Summary: #4 in a six week series on marriage and parenting. This message discusses the difficult task of releasing your child.
"THE DOORS: RELEASING YOUR CHILD"
Home Improvement - Week 4
1 SAM. 1:10-11, 24-27, Luke 15:11-13
You know, of all the areas that we have talked about in this child rearing portion of our home improvement series, certainly for me and I think for all of us as parents.. releasing your child may be the most difficult. Oh, certainly disciplining and blessing your child is challenging, but there are not too many things that can leave more emptiness or create more apprehension than releasing your child from your care.
Fortunately, God has once again given us practical instruction for how we can release our children in a way that will benefit both the parent and the child. There are at least two examples of parents in Scripture who were able to release their children. Hannah, the mother of Samuel and the father in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son. In 1 Sam 1 we find Hannah praying for years that God would grant her a child. She promised if she had a son, that she would dedicate that child completely to God’s service. V:10-11- "Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. And she made this vow, ‘O Lord Almighty, if you will look down upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime.’" God answered that prayer and Hannah bears a son. Hannah loves Samuel but from birth she prepared him to be used of God. Scripture tells us: "When the child was weaned, Hannah took him to the Tabernacle in Shiloh. ‘I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.’”
(1 Sam. 1:24 & 28 NLT) She gave his care over to Eli, God’s servant there. Now, she continued to care for him. 1 Sam.2:19 tells us that often Hannah would go see Samuel, bringing him clothes. But, as parents, we need to emulate Hannah, understanding that although we don’t have to leave our children with the preacher. (please...) We do need to begin preparing our child from birth to be used of God.
Then in Lk 15, we find the story of the prodigal son. Vss:11-13- "Then Jesus said, “A man had two sons. The younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the property.’ So the father let him go, dividing up his property..”(GW) Jesus primarily told this story to point out how the heavenly Father loves and handles repentant sinners. But it also demonstrates what a father did when his son, who was of age and wanted to leave home. He let him go, even though it hurt and wasn’t best.. When it comes time to release your child. Not only must we emulate Hannah and prepare them to be used by God but we also must imitate the Father of this story by preparing to release our child no matter how heart wrenching that might be. After all, our children were born to eventually live on their own, honoring both God who created them and the parents who raised them.
So, I want to suggest 4 things that we need to do to help us as parents in this difficult task. My prayer this morning is that these four principles will equip you to move your children toward independence in a way that glorifies God.
I. BEGIN RELEASING YOUR CHILD FROM BIRTH:
First, we must recognize that we are to begin releasing our children from birth. That’s certainly what Hannah did. We actually have that goal from the very start. As James Dobson says, "Our goal as parents is to teach our children to live without us." That may sound abrupt to the parents of small children but it is true. Our goal is to give our children the ability to function in this world when we are not there. So, releasing your child really begins at birth. Understanding that we are obligated to raise our children in a manner consistent with the reality that they eventually will have to someday cope as adults.
So, let’s suggest some practical ways to do that. I believe, if we’ll practice these suggestions now, when it comes time to release your children into a more permanent setting, it may be easier to do so. Now, there are different types of releasing at different age levels.
I would encourage all parents, when in church, after say, 6-8 months old, to leave their child in the nursery. One reason I encourage that is because you and those around you worship better. But the most important reason is that it introduces your child to be separate from you & involved with others. Parents protest, "Oh, my child will scream & cry if I leave them." But somewhere along the line they are going to have to go through the pain of separation and they’ll be better prepared if you do it early. As they grow into toddlers and grade schoolers allow them to be in Children’s church. We have a great children’s program, called “Christ’s Kidz,” headed up by qualified people who love your children and if there is a problem they will come get you... I promise. And as they become a little more independent let them spend the night away from home. Obviously in our culture you need to know the host parents well but release them in trustworthy situations to do a “sleep-over.”