Our last year in Champaign, we secured a place for Will in the University of Illinois’ Child Development Lab. (Yes, he was a lab rat—both kids were and they turned out fine!). A hidden observation area overlooked the classrooms, and on Will’s first day Jeff went up to check how he was doing. Eventually he discovered Will alone under a play structure—while the other kids were running around and playing at stations. Wow. Jeff felt sad and a little worried about how hard it would be for Will to adjust to a classroom with so many kids.
Will eventually made friends—and even asked if he could stay longer every once in a while because he always missed the afternoon playground time! But Jeff and me? Well, with every move we prayed for the kids to make good friends. And each time the prayers have been answered.
Last Saturday night I stood in front of a roomful of college freshmen’s parents during orientation weekend. My teaching partner and I divided them into groups, and one of the questions they discussed was: What’s one of the biggest concerns you have as your son/daughter starts college? The first group shared the hope that their kids would connect with others and make friends. Apparently many shared my vision of my son sitting alone in a dorm room playing video games every night!
Whether your child is starting pre-school, middle school, or college, praying for them to connect with others is important--and a good exercise in letting go physically but ramping up your spiritual support.
As I watch all the Facebook posts of my cousin’s son leaving for college, my niece moving into the dorm, kids from church starting kindergarten—or middle school—my prayer is not only for the kids but for their parents too. I pray parents will trust God with their kids—and find the balance between supporting their kids and letting them become ever-more independent. Letting go of our fears can often be as difficult as letting go of those we love as they move on to new adventures in life.