Summer is my favorite season. When the days get longer, my smile gets wider. Sunshine overhead translates into joy in my heart.
To me, the transition from spring to summer is the least noticeable of all season changes. Maybe it’s because I live in the Pacific Northwest where only two seasons exist: rain and less rain.
One morning, I woke at 5 am and it was light outside my window. This is the first sign that summer is closing in on us. If I was someone who slept until 7am, I wouldn’t notice it. Summer would descend with little fanfare.
Reflecting on this seemingly sudden change of seasons, I realized there is a spiritual application. (This shouldn’t have surprised me. A close look at the Bible reveals that many natural phenomena are a shadow of spiritual truths.)
Our lifespan is filled with changing seasons. More than four seasons comprise the life of the average person. If we just start listing the stages of life, we’ll see there could be dozens. Infanthood, childhood, elementary aged, pre-teen, teenage, young adult, newlywed, new parent, parent of teenagers, empty nest, parent of adults, and grandparent to name a few broad categories.
I realized the season that I’m emerging into is one that slips in like summer. It’s the season of being a parent to adult children. Didn’t I just adjust to the empty nest? Heaven forbid, yes. Isn’t that the same thing?
For me, it wasn’t. My sons bounced back to our home during school breaks. Right now, both of them are here again, and it is likely the last time we’ll house our original family of four. If I hadn’t stopped to consider it, the season would have changed without my awareness.
Why is that important? After all, once you’re a parent, you never stop being a parent. That makes it one life-long season. I disagree. Parenting takes many shapes and sizes, and weathering these changes will take a different mindset.
Parenting teenagers is quite a different season than parenting young adults who are attending college. If you’ve never done either, you have no frame of reference. For parents who have experienced both, the differences are vast and clear. Teenagers still need a firm guiding hand, but those kids in college need to try out their wings of independence.
As a parent, my interaction with my children should be noticeably different in these stages. If I approach my adult sons in their own homes the same way I approached their closed bedroom doors in their father’s house, I’ll be in big trouble. After all, they will be the master of those homes. I will hold no authority or sway there.
Moms, repeat after me: “I have no authority in my child’s home.”
I think this is most difficult for women to accept. We are little nest makers and have probably organized our children’s rooms and lives for more than two decades by the time this season arrives.
It’s time to step back. I no longer hold even an advisory role with my adult children. I have become a mere consultant. Have you met a consultant who offered their advice for free without being asked? Not a successful one. We need to remind ourselves to back away and wait to be asked for input.
If we didn’t see this as a different season, we would plunge ahead, trying to organize our child’s new home like we did their bedroom. They will be offended. They might not say anything (because they love you), but your interference will make them doubt their abilities.
I know this isn’t what any parent wants. Take a step back when your children move out on their own (permanently – although I tried to let my sons organize their college homes by themselves, as well). When they need help, you’ll know it.
“Mom, what brand of detergent do you buy?” is not an invitation for you to storm in and reorganize cupboards. Don’t offer more than they ask for. This will be difficult. You will need to bite your tongue or maybe just cover your mouth with your hand.
Summer can be a happy time full of joy. So can the season when your children become fully independent from you. Let them go with your hand even as you hold them close in your heart. And continue to raise them up before the throne of your Heavenly Father.
He is the Master of every season and will never be surprised by anything.