Parental Advisory: Explicit Truth

Leaving home for Uni is just as big a deal for your parents as it is for you.


What must it feel like to watch your kids “fly the nest”, leaving to make their own way in the world? I can’t imagine how mum felt the day she dropped my little sister in Durham… the last of the three Swaffield children to leave for University adventures. The house is certainly quieter without us, I know that much!

However, when you have been brought up in a Christian family, when your parents have always taken you along to church, suddenly leaving home raises the stakes higher. Not only are your skills in the cooking and washing department being tested, but now mum and dad have to hope and pray that your faith is independent enough to survive, without the family Sunday routine to keep God in the picture.

When you go back home, if you have been brought up going to church, do you still go along? How many of you only go to church when you’re around your parents? And if that’s you, why do you still go? Is it out of a sense of duty, or a feeling of not wanting to let your folks down after they’ve brought you up a certain way? Do you actively want to be in church but maybe haven’t found a place to settle at Uni yet?

We can’t live off our parent’s faith.

We know this is true, but when we leave home comforts and the church we’ve known for ages, and we’re left standing alone in a new city with a choice on our hands, it becomes easier said than done. Suddenly, choosing to follow the radical road after Jesus doesn’t seem an automatic response, when mum isn’t driving you to your church meeting, and dad isn’t checking up on your lifestyle choices. The lack of parental guidance can feel releasing and daunting all at once. I wonder if it feels the same for our parents?

In the book of Samuel, a women called Hannah has never been able to have children. Finally, God answers her cries of despair and she and her husband are miraculously blessed with a son, Samuel. Hannah had promised God that she would dedicate her son’s life back to God and so, when Samuel was still very young, Hannah took him to live and serve in the temple, saying, 

“I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” (1 Samuel 1: 27- 28).

In the same way, for our parents, there must come a Hannah and Samual moment, when they have to give us over to God and trust that as God has been faithful with us under their care, that God will be faithful now we are out on our own.

We can’t have our parent’s faith, we can’t follow Jesus because mum thinks it’s a good idea or because we don’t want to disappoint dad.

So I ask you:

  • How have you done on your own?
  • Where do you stand now it’s just you and God and a new life at University?
  • How much did parental advice shape where you are with faith and church today?

Miriam Swanson

Global Student Mission Leader

Miriam helps equip the church for student mission internationally. She's based in the USA and hungry to see young adults follow Jesus with all of who they are. 

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