I was sharing with my parents last night something that has been bouncing about in my mind the past few months. As parents, we make millions of decisions about raising our children over the course of their childhoods. Some decisions are small and seemingly unimportant (can she wear mismatched clothes to the party? should they eat McDonald's franken-nuggets?), and some are important life-defining choices (when should they receive sacraments? where should they go to school?). We try to discern God's will and do the best thing in each circumstance.
To put it simply, I am amazed that my parents did this same thing for me (and my brother, of course). As a child, even as an adult, I was not aware of the conversations they must have had about what was best for me. It is clear to me that they had these conversations, because I know they are intentional people who do things deliberately, not randomly.
And, because I was completely unaware of this master-planning of my upbringing, it is stunning to me the responsibility parents have for their children. (well, parents who intentionally set out to raise responsible adults, that is) In fact, I often feel my husband and I are orchestrating some grand symphony whose many parts are dizzying as we try to juggle them all!
The reality is that we can steer our children one way or another. We can attempt to instill in them the same priorities that we decide are most important in life. Yet, they will, in the end, be in God's hands. They will do whatever they want (like get engaged to a guy they have only dated for three months and move across the country a few times with him to chase dreams even taking your grandchildren thousands of miles away from you...) and as parents we have to embrace it all.
Yes, we can try to be the conductor of our children's lives and dreams. We can hope to lead them towards the best path, especially the road to sanctification. But we also just need to love them and trust that God is truly the master planner of their lives. Because at some point, they will leave us, and I can only hope and pray that they will not leave God.
Thanks, Mom and Dad, for all your careful decisions in raising me. I think I turned out okay! As I parent my own children, now, I beg God's guidance in leading them to be what He created them to be, and I pray for their faith so that when I am far away, they will follow God's will, not mine, not theirs.