"So when they [Mary and Joseph] saw Him [Jesus], they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, 'Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.' And He said to them, 'Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?'"1
Seven-year-old Tommie was as cute as a button. In Vacation Bible School this past summer he was very attentive, bright, mixed with the other kids and related to them extremely well; that is, until his mother came in, sat with him among the kids, and kept her arm around him. Tommy immediately withdrew.
Smother mothers' love for their kids is more need—not for the child but for themselves, the mothers. This is extremely unhealthy for the child.
I have a close friend whose mother was an emotional smother mother. She set him up in the home to be the "little father/husband" because she needed him to lean on and to meet her needs. Until my friend got away from her and into therapy to work through and resolve his fear of being smothered, he was afraid to love a woman. In his conditioned unconscious mind, to be loved by a woman meant to be smothered. For much of his life he kept running from love.
And as for Tommy, unless his mother stops clinging to him out of her own need, he, too, is being programmed for failure in love. He may never be able to love a woman for fear of being smothered. Mothers need to let go of their sons so they are able to identify with their father or other significant male if no father is around. Otherwise they never learn to fully accept themselves as men, neither are they able to fully love a woman nor be a supporting husband or father.
The same principle applies to clinging, smother fathers. Children need to be allowed to grow up and be trained to become self-sufficient, independent teenagers so they can become healthy, secure, and inter-dependent adults.
So many adults today still have the emotional umbilical cord attached to their mothers. They need to cut it themselves so they can be freed from their mother-control to become their own person.
As we see in today's Scripture lesson, while Jesus was still dependent on his parents, he had cut the emotional umbilical cord by the time he was twelve years of age—which was the age for introduction into adulthood in the culture in which Jesus grew up.
Our job as parents is, among other things, to start letting go of our children even in tiny ways from earliest childhood so that by the time they are young adults they are liberated to become adults in their own right. If we smother a young tree, it will become stunted and die. If you smother a child, it too, will become stunted and die (or remain severely handicapped) emotionally.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, if I am a smother parent in any way, please help me to see the error of my way and, as Your human parents needed to let go of over-controlling You, help me to stop smothering and over-controlling my children, so that they are free to become mature adults in their own right. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
NOTE: Be sure to read the poem "Children Learn What They Live" by Dorothy Law Note online at: http://tinyurl.com/children-live-with.
1. Luke 2:48-49 (NKJV).