A little over two months ago, our younger daughter came home to announce that she and her beau – who was with her – had eloped earlier that afternoon. We love the young man who is now our son-in-law and had fully supported an eventual marriage. But this was stunning news, made all the more surprising because she had turned 18 less than a week prior to the elopement.
Whether or not my husband and I – or our older daughter – agreed with the timing of the marriage or the means in which it was carried out, we had a choice to make. We could allow our shock to morph into anger and hard-heartedness, or we could work through our astonishment toward acceptance.
Though we each took a different route to get there, we all chose the latter. In my opinion, this was the right landing place, for at least three reasons. First, our daughter and son-in-law’s only possible sin in the matter was a sin of omission – i.e., keeping the elopement plans a secret. In reality, though, I’m not sure that was sin; it may simply have been a decision with which we didn’t necessarily agree. Second, Christ’s love calls us to reconciliation and relationship, particularly where there’s repentance. And both of them were extremely remorseful once they realized how sad we were at being left out of the decision. Third, I’m a Momma Bear; thus, for my part at least, there’s nothing my kids could do that would ever cause me to sever relationship with them.
Ultimately, I didn’t want my daughter and son-in-law to feel insecure around me. I wanted to communicate to them that I believe in them and in their ability to grow a solid, God-centered marriage that will stand the test of time, even if I wasn’t expecting it to start quite as soon as it did.
I’ve said that to them many times over the past nine weeks and will continue to find ways to do so going forward. We also chose to demonstrate our belief in them by hosting a post-elopement reception, which gave us a chance to acknowledge them publicly – in front of friends and family – as a legitimate married couple.
Whatever the particulars in each family, every parent will need to find ways with every child – many times throughout their lives – to say and demonstrate that we believe in them – and in their ability to stay or get back on a healthy path in life. They want this from us. In fact, they need it. So think on it; is there something you must say or do today to show one of your children that you believe in him or her?