10 Things Your Kids Need from You to Learn How To Leave And Cleave

Gina Smith

Updated Jul 05, 2022
10 Things Your Kids Need from You to Learn How To Leave And Cleave

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (Genesis 2:24)

To my adult children:

You have always been welcome additions to our home. The years spent with the 4 of us being a tight family unit were, in my mind, the answers to every heart longing that I’d ever had. From the dream-come-true moments that I met and married your father, to the life-altering births of you, my precious babies, I have always believed that you and your father were a miraculous answer to prayer, gifts that came straight from the Father's hand, and a mercy that has been lavished on one who had, at one time, believed that she was a hopeless misfit.

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wedding rings on top of a wedding dress, leave and cleave

Christian Marriage and Parenting: What Does it Mean to Leave and Cleave?

Over the past 30 years of marriage and parenting, I have studied the scriptures and have read every scripture based-book I can get my hands on that might help me be the kind of wife and mother that God wanted me to be. The greatest desire of my heart has been to live this privilege and calling well.

This year as our family has been transitioning into a new season, I am finding that I am back in the classroom having to learn how to be married, and how to be a mom, in a new way. As with past seasons, God has much to say about how I am to live and he did not forget to address our present season.

10 Things Christian Parents Must Do To Help Their Children Learn How To Leave And Cleave:

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1. Thank God for how he will provide a place for you to live.

1. Thank God for how he will provide a place for you to live.

Having your own place to call home will always be a tangible expression of the fact that you are your own, separate unit. We will work hard to not show up unannounced, and to respect your privacy.


2. Thank God for how he will provide for you financially and how he will teach you to trust him for all of your needs.

We want to help in any way we can, but know that we will be asking God for wisdom to know how and when to help. 

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Mother of the bride helping her daughter get dressed, leave and cleave

3. Ask God to show us how to encourage you to leave home emotionally.

We know that you now share things with, process decisions with, and talk issues through with your spouse first. We will always be here for you, but our goal is to not to manipulate you or make you feel guilty for this.


4. Ask God to help you to live out your own faith.

We have raised you the best way we knew how, with the knowledge that we have been given. We will pray that God will continue to work in your heart and that you will grow in your faith individually and as a couple. We pray that God will put people into your lives who can help in your growth process. We know that we are not the biggest influence in their lives anymore.

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Father and son hugging, leave and cleave

5. Ask God to help us to relinquish those things that we may have considered to be tradition.

God's Word trumps tradition, culture, what we have "always done," and our preferences. We will help you learn how to obey God's Word by making it easy for you to leave and cleave, and by allowing you to start your own family traditions and way of doing things.


6. Ask God to help us to not behave in a way that will make you wish you lived 3,000 miles away from us!

Please know that you are free to live the way you feel God is leading you to live, even if it is different than we do. You are unique individuals who are coming together, we know that your family will look different than ours has, and that you will be learning as you go. We will not judge or criticize the way you do things. We will work hard to not give advice unless you ask for it. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Inside Creative House

Adult Daughter Talking to Mother At Home, leave and cleave

7. Ask God to help us approach our new role in your lives with the future in mind.

There may come a time when our health or circumstances might require you to be there for us in a new way. If God calls you to take care of us in our old age, we want to make sure that we have been a blessing to you in any way we can, in the years prior, so that we will not be a burden to you.


8. Ask God to help us remember that we are not your number 1 priority.

We know that you will have new priorities and a spouse that you will prefer over us.

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Young African-American couple dancing and laughing in kitchen, leave and cleave

9. Ask God to help us to know how to encourage you to put your marriage relationship first.

Your marriage must come before your relationship with us. We are praying that God will help us to adjust to this new reality.


10. We are praying that you will truly bond with your spouse.

Your marriage is now your most important relationship next to God. Having a God-honoring marriage will take hard work. We will continue to pray for you on a daily basis. That will be a way for us to enter into your battle and help empower you to work hard to prioritize your spouse.

Being your parents is an honor and a privilege. We promise that we will continue to learn how to be loving, supportive, and God-honoring parents to you and your spouses. And know that, as long as we are able to, we will be on the sidelines cheering you on!

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A small boy kissing a sleeping newborn baby brother at home, a mother holding him.

When Leaving and Cleaving Look Different for Each Child


Your leaving and cleaving took place all in one day. You woke up on June 9, 2018, in our home as you had for the past 28 years. You headed to the church, got married, went on a honeymoon, and you never slept in our home again. In one short day life as we had known it changed. I turned your childhood bedroom into an office for me to write in and moved on with my life, but that did not stop the flood of emotions from coming every day when we woke up with the knowledge that we would never be that tight little unit of 4 again.


Your leaving and cleaving has been different than your sister’s. In September of 2018, you left our home to start a new job. You are now working full time, finishing school, and will be married in June 2019. That is the day that you will have to begin living what it means to cleave. Your leaving has been hard on us. Like with Brianna, we miss having you under our roof and the security of having the 4 of us be one tight little unit. Your room is still there for you to use if you need it, but it's not the same. It will never be the same. And when you get married in June, I will rearrange your childhood room into something new, and that will be the final change that will mentally thrust you into your new role as husband and leader of your own home.

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Close up of a lady reading Bible, leave and cleave

"...this is exactly the way that God ordained it to be."

Our hearts are aching as we are learning a new normal, but we know that this is exactly the way that God ordained it to be. His desire has always been that you leave one day. His desire has always been that your father and I have a marriage that is strong enough to weather these winds of change, because his desire has been that, at some point in our own lives, WE have learned to leave and cleave to one another!

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Genesis 2:24: Defining Christian Marriage and Parent/Child Boundaries

Genesis 2:24: Defining Christian Marriage and Parent/Child Boundaries

According to Genesis 2:24, the bond between husband and wife is stronger than the bond between parent and child: That means that you will now be bonded to your spouses. But it also means that your father and I need to allow that to happen and we need to be bonded to one another as husband and wife in the same way!

God is the One who ordained that Adam and Eve would be joined together. He said that the two of them would become one flesh. This is a picture that involves only two people – husband and wife. To “cleave” means “to adhere to, stick to, or join with.” It is a joining of two people into one unit. 

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Happy young couple having fun outdoors and smiling, leave and cleave

"When you marry, you have become a new, separate family."

When you marry, you have become a new, separate family. If we make it hard for you to become a separate unit, then we have become a stumbling block. And you could very well suffer a lack of intimacy and unity and be hindered from building:

  • A marriage that will persevere in hard times
  • A relationship that ultimately points others to God and his glory

With all of this in mind, your dad and I want you to know that we are in prayer asking God to keep us from hindering you from learning what it means to leave and cleave.

Gina Smith and her husband have served on a Christian college campus as the on-campus parents for over 20 years. They have lived on the campus where they homeschooled and raised both of their children. In her spare time she loves to write and recently authored her first book, “Grace Gifts: Practical Ways To Help Your Children Understand God's Grace." She also writes at her personal blog: ginalsmith.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Ivanko_Brnjakovic

Originally published Tuesday, 05 July 2022.