My older daughter went to middle school camp with our church youth group last week. It was the first big event that she's done that I didn't chaperone. As the day to leave approached, both she and I were a little apprehensive. They were, after all, attending camp a 12-hour drive away from our home.
All went well, though. She had the time of her life, and I enjoyed some uninterrupted time with our younger daughter. She came back from camp a more mature kid. She learned to be responsible for herself and her belongings. She learned to navigate the waters of making new friends. She grew spiritually. She bonded with her youth leaders.
All of those things might not have happened if I had gone along on this trip. Our kids' instinct is to turn to us and let us take over when we're with them. They know that we can solve their problems and help them out. But the truth is, our kids need other adults besides us in their lives. They need people they can go to when they don't want to talk to mom or dad. They need people who can give them the same advice you would give them, but whom they will listen to with open ears and eyes that don't roll.
We have to help our kids cultivate those relationships with other godly adults. We have to be willing to step back and allow them to form mentor relationships with people who will pour God's love and grace into their lives.
Sometimes that means that we don't go as a chaperone to an event. Sometimes that means we intentionally set out to find our kids a mentor. Sometimes that means that we suggest our kids talk to their children's pastor or youth pastor when they are struggling with an issue and refusing our advice.
It really does take a village to raise our kids. The more people we can surround our kids with who are able to offer them God's wisdom and love, the better equipped our kids will be to face the world. We want our kids connected to people who understand the source of wisdom is God. We want our kids to know people who recognize the impact of the words of Proverbs 2:6, "For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding." Whether it's sending our kids off to camp by themselves or finding another adult that they can talk to, it's important that our kids have multiple adults who are telling them the same things we are telling them.
The truth is that our kids don't always listen to us, but they may listen to the same wisdom coming from another adult whom they love and trust. Helping our kids create those relationships is one of our jobs as parent. And sometimes that means we simply have to step out of the way.