My children rarely ask for my advice, and I don’t give it anymore unless they ask. It’s been hard for me to stop offering unsolicited opinions, but I finally realized they’re not needed. My son and daughter are fully capable adults, managing their own lives very well without my input. As a result of withholding my opinions, there’s less interpersonal friction among us, a pleasant side benefit.
Lately, it’s been my turn to ask their opinions. I value what they have to say because they’re more in touch with what’s going on in the world, have logical reasons for their answers and can give me advice on any number of subjects, especially technology. They don’t seem to mind giving me advice; in fact, I think they like doing it.
That’s not to say I don’t try to keep up with change, because I believe that’s my responsibility. Still, the pace of change is so fast, I feel like I’m always running to catch up! Does it seem that way to you, too, or is that my age talking?
Looking forward, it’s possible I may get to the point where a decision has to be made about my future. I’ve done what I can to prepare for it, but sometimes life takes unexpected turns. If it becomes necessary for them to make decisions for me, I can trust them to do the right thing. They have good hearts and a solid foundation in Christ. And I honestly don’t worry about what might happen to me, because my children are good friends as well as being my brother and sister in Christ.
There is one way I can still be helpful, though, and that’s when we’re discussing Christian living. Then they are open to hearing what I have to say. They understand spiritual formation is a life-long process. Only because I’ve lived longer and had more years of growing in God do I possess wisdom that comes from experience. Sharing that knowledge with my children is perhaps the most valuable thing I can give them. Of course, I learn from them, too.
Philippians 1:21-26* confirms the value of adding to my children’s faith and maturity in Christ. Yes, it will be wonderful to experience the fullness of Christ’s presence death brings. But I’d rather remain and pass on what they need to know, in ways they can understand and apply to their own lives. If that sounds like a parent talking, then I admit it. I’m still their mother and always will be.
*For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor, yet what I shall choose, I cannot tell (do not know). For (but) I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again” (Phil. 1:21-26, NKJ).
~ Ellen Cardwell