And woe is me if I strike the wrong balance!! They resent what they consider excess monitoring. And I fear the possible consequences of too little monitoring!! We experienced a difference of opinion on precisely this question just last weekend.
Striking the right balance is particularly tricky with growing children, but the issue is certainly not limited to them. I have let some friendships atrophy because I didn’t hold on tightly enough, and I regret that. I have held onto some friendships after a former friend has moved on.
We face the same issue at Church. When someone begins attending St David’s, we all want to invite them into the community and make sure they know the many ways they could participate. But we don’t want to come on too strong or assume that people are more committed than they are. The same is true for people who are a casual part of the Saint David’s family, people who worship with us occasionally, but might not show up for several weeks at a time. What would be too much? And what counts as neglect?
Putting aside the important example of children, my impression is that we in our culture tend to err on the side of giving people too much distance. My own friendships have suffered more from neglect than from excess, and I believe I am typical. Americans are busy, and we mostly want to respect each other’s privacy. Add to that a little insecurity, and the result is a lot of loneliness and isolation. Indeed, I suspect the worst cases of holding on too tightly—stalking—stem in part from the stalker’s own sense of isolation and neediness.
As Christians, we are called to respect the dignity of every human being. That means, among other things, we have to allow the people in our lives the freedom to make their own choices about how they want to relate to us. But we are also called to love, and love means making ourselves available, even when it is a little scary or a little troublesome. May God give us all enough grace to do both, in something like proper measure!