You’ve probably heard life being referred to as a “great race.” In 1 Corinthians 9:24, we are instructed to “Run in such a way as to get the prize.” So, when I was asked to write about loving my adult children, the first words that popped into my head were: Pass the baton.
As young parents, we immediately become coaches for our family team of “race runners.” We teach our kids how to run. We run by their sides and we carry them when they tire. We patch their skinned knees when they fall and we feed their bodies to keep them strong. We watch as they hesitantly run their first small races alone. And, we celebrate their wins and dry their tears when they lose.
As our runners become older, it is our job to perfect their game and smooth out any rough edges and bad form. We teach them empathy for other runners and all the other “invisible” lessons they need to learn to run a good race of their own.
As our kids become teens they are almost able to outrun us and they know it. Because of this, there will be countless clashes because they don’t feel they need your coaching anymore. It will be tempting to give up and let them run wild and free. Don’t do it. For all their bravado, they need you now more than ever. And, although you can see the finish line, don’t be tempted to take a shortcut to get there. Wait for that second wind and keep on running with them.
And, finally, the teen years are over. You have run with endurance in spite of illness and injuries, in spite of roadblocks and a lack of team spirit. You’ve instilled in them a sense of fair play and sportsmanship. You’ve taught them everything you know. You’ve trained this group of runners to be the best they can be.
It’s finally time to … pass the baton. The next leg of the relay is theirs to run. It’s time to unfold that lawn chair and sit on the sidelines cheering them on. They know you are there, close by if needed, nudging them back on track when they wander out of their lane. But, for now, this is their time to run free.
There’s not a lot of glory in passing the baton, for all focus in life seems to be aimed on the runner. And, it can feel lonely sitting on the sidelines watching your team run by without you. They will probably find new ways to run faster and farther. They will hold the baton looser and more naturally. In short, they may be better runners than you ever were.
But, you ran your leg of the race using everything you were taught by your own coaches (and more) and you passed the baton without dropping it. It is now time for the next generation of runners to take off and find their own ways to run a good race.