Last night I was a part of the Baccalaureate program for graduating high school seniors. This is an attempt of our Ministerial Alliance to touch the heart of these students with some Christian thoughts before they head out into the world.
Last night, another pastor and I decided to both speak for 10-12 minutes on similar but different topics. I addressed the adults, and he spoke to the students. Today I would like to share what I said and hopefully, encourage a few more parents than just those who attended last night.
I focused my attention on the parable of the Prodigal son. It is found in Luke chapter 15, and I know it is not really a story about parenting. The primary emphasis of the story is about God and his love for his people. Personally, I do not think it is a massive violation of interpretation to take this story of God and see him as the ultimate parent portrayed in the story.
From God, we can learn three things about being a parent of graduating seniors.
1. Be Willing to Let Them Go. A man had two sons, and one wants his share of the estate. Unbelievably, the father grants his requests and gives him his share. Soon the son sets off to a distant land, and the father does not try to stop him. The parent in this story gives willingly without limitations or restrictions. I believe parents must be willing to let their children go out into the world without reservation. In an age of helicopter parents, this advice has never seemed more relevant.
2. Be Willing to Let Them Fail. This boy makes a mess of his life. He loses everything and ends up broke and hungry. The initial reaction can be something like, “His parents should never have let him go out on his own.” It was in this place of failure that the son learned a valuable lesson about life at home and the value of a dollar. His most significant mistake was also his highest point of learning.
3. Be Willing to Offer Unconditional Love. The boy messes up and heads for home ready to be a servant in his father’s house. Unexpectedly, the father runs to him and embraces him like a son. The mistakes are forgotten, and grace overflows into the situation. Just as God loves us unconditionally, so we ought to love our children.
Most parents have spent the last 18 years giving their children roots; now it is time to provide them with wings. Their success in life is based not just on how well we have done in the past but also how we handle this transition into the future.