately want them to learn from our mistakes and not make their own. In fact, it’s a daily prayer.

Yet, if we look back on our own lives, when did we learn our most powerful lessons? What situation were we in when we saw how desperately we needed a savior? What eleventh hour was it when we found Jesus to be our healer? It would seem that sometimes the only way to learn is by making a few mistakes.

Often, these mistakes increase as our children prepare to leave home. Independence is their mantra as they make one decision after another.

This process reminds me of a baby eaglet as it prepares to leave the nest. The internet gave me insight into the way of the little bird:

“Once most of their wing and tail feathers are developed, the eaglets can finally leave the nest. First flights usually occur at 9 or 10 weeks of age and are preceded by vigorous exercising and flapping. When a male and female are in the same nest, the male may fledge first. The chick will typically lift off of the nest by facing into the prevailing winds and flapping. Sometimes the adults will force the eaglets to fly. Often the first flight will be to the nearest branch above the nest. When chicks leave the nest they usually glide to a nearby tree or stump, returning to the nest tree frequently and continuing to be fed by the adults. At first the eaglets have difficulty landing on tree limbs. However, if they land on the ground, they need open space to flap their wings to become airborne. While eaglets improve their landing and flying skills, they depend on their parents for food. The adults will bring food to where the eaglets are perched. Eaglets will stay close to the nest and nest tree during the first few weeks after fledging. Within one month after fledging, eaglets will soar and drift over the river.”

How do we respond when our child makes a mistake? Do we run to their rescue each time or do we give them the opportunity to mature and let him figure it out? In your home, are you allowing situations and opportunities in your child’s life that will allow her to test drive her wings?  Will she have to wait will to fly until she finally leaves home? Our children need opportunities where they can make their own decisions and either reap the positive benefits or the negative consequences from that decision .

Zach, my oldest at 17 asked me to see a certain movie. “What’s the movie?” was the logical question. As soon as the title escaped his lips, “no” rushed out of mine. I had already seen the preview for that particular movie and knew it was not a movie I wanted him to see. Irritation showed all over his body as he responded to my answer, but an “ok” came from his mouth as he left the room. When my husband got home, I informed him that Zach had asked me if he could go to the movie and I told him no. Greg asked Zach to come downstairs. I wondered what was about to take place.

After Zach sat down, Greg said with tears in his eyes, “Zach, I appreciate that you asked your mom about going to the movie. You could have gone and lied about where you were going. You could have said you were going to a movie other than the one you told us about. Instead, you came and asked for permission. Because you were honest, I am going to allow you to make the decision on what is best for you.”

This was not what I wanted to happen. I didn’t want my son to have that type of control.

The truth is, my son already had that control. He already had the means to make his own decisions; it was time for me to acknowledge that.

We’re in a new stage of life now that Zach is a freshman in college. We are learning to allow him to make decisions and then either benefit from the right decision or pay the consequences from the wrong. This is far from easy!

In this season often our children do not want our advice. It is time for them to move on and begin making major decisions on their own. What we need to get out of the way and let God finish His work. If we can recognize this process as it is happening it will be easier not fight it . Through this we can allow  our children to “leave the nest” naturally.  For us, this season has been very difficult, but the thing I keep hearing Jesus whispering in my ear is this: “You wrote your story with me, now it is time for Zach to write his.”

Jesus, what we want most of all is for our children to love you with all they have; to be passionate about You. This is something I can not force or do for him. I know that you will protect him and draw him near as You promised You would. I trust You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen


One Comment

  1. As my third and youngest child prepares to graduate from high school and go to college I can truly relate to this post! It is so hard for parents to let our children leave the nest, but it is what God wants them to do and it is our job to help them when we can.

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