If I try too hard to make my kids happy and break all their falls, it will backfire. When grown, they will expect everything in life to go their way. Their personal happiness will take priority over everything. If I refuse to let my children learn from failures, they will be unprepared for the harsh realities of the world. They will have difficulty submitting to a spouse, a supervisor at work, or a civil authority because their life will be all about their own gratification. In the long term, they may never find happiness, or they may encounter casualty upon casualty throughout a lifetime in their personal relationships.
It is hard enough to train a child who is well to accept responsibility for his/her actions; it is much harder to do this with a child who has a disability. As a mother with a nurturing bent, I will always want to ease the pain of my disabled child because I know his/her disability will bring harsh realities and disappointments that others may never have to face. However, I fully understand that sheltering them will only lead to disaster later on.
Two weeks ago, my 19-year-old grandson, who has lived with his grandfather and me for three years, decided he was going to move out and get an apartment with two friends. He has a disability, but generally, his outward appearance and actions do not reveal it. He had enough money in the bank for the deposit and rent for two months, with a little left over for groceries. After several long discussions with him, my husband and I could see that we were not getting our point across. Our point was that signing a one-year lease without a job was a recipe for a crash and burn scene. It seemed to us that employment should come before renting an apartment, but he assured us he would have no trouble getting a job very soon. Perhaps he was correct in thinking so, however, overconfidence is a symptom of his illness.
During our last discussion with him, my husband went silent long before me. He stopped trying to reason with our grandson, while I kept talking, but my logical words bore no fruit. I finally stopped talking. In frustration, I retreated to my bedroom and started vacuuming the carpet with fury, while praying about what to do. I cannot explain what happened next, except that a peace came over me and I felt strongly that God was releasing my, almost 20-year-old, grandson from under my daily care.
The peace remained. The next day I went to the bank with him and withdrew his money, which was in my account. I had done everything in my power to help him make a responsible decision, albeit without success. I could protect him no longer from the “hard knocks” of life. Releasing him was emotionally complicated because of his disability, nevertheless, it was clearly time to “let go, and let God.”
Dorothy Ruppert, author of “God Placed Her in My Path – Lessons Learned from the Furnace of Bipolar Disorder.”