In this post: 3 stages of parenting
At 22 I married. At 23 I gave birth to Favorite First Born. That’s the age where you totally think you know everything because obviously, you are an adult, but you really don’t know anything.
I knew nothing about marriage, nothing about life and certainly nothing about raising a child. Big Jon was the first one to ask our OB to “go back in there and get the instruction booklet!”
Alas, she did not and we were on our own.
The thing is we learned. A lot. And now as I look back on it all, raising warriors taught me a few things not only about myself, but about boys, and about parenting relationships in general. And as I reflect on this experience I can see clearly that there are specific “stages” of parenting.
Stages of Parenting:
Stage 1: Queen
From birth, children need a ruler. Someone to protect them, to be responsible for them, to make the difficult decisions on a minute to minute basis.
As parents, we feed them, protect them from harm, keep them clean and dry. It’s our job to entertain, teach, and love. We set up a monarchy where moms and dads have all the power. Like kings and queens, we have complete sovereignty.
For their safety and well-being, moms make rules and insist on obedience. We instruct our children in our own world views, we educate them in all things, and we let them cry when we know it is their best interest to nap.
Favorite Firstborn was 16 months old when Favorite Second was born. So around 15 months, we had to move him into a big boy bed to make room for the new baby. Well, that was a challenge.
We put him in bed and he got out. Again, and again, and again. In fact, he got out of bed over 100 times one night (we counted.) But as the King and Queen, we put him right back into his bed. Again, and again, and again.
And the next night he only got up 50 times. And then 25 times. And then 10 and then finally he just went to bed.
The Queen won the battle.
Stage 2: Coach
Somewhere along the way, the Queen begins to allow her child a little leniency. A little space to make decisions. And ultimately the queen gives way to the coach.
This doesn’t happen overnight, but rather over time. In bits and pieces, our children begin to make choices. They begin to stretch their arms in unexpected directions. As the coach, this mama stands beside the child, offering advice and instruction as needed.
The single most important part of being a coach is allowing your child to fail. I know, according to Houston, failure is not an option. But in parenting and personal development, I believe it is essential.
Allowing your child to fail is one of the most difficult things in this world. Standing by and watching that thing you know will be an epic mistake happen is painful. But the thing is, you did your job.
You advised. You guided. You gave your child all the tools at this point. You have to let them make the decision. You have to let them fail at things.
Sidenote – Ok obviously if it is a safety issue, this is not where you let them fail. Duh. You know the old saying… if your friends jumped off the bridge and all that. Parenting does require some common sense, so please use it.
Life lessons are so important. Natural consequences are so much more effective than punishment at this point. For example, when Favorite Second was about 17 we got him a disposable car. (the only kind to buy for boys, but that is another story) He wasn’t 2 miles out of the driveway when Big Jon got a call from the local police. Favorite Second was speeding.
When I spoke to the police officer I thanked her for pulling him over, expressing the fact that this was the only way he was going to learn to abide by the rules. Shocking. I know. She hadn’t had this response from a parent before. 🙂
The thing is, he has never forgotten that life lesson. Failure is an option. It is necessary to create adults of good character who are prepared for life.
Step 3: Friend
In my experience, somewhere around the age of 25 or so, children become our friends. The is the ultimate “reap what you sow” moment.
The relationship becomes a balanced one. Equal give and take. Equal understanding. Equal respect.
We have the opportunity to learn from our children. To have conversations where we agree to disagree and no one is harmed. We celebrate each other. If we are lucky we enjoy spending time with each other.
The friendships that I am forming with my adult children and their spouses are the most significant relationships in my life. I am amazed at their passion, and understanding of the dreams they pursue. It’s thrilling to be a part of their growing families and I love to hear about their faith.
Being friends with the Warriors is the ultimate gift.
I’m curious. What stage of parenting are you currently in? Will you share an example of how you are navigating parenting right now?