As this year’s graduates said their goodbyes, I watched with a renewed attention.

This will be us next May.

So much of what I thought I knew about parenting has unraveled over the past few years. My oldest son is truly the test subject in this experiment we call parenting.

We’ve stumbled our way through communication.
We’ve walked the tightrope of independence.
I’ve over-parented at times.
I’ve fought against the fear of him failing, and letting him bear the weight of his responsibilities and challenges.

And through it all, I have a different view of what parenting looks like toward the end of high school.
It’s about becoming.
More specifically, it’s about letting my son become who God made him to be.

I’m not completely hands off, but I have chosen—sometimes reluctantly—to let my son be who he is. To let God reveal the man He wants Him to be.

He handles situations differently than me.
He has a different timetable than me. (Most people do.)
He interacts with people differently than me.

He’s not me. He’s not my wife.
He is who he is.
Not a replica. But someone new.

Someone who God made to be unique from me.
At times, I feel like I’m doing less molding, shaping.
And more watching as God reveals my son’s heart.
His character.
His passions.

Sometimes I look at him and think, “Who is this young man?” and “God, You did this? Well done.”
There’s something about this “becoming” process that feels so removed from me, even though I’ve been here since the beginning.

The next year is about preparing.
Preparing for what’s next.
Not just surviving the senior year.
But equipping.
There are some basic things my son still needs to learn.

But it’s also about watching God chisel away the boy to reveal the man.
Understanding that God may do that in all kinds of ways.

And while God chisels, my wife and I will continue to love our son.
Encourage him.
And remind him of God’s love in the process.