When 4 + 2 = 3
"For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." Genesis 2:24
Several people have asked me in recent months if I am eager to become a grandma. My standard answer each time, has been "no, I love it being just the six of us." It has such a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
In my mind and heart, when Kati married Jordan we gained a new son. When Nick married Josie we gained a new daughter. And that's true. Tom and I hit the jackpot. We gained two more people to know and love. Love like a son and a daughter.
I love my growing family.
Then, after my last post about how to prepare ourselves for the time our children become adults, a reader sent this note...
"Accepting that our mature adult children are their own persons and not appendages of us is crucial.
(My husband) and I believe that our family of four did not “grow to a family of 6” when our kids got married, but that we are now 3 separate but intimately connected families.
Our son and son-in-law are now the head of their own families."
Well, that stopped me in my tracks!
It's a subtle difference, but what an important shift. After all, God stated pretty clearly and early on how He planned for families to be organized!
Leave and cleave is how I've heard it said.
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds." Romans 12:2a
Over and over again on this journey with my adult children, I am reminded how important it is to renew my mind - change my thinking - shift my attitudes. If I am not open to embracing new understandings, I run the risk of creating barriers that will harm what I long to create. I might have understood how to apply this teaching to some areas of my evolving relationship with my adult kids, but I have to stay open to learn and grow as each new situation presents itself.
My friend went on to share this...
"We do not have any “control” over our kids, but with love, respect, listening, caring; not being selfish, but considering others better than ourselves, looking not only to our interests but the interests of others…..we can continue to have tremendous INFLUENCE!"
Here we go again. Shift those thoughts! When our children were young, as parents we were "in control of our family." God intends it to be that way. Problems come up when we are not in control. Problems come up later, however, if we don't relinquish that control. When they become adults (and that doesn't happen at marriage - another thought for another day.) it is vital for us to make intentional decisions to change in our interactions.
If I try to "control" anything in my relationship with my adult children, they might be tempted to pull away and stop sharing ideas, news, plans. My attempts to control might make me an unsafe relationship to bounce off new ideas and desires. That would break my heart, but would be the result of something I created.
When our conversations are full of "you can't," "you should," "you need to" or other commanding phrases, I have reverted back to a controlling type of communication. (Boy, oh boy, is that a hard one to break!)
If I focus mostly on my selfish deisres for visits, communication, etc., looking more to my interests than to their need for time to build family, create their own special family traditions, to move wherever their family needs for jobs, etc. I might become a complaining and demanding mom that no one really enjoys being around. I might create a relationship where they avoid time together and talks.
When I thought about all this, I realized that as a young married woman, I NEVER considered that I was becoming part of Karl Ziegler's family or that Tom was becoming part of John Mosher's family. Tom and I were forging our own family, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Ziegler. We are intertwined by love and commitment to Karl and John, but separate and independent.
I was reminded that Jordan and Nick have the same feelings about creating their own families now. During one of our fun family times together last year, Jordan was praying for all of us. Though not word for word, I remember one thing he said in that prayer.
Thank you, God, that the Zieglers and the Zechs can spend this time together.
Hmmm. The Zieglers, the Ziegler’s, and the Zechs.
So, while Tom and I have been blessed with a new son and daughter to shower with love, I am embracing a truth that challenges the logic of math.
Four Zieglers + two marriages = three new family units.
I would love to hear from you! We are all on this journey together - no matter what side of the road you find yourself right now. Please leave comments or contact me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org