By Monica Cane
Five years before we ever conceived our son, I began praying for him. Not only did I pray for his safe arrival, but I prayed for every aspect of his life spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. My prayers included things such as his first step, his manner of speech, peace and wisdom during the teen years, along with God’s covering during his transition into adult life, marriage, kids, vocation, ministry, and beyond. In other words, long before my son ever entered this world, he was completely saturated in prayer.
You would think with all the faith-based praying I did and the constant reassurance I received from God that he was the one stirring my heart toward prayers for a child yet conceived, that I would have no worries or cares about my son’s life once he arrived. For a brief time, I actually didn’t worry too much, like when he was a little boy always hanging on my sleeve. During that season he rarely left my side, and he followed Jesus because his mommy and daddy did. However, now that my little boy is a senior in high school, has let go of my sleeve, and is learning to seek God for himself as he prepares for college and adulthood—well, I’ve been worrying about a few things.
Have we taught him all he needs to know? Will he be prepared for what lies ahead? Will he still need us as he steps into adulthood?
Certainly over the years my husband and I have taught our son about the importance of having a strong work ethic, developing his spiritual life, maintaining a home—finances, cooking tips, cleaning, and overall how to care for himself. Yet as a mama bear preparing to let her cub venture out into the world, I can’t help but wonder, Is he ready?
I began to fret over if he’s ready—then quickly realized that I had two choices. I could either work myself into a parental frenzy of worry or I could sit down with my son and have a heart-to-heart chat about this soon-to-be new phase of his life.
Fortunately, my son was open to the idea of a little Q & A time with his mama, so I posed a handful of questions, some general and others more personal, to find out how he was feeling. I was surprised by some of his answers. Not only because his mature style of communication completely trumps my elementary style, but because his answers opened the door for us to have a deeper conversation in regard to life, expectations, transition, and faith, which is very much needed when it comes to helping our children move forward in life successfully.
Here is a peek into our ready-or-not conversation.
Q: Now that you are a high school senior, have you noticed a shift in focus toward college and how do you feel about it?
A: Yes. A surprising and noticeable amount of attention has shifted in school from quarter grades and semester finals to college applications and letters of recommendation. While for the most part I look forward to the newfound liberties that are brought on by such ventures as college, I occasionally feel a tinge of dread with the idea of switching from one school to another.
Q: Are most of your peers anxious to be considered adults, free from parental involvement, upon graduation? How do you feel about this?
A: As far as I’ve observed, most teenagers seek all the liberties, benefits, and advantages of adulthood, all the while hoping to avoid the numerous detriments and responsibilities of being an adult. It’s a constant back and forth that occurs with teenagers to understand just how much they desire the active presence of their parents.
Personally, I have no need to be considered an adult anytime soon, especially given all the responsibilities that come with adulthood. I recognize that I do not possess all the experience and monetary foundation needed in order to pursue a fully independent life, and I do not have any problem with that; I find it better for me to take my time to achieve such things.
Q. Do you feel that we, as your parents, have prepared you for adulthood? What has helped and what hasn’t?
A: I would say that I have been well prepared by both of you. It seems that you had forethought as to how you wished to raised me, which allowed for a much more pleasant experience than that which may have resulted from a more unprepared parental viewpoint. Your consistent care, effort, and kindness have made an abundant and sincere impact on me and has shown me the nature of interacting with society.
If anything were to have inhibited me in the past years, it may have been times of excessive conservatism. While it helped me morally, sometimes it disallowed me the chance to understand and appreciate other lifestyles and viewpoints that I might be exposed to in college and in adulthood.
Q: Does having a spiritual foundation make a difference when it comes to transitioning into adulthood successfully?
A: Yes, having a spiritual foundation certainly impacts my life. It’s allowed me to grow with a set of beliefs which will help keep me from morally swaying from this way to that.
Q: What do you need most from us in order to transition successfully from high school to college life and eventually adulthood?
A: I desire your support. If I am to commit to college and prepare for a career and adult life, I would struggle greatly to stride forward in my ambitions were I not supported by my parents. I think what was true in kindergarten is true for college (and beyond): Children need their parents’ support and encouragement in order to prosper. This support begins with understanding. Even if a child has no idea what to do or pursues the most absurd of interests, it certainly pays to listen to them discuss their feelings, concerns, questions, and desires.
Letting go of the reigns naturally brings a certain measure of concern for most parents, but what I learned from our Q & A time is that God has honored my many prayers, and my son has been listening to things we have taught him all along. As we wrapped up our conversation, I was reminded of a simple yet profound verse in the Bible: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
We’ve prayed for our son, we’ve given him a good a foundation, and he knows he has our support. Now as he prepares to enter into a new phase of life, it’s time for me to cast my Mama cares on God and trust that he will guide my son as he’s been doing all along. I can cast my cares on God as my son learns to cling to his sleeve instead of mine, and with that, I know he’s ready.
Monica Cane is a writer from northern California.