Letting Your Adult Children Go

Part Two: Giving them back

He lifted the receiver and dialed an all too familiar number. It rang once, twice, three times, and then four times. Finally, someone picked up the receiver at the other end, but there was silence. He spoke into the phone:

“Hello, is anybody there?”

“Papa!” the voice yelled. “Mommy!” she yelled again. He heard a thud as the toddler dropped the phone and evidently ran off to do whatever two year olds do.

There was another pause and a woman finally answered the phone, “Hello, who is this?”

“Hi, it’s me babydoll.”

“Oh, hello dad. . .wassup?”

“Not much happening here honey. I haven’t heard from you this week and was just wondering how you are doing is all.”

“Everything’s fine dad. I’ve just been busy. . .We’re all OK. . .”

Does this phone call resonate with anyone? For the majority of parents, there is nothing more difficult than letting go of our kids. Like I mentioned last week, we spend 18 plus years pouring out our hearts, mind, soul, and love into our kids. Then after 18 plus years, ‘swoosh,’ and in a matter of seconds as the door closes behind them, you swallow your heart, and they’re gone. There is a big hole where my heart used to be. All I heard was the echo of times past. There was dead silence where there used to be laughter, playing, running around, cartoons on Saturday, school events, and games/assemblies. I even miss the fighting between siblings.

As a father, I’ve been protecting and providing for my kids at least 24 years of my life. Now. . .nothing. OK, I understand that there is a coasting period that allows you to acclimate yourself while we break away from the empty emotions of not having them around and the kids begin to sever their ties with us. . .but dead silence? They have new friends, live in new places, and make their own decisions, as I sit here in my recliner wondering what that scary environment will bring to them. Will it swallow them up? Then, there are no phone calls for days, even weeks. What was I going to do with all this residual love I still have for each of them?

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. [Proverbs 22:6 KJV]

All of our kids are miracles, but they are only on loan to us from God. He loaned them to us to raise in the admonition of the Lord [1]. We were to train them in the way that they should go [2], provide for their needs [3], protect them [4], and love and discipline them for their sake [5]. Then we are to return them to God for they are a heritage from Him [6], and therein lay’s the rub.

All we can do (and actually, all we are supposed to do), is teach, train, provide, protect, love and discipline them. Then let them go out under the protection of the Lord. Each one of my kids is a biological part of me and when they leave the nest, I feel like I lost a part of me. When a person loses an appendage, they can experience what they call “Phantom limb.” Not all phantom limbs are painful, but my phantom heart was hurting.

How do I shake this phantom heart syndrome without feeling like I’m abandoning my love for them? How do I resist the urge to continually control their environment, give unsolicited advice, support them, and fear for their welfare? For a Christian, it is a real test of one’s faith. Where and at what age do you draw the line? When do you stop doing for them, what they can and should be doing for themselves? We enable them when we rob them of self-sufficiency. The answer is easy but the conundrum is. . .it is also the hardest thing to do. The answer is, we turn our kids back over to Christ with His love and nurturing. Then we pray for them every day. Christ’s burden is light [7]. The more faith we have in Christ, the less fear we’ll have of their safety, and the easier it will be to turn them back over to Christ.

However, for an earthly father, it is difficult to turn the job of daddy-hood over to another person, even to the person of Jesus Christ. They’ve been my responsibility for 1/3 of my life, and Christ, the creator of the universe, mandated their care to me. Because I love my kids and without compunction, I would gladly die for any one of them in a heartbeat. However, Christ loves them even more [8] and actually, He beat me in dying for them [9].

I’m 72 years old and I am still trying very hard not to butt into my kids affairs. I am sure they are not too happy with me many times. However, they are great kids [10] and still allow dad to be dad, even when I do fail at leaving them alone. At least they know that I care and that there will only be one time in their life that I won’t be there for them or be able to help them out, and that’s when I’m dead and at Jesus’ feet. I hope that I won’t be late in turning them back over to Christ. (Oops, I already failed there as well. I’m so sorry Lord.)

Next week in the final installment of this series, we’ll look at a mother’s viewpoint of letting go of their adult children.

[1] Ephesians 6:4
[2] Proverbs 22:6
[3] 1 Timothy 5:8
[4] Matthew 18:10, 25:40; Mark 10:14
[5] Proverbs 13:24
[6] Psalms 127:3
[7] Matthew 11:28-30
[8] John 3:16
[9] Matthew 27:32-61
[10] Actually they are grown-ups with kids of their own, who in turn, have kids of their own. Yes, I’m a great grandpa.

3 thoughts on “Letting Your Adult Children Go

  1. Expectaiions are a tough thing. Once you realize that things will be much different, for the better.

    Maybe if parents quit trying to Teach and control and start accepting things will smooth out. Remember you teach and control animals not human beings. You just love them.


  2. Very good blog … As we get older , we feel sort of left out , but then again , I know they have to live their own lives …I try not to worry but when Nikki tells me some of the places they are going , I can feel the heaviness of worrying trying to take over and I know I can’t say “you cannot go to that place!!”… I have to trust God to watch over them and bring them home safely … Once again , great blog !!! .


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