One of the things Ellen and I spoke about at times when our kids were growing up was this. “Let’s enjoy our kids and not be in a hurry for them to grow up or get older.” In other words, we wanted to soak in and enjoy the moment. There were great times of joy, exhaustion, and sorrow. Regardless, we made it our goal to live in the moment and are glad we did.
I believe this is part of what grace means when we are able to rest in the Lord as Hebrews 4 talks about.
It helps to understand what stage of parenting you are experiencing with each of your children. The stages can be understood simply as Control, Convictions and Counselor. In every one of these stages, parents need to depend on Christ in them to parent and need to have older grace filled parents who can mentor them.
Control – When our kids are infants until they are around age 11, parents have to make a lot of their children’s decisions for them. Our children don’t have the emotional or intellectual ability to do this without us. Of course, even as they are moving towards age 11, we can be teaching them about making wise, good decisions. There is also a place for giving them opportunities to do so.
Convictions – From about age 12 through high school, we are in a time of helping our kids develop convictions about God, themselves and life. We can’t force any of this on them but we want to be sharing the important things on how real Jesus is to us, dating, working hard, integrity, money and more. This is definitely a time that can be very challenging. Some teens are very compliant and go through this time with no problems. Others seem to become an alien from another planet and parents wonder who took over their child’s body! Our kids may have questions or doubts about their faith but talking it through with them will help. Just don’t freak out if that happens.
Counselor – This is when our kids have graduated from high school and are headed towards living on their own whether through a job or at college. Parents primarily become counselors during this time. We have to be very careful that we don’t regress to the Control stage during this time. In fact, some parents sadly keep trying to be in the control stage even after their adult child is married. This is a time when we are continuing to guide our children into making more and more of their own decisions. We have input of course, especially if they want to do something like go to a college that costs more then we or they can afford. But in general, we want to help them learn more and more how to pray, seek God and make their own decisions.
Please don’t take these stages and turn them into hard and fast periods. We all need to be led by the Holy Spirit and there will be some crossover in these stages. Just to remind you, trust Christ in you, to parent through you. He’s the best parent ever!
I will be talking about this more during the “Parenting by Grace” Conference that I’m presenting in our office on April 7-8.
If interested, take advantage of our Early Bird discount fee by registering here. We offer this conference both in person at our Charlotte office as well as live online worldwide.