“For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother, be united to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.”
That verse is Genesis 2:24. It’s usually referred to in the context of marriage. But Pastor Ted Cunningham pointed out to me that it actually begins as an observation about parenting.
It declares that a man will leave his father and mother. The verse assumes that our children will leave home as an adult, not as a child who must then set out on a journey to become a grownup on their own.
Adults build healthy relationships by separating from people when it’s healthy and appropriate to do so and by bonding to others for the same reason. That’s the essence of God’s “leaving and cleaving” design.
That’s why it’s such an important issue for us parents. When our children enter into the adult world, our relationships with them must radically change. In fact, the word translated as leave in Genesis 2:24 comes from a Hebrew word that actually means “to forsake.”
We have to cut the tether.
Our children can only become “one flesh” with their spouses if they and we cut the tether that keeps us attached in a parent-child relationship. And that can only happen with healthy emotional, relational, and financial boundaries in place with your children.
The good news is, detaching from your parent-child relationship opens the door for something equally as meaningful: an adult-adult relationship. That switch must occur as soon as your child steps into the world on his or her own and sets out to discover where God and life will take them.
But it will also be woven into every step along the parenting journey. I think my recent conversation with Pastor Ted Cunningham will help you understand that path a little better. We’re airing it today on our broadcast we’ve titled “The Importance of Leaving and Cleaving.”
Ted will offer some great tips for successfully cutting old tethers with your children and for forming new ones. Learn how to help your children “leave and cleave” in a way that empowers them to strike out into marriage with confidence and to have strong, meaningful relationships with their family and friends.
Tune in on your local radio station, online, or download our free phone app. Ted contributed to a Focus on the Family project called Ready to Wed, which includes a book and DVD curriculum. You can also find other helpful resources in our online bookstore.