Recently, I was having a conversation with someone about an issue with one of my children, and the advice that was given was “You just need to let go”. Now I agree that as parents, we do need to let go, but only when the child is ready. The conversation brought back memories of teaching my children to ride a bike. Yes, I did let go. It would be difficult to be writing this right now if I still had a hand on the back of a bike seat. I let go, but only after I taught them how to ride.
If you have children, chances are you’ve already had this experience. If you are single or don’t have kids yet, the fun is still ahead. As I think back to what that time was like, I can see the progression that took place. First, there was the bike with training wheels, then came the conversations that mentally prepared the way to begin the transition to two wheels. For kids this is kind of a rite-of-passage experience. For parents, it’s a struggle. We know going in that the kid is going to fall, and probably scrape and bruise things in the process. But we also know that with some work, there will be a reward.
So we teach them how to ride. We teach them about balance and speed. We hopefully remember to teach them about brakes. And we proceed to learn a new skill ourselves. The skill of running behind a bicycle, holding the back of the seat. Eventually we move on to running next to the bike with an outstretched hand ready to grasp the bike if it begins to fall. And one day, we let go. Watching as the child, screaming in delight (or terror), finally rides on their own.
Now imagine, for a moment, what this experience would be like if instead of this process, we simply pointed at the bike and said “Go ride it”. Most kids, honestly, would figure it out. But it would take longer. And it would result in many more injuries. On top of that, it would create in the child a sense that they don’t have a parent that cares enough to teach them, or develop in them a false sense of “I don’t need anyone’s help.”
This can be applied to many areas of life. In fact, it can be applied to life itself. As our children progress from infants to adults, we need to mirror this process. We need to talk to them. To give them instruction. We need to show them the way. We need to hold on as they learn so that we can correct them when they stumble. We need to make sure they are ready. And then, we let go.
Some kids are ready to ride solo much faster than others. Some take more time.
And in my case, the instruction started too late. I spent the first 10 years of my daughter’s life, and the first 5 of my son’s life giving them the wrong instructions. And so now, I’m trying to give the instruction to them that they should have received long ago. But until I know they are prepared to ride solo, I’ll hang on to the seat a little longer.
Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he’s old he will not depart from it”. I can’t stop trying to train my children just because they have arrived as a certain chronological age. I want my children to head out into this world with the knowlede of the Word and a relationship with Jesus. I know what’s out there. Satan is prowling like a lion, waiting for me to let go of the seat. So, I’ll spend a little longer with them. I’ll continue to show them the love of Christ. I’ll continue to expose them to the Word. And I’ll continue to pray that the Holy Spirit fills them up.
And then…… I’ll let go. I’ll watch them ride away, knowing that I taught them what they need to know. But more importantly having pointed them towards Jesus.
Following His path,