The other night we rented the movie “After Earth.” It was an entertaining enough movie, but more importantly it had a significant message for me as a mother. The characters Cypher (dad) and Kitai (son) are the sole survivors of a crash onto planet earth, which has not been inhabited for 1000 years. Cypher is wounded and cannot walk. The emergency beacon is damaged, but there is another one in the tail section of the spacecraft which is some distance from where the front section crashed. It is up to Kitai to make the several day journey to find the second beacon and initiate it. Near the end of his journey Kitai is pursued by a dangerous cargo that was on the ship and that had survived: an Ursa, an alien species from the planet that the humans had inhabited after earth’s ruination.
At some point Kitai loses communication with Cypher, who was guiding him on his journey via voice from a video that was attached to Kitai’s pack. It occurred when Kitai was attacked and captured by a large condor. At that point Cypher believes that Kitai has been killed. It is now up to Kitai to continue the journey on his own and do so in a limited time before supplies run out and his father succumbs to his injuries. In the end Kitai is successful, although he experiences much danger and mishap in the course of his journey.
What I came to realize is that, as parents, there comes a time when we need to trust our children to make their own journey in life. There is a time for teaching and a time for training. There is a time to assist them as they make some important decisions. But there is a time to let go and to let them make that journey on their own, without our voices in the background confusing them. They will remember what we taught them. They will remember the training. And they will implement them effectively. They will figure things out. That is how they will learn and that is how they will grow.
So as I send my second son off to his 2-year missionary service–away from home and away from communication other than a weekly email and a phone call twice a year–I will trust that everything I have taught him through the years will come to his remembrance and he will act and make decisions accordingly. He will be successful in his journey.