I had a hard time coming up with a title for this article today, I was torn between, “When the Children Grow Up” and “What does Family Commitment Mean”. The purpose of this article is to help give a biblical guide as to family, children, and what it means when the children grow up and want to strike out on their own. One question I have had as a Pastor is, “Pastor, what do I do when my children want to move out on their own, and begin starting their own lives?” My first answer is always, “Praise God, you did your job as a Parent, and the little birds want to fly on their own.” Many times, this is met with some tears from Mom, and laughter from Dad. Then always, the next questions are “Well Pastor, we are getting older now, and our children aren’t going to be as available to help us as they once were, what do we do now? What about their family commitment to us as their parents? Shouldn’t they be available for us as their parents to care for us, and even move where we move to help us? These questions will be the basis for my article today.
As we age, we realize that we are mortal, and there will be an end to our life. This is a natural process, and one that all of us will have to face at sometime or another in our lives. As we age, we begin wondering, what if we can’t take care of ourselves who will take care of us? This is a complicated question, but one that should be addressed prior to the need. I advise people to plan for the future, with a focus on today. Meaning, you should start making plans right now to care for yourselves in the event that you will need help in the future. There are many different aspects that you can look at such as, assisted living insurance, your retirement savings, etc… and there are many professionals that are available to help you in your decision making process. You are the Parents, and you shouldn’t rely solely on your children to take care of you, they do have their own lives, and have their own responsibilities, and just because you are the parents doesn’t mean they are obligated to care for you. Their only obligation to you is to Honor you as their Parents.
What does it mean to Honor your parents? Let’s look at the Ten Commandments and get a biblical answer on this. The Fifth commandment says: “Honor your Father and Mother so that you may live long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12) Honor means is to have a high regard for, not that you agree or believe everything that they say or tell you to do as an adult. As a child under the age of majority, age 18, the children are under an obligation to obey their parents as we see in the Word of God Ephesians 6:1, “Children obey your parents as this is the right thing to do.” However, once our children reach the age of adulthood, over 18 years of age, they should still honor their parents as the ones that raised them and cared for them, but now is the time that they should begin making their own decisions about their own life, making their own mistakes and learning the lessons of life from them. We as parents should allow them to start their new lives as grown adults, and we as parents shouldn’t demand that they stay in the nest just because we might need or want them to. At this point our children become our Brothers and Sisters in Christ, not people whom we can control for their entire lives, just because we gave birth to them. For parents that believe that even as their children grow up they are still somehow obligated to go move where the parents move, and carry on the household chores as grown adults has a Master mentality toward their children and should seriously reconsider their point of view. What do I mean they have a Master Mentality toward their children? They believe that their children should be their slaves as long as they are alive on this earth, and should go where they go, and do as they say do even after they have grown up and moved away from home. This is a Master/Slave relationship, not a proper adult relationship that we should having with our adult children.
In conclusion, let me say that as parents we are to train up our children in the Ways of God so that when they are old they will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6). We are not to make slaves out of our children, nor are we to expect them to do as we do, and do only as we say. They have lives of their own that they are to fulfill, and Godly destinies they need to reach. Learn to respect your grown children as adult brothers and sisters in the Lord, and you will reap the rewards of having your children and their children around for a lifetime. Point to remember: Slaves run away, brothers and sisters run toward you!