Let me introduce my family to you. Wayne and I are both talkers and out-going people. We produced five children: four boys and a girl who are just like us. Every one of us thinks that we are the funniest person on the planet and that we must be entertaining the others all of the time. We are a very close family and spent a lot of time watching movies and playing games together. We are debaters because each one of us is always right. I had another mom tell me when my kids were little that I just didn’t understand what she was going through because I didn’t have a strong-willed child. I just chuckled and told her that I had five. I just spent the first two or three years of their lives “convincing” them that they would not continue being strong-willed. (Proverbs 22:15 – “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him.”)
When the children were little, our yard was the gathering place. (That way I knew what was going on.) There are nine years between my oldest and youngest children, so we had teens for several years. We raised our children to reach out to others so our house was the “hang out” house. Our weekends were spent with a house full of people… loud people just hanging out or having parties. (Yes, I’m probably a control freak.)
Then my children started heading off to college. This was so hard on me but for several years there was always one or two still at home. I thought the college years were going to make me sad but I loved them! My children went to Oklahoma Christian so coming home to the Denver area for holidays really wasn’t that hard to do. And every time they came home, they brought a carload (or two) of people with them. There were times that we would have a dozen young people staying at our house. (And we only have one shower ) There were even some boys from the Denver area that I would have to remind to go visit their own families for part of their visit in Colorado. I have met so many amazing Christian young people! God was truly being glorified through these people.
Well, the college years are over. My kids are all out on their own and starting their own families. At first I floundered around just a little bit because raising my children had been one of the major “purposes” in my life. “Mom” wasn’t really my major role anymore. But after I stepped back and looked around, I realized that there was so much more that I could focus my attention on now. And I will say that Wayne and I do enjoy all of our alone time together. Life is actually moving at a different pace now and we love it. Not a slower pace, just different. (And I won’t even start on the joy of being a Grandma!)
So, I would like to share just a few points on how to make your full to empty house transition go smoothly.
- Raise your children to be faithful. “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6. Doing this allows your mind to be at peace with letting them go.
- Raise your children to be independent. They must be able to stand on their own to start a healthy life. I think of young Joseph. He was sold into slavery and torn from the life that he knew. But Joseph had been trained and could make decisions; wise, healthy decisions on his own. He had been trained to be an independent thinker. (I put faithful first because you want them dependent on God.)
- Put your husband before your children always! He must know that he is the single most important human in your life.
- Develop the relationship with your husband. Have date nights! If not once a week, at least once a month.
- Be ready to develop you! I was doing some public speaking/teaching while my children were at home but now I can do even more. I don’t have to worry about missing any of their appointments or not being there for them. Find something you love to do and use it to bring glory to the Father!
- Do not “retire” from Christianity! Step up and grow!
- Develop friendships with all age groups! Be a mentor and always allow yourself to be mentored.
Is this an easy transition? I just can’t say that it is. But I can tell you don’t wallow and don’t cling. Well, maybe you should…wallow in the scriptures, fill yourself up, and cling to your Father in Heaven. Those things will help immensely! As for me, well, it is still just too quiet in here! Guess I’ll have the teens over!
By Tami Roberts
Tami is the main person responsible for all the wonders of the CFYC Spiritual Development Retreat. She and her husband, Wayne, serve with the Parker church of Christ* in Parker, CO. Wayne serves as the minister and evangelist. Tami and Wayne are both instructors for the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. They have been married for 30 years, have five children and three grandchildren. More than anything, they enjoy spending time with God’s people.
* Editor’s note: There are some excellent podcasts available on the Parker church of Christ site. Be sure to download a few and listen (click here).