When Is My Child Mature Enough to Leave Home? is a great article by a Bob Kauflin, an experienced Dad and pastor. The article was clearly addressing the unique flavor of the North American Christian sub-culture; and primarily the ideal attitude (a heart readiness ) that a parent should be focusing on developing – not the life skills required for complete readiness. I liked the barometer of heart readiness being primarily set on the issue of humility – as maturity in every epoch of the Christian life is set on it to some degree.
Since my husband and I have five teenagers ranging in ages 13 years to 18 years old, we spend a lot of time thinking, talking, and praying through the issues surrounding our children entering adult life. We this call this process ‘launching’. Eighteen is what Americans typically think of as the launch target year, but eighteen is a number – it is not necesarrily the golden age of maturity. Some people could probably enter the adult world at 14 or 15 – others still aren’t ready at 35, or even 55 (God forbid). Either way, I like that this article is moving parents away from the mentality of parental control intrinsic to healthy parenting in the baby years, and moving parents towards maturity in parenting – i.e., training our young adult children to think and act in accordance with principles of godly wisdom and humility.
One responce (that I heard) to the article was an emphasis that our young adult children should learn to look beyond their parents to other believers within the church family for wisdom. Of course, a Christian parent has, to some degree, failed their children if they have not taught their children by word and example to seek godly counsel beyond their own parents. With that, it is imperative that the parent train their children to discern the difference between friend and foe, sheep and wolf, false teacher and true teacher – especially, in the context of the church. After all, the apostles did that with their ‘spiritual children’; and the Holy Spirit does this with us (2 Corinthians 11:1-6; 2 Timothy 3:1-9; 2 Peter 2; 2 John; Jude 3-4).
Having left home at 15, enlisted in the military at 18, and having worked in prison ministry, I see the benefit of home-schooling for this very reason. Institutions, be they scholastic, ecclesiastical, civic, or otherwise, indoctrinate participants with a group think mentality that often impedes the maturing and discerning process by which a person develops the life-skills necessary for living life on ‘life’s terms’ in a fallen and corrupt world. Group think dumbs the mind and hardens the heart – making it difficult to know who is trustworthy to give reliable councel and who is not.
In fairness, as homeschooling parents we should be aware that the only thing more dangerous than the ‘group think indoctrination’ that dulls discernment is a home-schooling parent that decides that they will be the lone voice of wisdom and direction for their children! Sometimes we can desire to protect and shield our children from the dangerous world that looms outside the front door, but fail to warn them of the most dangerous door they will ever encounter – the door of their own deceptive and treacherous hearts. Unfortunately, some homeschooling parents smother and paralyze their children, as opposed to protect them and teach them how to ‘go with God in the strength of His wisdom’.
Which is the bottom line of this article. Really, when it’s all been said and done- the kids will leave home when they feel that they are ready – not necesarrily when we feel that they are ready. That is the way it is in this culture – whether we like it or not. (Of course, we hope that they have the wisdom and humility to seek out godly councel.) Either way, I felt that this article was helpful not so much for instructing me in the specifics of what to do with my young adult children in preperation for leaving home; but rather it served to encourage me with a God honoring perspective on the reality that they are leaving, and it is my job to prepare them according to Christ-centered wisdom.
So much of what Dan and I had to do with cultivating their souls in preperation for their launch is either finished or soon to be finished. We are at the point of teaching those practical life-skills necessary to fairing well in the stormy seas of real-life, not just teaching them the humility based discernment necessary for living an abundant life in Christ. The teen years are when the fruit inspecting years start to take off, and the fruit cultivating years start to slow down. Wow! I guess for Dan and I, it’s soon to be harvest time! And, this article was helpful in showing me the type of fruit I should be looking for in the days, months, and years ahead as we prepare our children for launch.