It is a blessing to see how God sometimes introduces us to people to teach us something. I met a woman on a beach vacation whom I’ll probably never see again, but I learned so much from one conversation. The woman, whom I’ll call Sally, appeared to be an attentive, caring, responsible parent. She and her husband were good Christians and raised their two children in a strict conservative home. Their children are now 27 and 30 years old. One is living a left-wing liberal life in Oregon, and the other is living with one of a line of girlfriends with whom he has had a child.  Sally and her husband have been raising a grandson since his birth four years ago. After 35 years of marriage and at age 54, they are raising another child.
I can’t imagine the dreams she had of what she would be doing once her children were grown and out of the house – once her life became her own again. Amazingly, she finds her circumstance as a way to “do it the right way.” She talks about her parenting when her children were young, and I relate to her heartfelt desire to keep her children safe. Not wanting them to spend the night away from home, always planning family activities where everyone had to attend no matter what social event was happening at the same time, not allowing her children to drive until they were 17, visiting her children almost every weekend during their first year of college.
As she and I shared the things we do and don’t let our children do, it made me wonder, “How do you know what the right balance is between protecting and allowing responsibility?” Do all parents share this dilemma? As my children get older, I am constantly tested with finding this balance. It sounds like the pendulum always moves one way or the other for as long as we are parents.
Insight and, hopefully, wisdom is what I received from my talk with Sally. The thing is, you have to leave it up to God and know that His will is best.
Donna Rayburn is a local     resident, mother of four children and author of I Accidentally…, a story about her son’s kindergarten adventures. E-mail her at

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