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Though we cannot nor should control our children, we do want to be intentional in our parenting. One of our goals is to raise children who are biblically wise and not foolish. Wisdom is skilled living in God’s world. And wisdom starts with fearing the Lord (Prov. 9:10).

With the individualism of the West and the nature of the human heart, it is easy for adult children to say a “Thank you!” and then launch out, without thinking much about their parents. I certainly did that as a young person.

But though they may have left our house they have not left our hearts. As a parent of adult children, I can tell you that my four children are regularly on my mind. Unbeknownst to me, I had stumbled across a biblical truth. Our hearts are connected. I heard someone say once, “You are about as happy as your unhappiest child.” I can tell you from experience that statement is true. Why?

Our hearts are connected even when they are adults. 

Proverbs is full of verses that describe the continued connection between a parent and their children.

  • Proverbs 10:1 A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.
  • Proverbs 15:20 A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish man despises his mother.
  • Proverbs 17:21 He who sires a fool gets himself sorrow, and the father of a fool has no joy.
  • Proverbs 17:25 A foolish son is a grief to his father and bitterness to her who bore him.
  • Proverbs 19:13 A foolish son is ruin to his father, and a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.
  • Proverbs 23:24-25 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice.
  • Proverbs 28:7 The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding, but a companion of gluttons shames his father.
  • Proverbs 29:3 He who loves wisdom makes his father glad, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.
  • Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

As you look over those verses notice how a wise child brings joy to his or her parents. And a foolish child brings sorrow. These Scriptures start to explain the ache that parents of prodigals carry in their hearts. 

Implications for Parents
As I have meditated on these Scriptures, I have thought about what I would say to my children if I could go back to their teen years. 

I think I would say something like this. “Mom and I love you and want to launch you from the house. We are doing all we can to help you gain wisdom and avoid foolishness. You will have to make your own choices and stand before the Lord. Just know, that as these verses teach us, our hearts will always be connected. Your wise living under God’s rule will bring us great joy. Your foolish choices will be hard for us. Our love and connection is but a faint echo of that from your Heavenly Father.” 

We cannot not and should not control our children. But we can remind them that “a wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.” Our hearts will still be connected long after they leave our house.