Roots & Wings (and a solid foundation)

It’s that time of year again – social media is packed with pictures of loaded up vehicles and newly moved into dorm rooms…and parents lamenting their struggle with how to handle this phase of life. It’s all wonderful and scary at the same time. I know because we are in this same place in our lives.

This is when I remember a saying we’ve had on our kitchen wall for years – a parent’s role is to give their child roots and wings.

The “wings” part is the current transition we college parents are starting to experience. It is the “letting go” stage – allowing our children the opportunity to fly on their own.

Yes, they will probably have some rough landings along the way. They may even have some crash landings – didn’t we? It’s all part of the transition.

It’s the “roots” we give them that will allow them to get back up when they tumble. Roots are the foundations we have taught them.

There are normal foundations – we teach them manners and to respect themselves and those around them. We give them the tools they need to be a productive part of their community.

There is also a deeper foundation – a foundation under the foundation.

We bought the house we currently live in mainly because of the lot. Yes, the house is beautiful, but the lot is hard to come by – we are surrounded by wetlands with a wonderful view. Lots of wildlife and quite. We love it.

But the land was previously a burrow pit – an area dug out and the material used elsewhere as fill material. Then it was backfilled. All of this means that the land the house is on is not the original earth and has been brought back in to refill the lot.

Anyone in house construction will tell you that the most important part of building a stable house, that will last, is having a proper foundation. In our case, just building a regular foundation would, in short order, create big issues because the underlying ground was not solid.

Therefore, we have what’s called an engineered foundation. They dig out all of the “shifting sand” until they reach the solid ground. Then they create layers of concrete, gravel, and dirt. Layer upon layer until they have refilled the area back up to the original landscape height. Then they put the normal house foundation on top. In our case about 20 feet (over two stories) worth of foundation under the foundation.

In our lives the foundation under the foundation is our relationship with Christ. We can teach our kids to be “good”, but without a solid foundation under that foundation, our “goodness” will either crumble under the weight of life, our burn us out – eventually causing us to crash and burn.

When Christ is our foundation under the foundation, the Gospel gives us our unchanging and solid IDENTITY. This is what our children need most.

It’s not their GPA, who they are dating, their major, or how well they handle their new found freedom. It’s who they are in Christ that will provide them the unchanging basis upon which to live. GPAs will fluctuate, boyfriends/girlfriends will come and go. They may even change majors a time or two, but knowing their true identity will get them through the travails of this life.

Maybe you don’t have this foundation yourself (parents), or maybe you feel like you didn’t give your children this foundation. Unlike building a physical house, where going back to put in a foundation under the foundation would be impossible, this is not the case with our lives. It’s never too late to discover the “Root” we need to build upon.

If you’re not sure how to do this, please read “The Gospel” page on this site.

What our kids need from us is roots and wings. With the right roots, watching them spread their wings is a lot less scary.



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