By REGINA GOLDEN
The wedding was beautiful, meaningful, worshipful. The couple made numerous promises and promised to do it all no matter the circumstances — for richer or poorer, in sickness or in health. They will never be the same.
But parents, too, are involved in the future of this young couple. The parents of the bride have cared for her through middle-of-the night feedings, broken bones, homework and the diligent and expensive plans for this very occasion. Yet in the ceremony, the father utters an often-unintelligible “I do” and they see their daughter “given away.” A new home has been started. The parents are not really “done with it” because they will play a role in this new home.
The new couple needs your love, support and sometimes your help. The new couple does not need you to run their lives or establish their new home.
In this area (deciding how much to be involved), parents of grown-up children have a tendency to go to extremes. Some examples of people who have lived before us show us how to do it; others show us how not to do it. We’ve known parents of grown-up children who called every morning to ask questions like: Did you see the sunrise? Have you planted your garden? Did you take your vitamins? Is your bed made? Is your checkbook balanced?
Other parents of grown-up children never call. They show little or no interest in what their children are doing or thinking.
We want to do it just right; we all do. How do we come up with the right plan? Think about what you wanted from your parents and/or parents-in-law when you started your own home? Set some guidelines.
Even though your grown-up child has left your household, he/she still needs to know you will listen without being judgmental — that you will give your opinion without being demanding. Be a good listener. When your son or daughter calls or comes to tell you some exciting news or to share with you some plan for the future, be very careful. Ask questions; ask because you really want to know but also because sometimes those questions cause the young couple to think through the process themselves. Don’t ask those questions like a lawyer leading to a specific conclusion. Ask them as a person genuinely interested in the subject.
I Corinthians 13:4-7 has some good guidelines for living and they also apply to the relationship between parents and their married children. Read them and put them in your own words. Love will cause us to control our words. Love will remember whose house it is. Love will remember that it is their family now not yours. Love will allow you to keep no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love always hopes, trusts, perseveres. Love never fails.
The wedding was beautiful. The marriage can be, also. We, as parents of adult married children, can add to its beauty by praying each day for the young couple and praying each day for our own wisdom. We need wisdom to walk the fine line between too much and not enough involvement with the next generation. They will love us for it.
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 2.4.09