Good grief! I'm such a cry baby today!
It has been an incredibly stressful week and my emotions are as soft and squishy as my middle. I've already shed a few tears this morning... thanks to a beautiful post by my good friend Lesa over at Notes About Music Notes. And then I remembered I had a letter in my car that my daughter left on the rocking chair by my purse this morning. Here is part of that letter.
She's finally getting to that age where she is getting it... why I do and say what I do. She's beginning to understand that when I tell her I won't help her with something, it isn't because I don't WANT to help her, it's because she NEEDS to figure it out by herself. I always have to say, "I'm not doing this for you because soon you are going to be at college and I'm going to be 14 hours away and I won't be able to do it for you then either. So you need to figure it out now, in case you really DO need my help. You do as much as you can first... and THEN come ask me for help." I'm not being the wicked witch of the west, I just want her to learn how to be independent and to trust her own judgment and be confidant in her own abilities. I want her to explore her talents and abilities without me telling her what she should be or how she should do it.
I adopted this plan of parenting a very long time ago. I feel like this is the kind of parent our Heavenly Father is. And I want to be like Him. I know for a fact that He hears and answers our prayers... but He doesn't just give us everything we want. We are expected to learn, study, grow, and make our own decisions. After we've done the work... done everything within our own power to accomplish what it is we need, THEN we ask Him if it is the right thing for us or not. THEN we petition Him for divine help in the matter. How would we ever grow if He always jumped right in and solved all of our problems for us? The answer is... we wouldn't. We would be helpless and dependent and always waiting for the next handout. We would never strive to be someone better or stronger than we are. That doesn't mean we shouldn't ask for strength or guidance... it just means... for example... don't ask Him to help you win the lottery because you spent more money than you bring in and now the tax bill shows up and you can't pay it. You work out a plan to try to figure out how to raise the funds to pay the tax bill and THEN go to Him with your plan and ask Him if it is the right direction for you to go or not. Ask for strength, comfort, and guidance - all along the way - as you proceed with a plan to get out of debt.
So... back to my daughter. Does wanting her to be independent mean that after she goes off to college, I'm going to say, "See you later! Have a nice life! Good luck to you! Hope it all works out for you!"... NO. WAY. It means, "I love you enough to help you be who you are meant to be and when you need my advice or a shoulder to cry on, I'm just a phone call away. You can come home and visit any time you want because you are part of our family and I love you more than you will ever know. I want you to spread your wings and live a fulfilling life and be happy. Because that will make ME happy. I will watch over you and protect you the rest of my days, but I can't do everything for you. You have to learn to do that for yourself. Because, one day, you will be a mother and you will need to be strong enough to be the kind of mother your children will need. You will need to be strong enough to say, 'I can't do that for you. You do as MUCH as you can, and THEN come and ask me for help and I will help you.'
It's not always easy to be a parent. It's even harder to be a GOOD parent. It's not for sissies, that's for sure. But I see many, many good parents working and giving their all to raise good kids who will grow up to be good adults. They will be the leaders of our nations. They will be the champions for good. But they will only be as good as we give them the vision and strength to be.