It’s a season when we parents are prone to worry. Many of us have kids who are preparing to go on mission trips this summer. And so much could wrong on those trips. Think of the risks: travel accidents, health issues, meeting dangerous people, and terrorism just for starters.
But what choice do we have? The time of transitioning from adolescence to adulthood requires that we let go. We want the best for our children, so when they ask us for permission, we grant it. We grant permission and we start worrying.
I’d like to offer parents some thoughts about how to deal with the natural worry that they face as their kids go on mission trips. My credentials for doing so are that Karen and I have been sending our five children on mission trips all their lives. And it’s made an amazing difference in who they’ve become.
When our two middle daughters, Emily and Estie, were 16, they both began lobbying for a year abroad, Emily for a mission in South Africa with a drama ministry, and Estie to Kenya to work with orphans. We sent them as 17 year-olds and we couldn’t help worrying. But we knew that they were dreaming righteous dreams and that God himself was in those dreams.
A World Race parent named Susan said it well, “Who am I to stand in the way of my adult child fulfilling the call of
the Lord. I would be more afraid of standing in her way than of letting
her go. Yes, there are dangers on the trip. But, raising a child,
attending a college, going to work, or driving down the street in
America is not with out risk. I chose to send her with my full blessing.”
I guess it helps that neither Karen nor I are prone to mentally churn about things we can’t control. We’ve always seen challenge and pain as a necessary part of our children’s growth, so releasing them was not hard philosophically. Emotionally, however, was another matter. We missed having our kids around – they brighten up our lives so much.
Philosophically, we knew that we’re just temporary stewards of these kiddos. God loves them more than we do – releasing them to his care is no risk at all. We believe that we’re to disciple our kids to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and to do the sorts of things he did. We read the passages where he chides his disciples for their small faith, and we realized that the only way they were going to get faith was by taking risks. Risks that invited our worry.
So, in a sense, maybe worry is just a parent’s occupational hazard. But it’s also true that we baby boomers have gone way overboard in trying to protect our kids from harm. We boomers have removed the possibility of pain and now a generation of young people doesn’t know how to cope with pain. They don’t know how to risk failure or how to commit.
We need to encourage one another as parents to release our kids and to deal with the inevitable worry that follows. I’d like to invite those of you parents who have gone through the process to share something of your own experience that might be of help to other parents reading this.