A Ride in the Car

Some things take some getting used to … like my youngest riding next to me in the car. For the past 12 years I have caught my son’s eye in the rearview mirror as he rode safely tucked in the backseat. Now that he is legally allowed to ride in the passenger seat, I’m struggling to get used to it.

Parenting our children is a lot like riding in the car. When our children are young, the safest place for their fragile, small bodies is in the backseat. Similarly, young children follow us through life. We are called to walk ahead of them, showing them how to live their lives for God. After some growing and maturing, kids are legally allowed to ride in the front passenger seat. The change in position translates: older children still need the guidance and support we offer but responsibilites begin to shift to the shoulders of our children.

Someday in the next six months, my oldest son will move to the driver’s seat. He will look to me for instructions on how to operate the vehicle. This is the tricky part of parenting. I am no longer in the driver’s seat. I remain in a teaching, guiding, supportive role, but I have released the reins I have been holding for years. If I grab the steering wheel out of fear of where my son is headed, we will surely wreck. My job is to guide him safely through the dangers of driving with my hands tucked snuggly under my legs so as to keep them from reaching for the wheel.

After much (much!) practice, my son will be ready to drive on his own. In the coming years, I will become less needed for guidance and teaching. I will certainly remain available for any questions, but only upon request if I want our relationship to grow into a healthy friendship. I am along for the ride, seated in a position of support (including constant and unlimited prayer on his behalf). From the passenger seat, I will encourage my sons to seek God for guidance and teaching.

Though each position in the car is a bit unsettling at first, I trust God to help me transition as my sons move into greater responsibility and ownership. What a ride ahead of us!

What position in the car of parenting do you currently occupy?

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