A Parent's Limits

by Jan Silvious

If you are a parent, you are probably plagued by a raft of unanswered questions, guilt, frustration, and nameless fears. But there's only so much we can do for our children. And there comes a time in every child's life when a parent must let go...and let God. If we try to hang on too long, we'll only alienate the child and get in God's way.

The following poem by an unknown author puts this truth into perspective:

It's Your Move, Daughter

I gave you life,

But I cannot live it for you.

I can teach you things,

But I cannot make you learn.

I can give you directions,

But I cannot always be there to lead you.

I can allow you freedom,

But I cannot account for it.

I can take you to church,

But I cannot make you believe.

I can teach you right from wrong,

But I can't always decide for you.

I can buy you beautiful clothes,

But I cannot make you lovely inside.

I can offer you advice,

But I cannot accept it for you.

I can give you love,

But I cannot force it upon you.

I can teach you to be a friend,

But I cannot make you one.

I can teach you to share,

But I cannot make you unselfish.

I can teach you respect,

But I can't force you to show honor.

I can grieve about your report card,

But I cannot doubt your teachers.

I can advise you about friends,

But I cannot choose them for you.

I can teach you about sex,

But I cannot keep you pure.

I can tell you the facts of life,

But I can't build your reputation.

I can tell you about drink,

But I can't say NO for you.

I can warn you about drugs,

But I can't prevent you from using them.

I can tell you about lofty goals,

But I can't achieve them for you.

I can let you baby-sit,

But I can't be responsible for your actions.

I can teach you kindness,

But I can't force you to be gracious.

I can warn you about sins,

But I cannot make your morals.

I can love you as a daughter,

But I cannot place you in God's family.

I can pray for you,

But I cannot make you walk with God.

I can teach you about Jesus,

But I cannot make Him your Savior.

I can teach you to obey,

But I cannot make Jesus your Lord.

I can tell you how to live,

But I cannot give you eternal life.*

My friend, I can encourage you to release your child into God's hands, but I cannot let go for you. You and I have to come to that reality on our own. One thing is sure: God is bigger than all of our worries and all of our concernsand as much as we love our children, He loves them more!

From The 5-Minute Devotional

©Zondervan I99I

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*Poem quoted by Barbara Johnson in Fresh Elastic for Stretched-Out Moms (Revell, I985).

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