As my kids grow bigger, I’m learning to let them make their own choices. Even when I disagree.
Like last Saturday, for example, at the grocery store.
“Mom, can we get a watermelon? Please? Please? I love watermelon!” My six-year-old spied a crate of enormous melons in the center of the produce aisle. She clasped her hands in front of her chest and pleaded.
“Sure, we can get a watermelon,” I nodded. “If you promise me you’re going to eat it.”
“I will, I will! Can I pick one?”
Now, you need to understand—I’m really picky about my fruit. Grapes must be firm, apples need green stems, bananas should be slender, and watermelons are best in smooth, sun-ripened skins.
So when my daughter reached for the ugliest, pock-marked, asymmetrical pale green watermelon in the pile, I cringed.
“You like that one?” I raised my eyebrows.
“Yeah, Momma, I want this watermelon.”
I hovered over the crate for a few seconds, dropped my jaw halfway to object, then clamped it and exhaled hard through my nose. I helped my daughter lift her choice into the cart and wheeled toward the bakery aisle without looking back.
It’s only a watermelon, after all. Not a car, or a college, or a husband. Can’t hurt to let her pick her own fruit, right? Might even help.
“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed,” (Proverbs 3:13–18).
Our kids will make a lot of choices in their lifetime. What clothes to wear, which friends to hang out with, yes or no to drugs. I have opinions about these things, of course, and in some cases my opinions dictate rules for my children to follow. But eventually their decisions won’t be under my sole influence or happening under my roof. When that time comes, I hope and pray to God they’ll do the right thing.
But how? How will my six-year-old learn to make wise choices if I constantly make them for her?
Yes, a watermelon is only a watermelon. But at that moment, it was so much more. It was an opportunity—to show my daughter that her decisions matter.
One day, each of our children will make the ultimate choice—whether or not to live for Jesus. I’m starting now, building my kids’ confidence in their own decision-making abilities, so that someday, when they’re grown, Jesus will be their choice and not just some habit they picked up from Mom and Dad. For faith to be real, my kids need to own it—deeply, personally, and completely. It begins with me backing off on the small choices. It begins with a watermelon.
When we got home from the grocery store, I scrubbed that ugly melon and sliced through the rind, expecting to find dried-up, seedy flesh about as flavorful as cardboard. But to my surprise, the fruit was ruby red and shimmering with juice. I bit off a chunk, and my taste buds tingled.
I’ll be darned. A perfect watermelon.
“Nice choice, sweetheart.” I handed my daughter a slice. She smiled.
“I know how to pick ‘em, don’t I, Mom?”
I sure hope so, my love. Mom is praying that will be true.