First comes love...then comes marriage...then comes baby in a baby carriage! For the conclusion of our February series, we're talking all-things parenting. There is no perfect family: and at Liquid, we have single parents, traditional families, stepparents, grandparents, teachers and mentors pouring into the lives of our kids, and more. The question we all share is this: How do you bring up kids in our modern culture to love God, love others, and be confident?
Our anchor verse for this subject is found in Proverbs 22:6 of the Bible, where we learn that the way you begin parenting a child in their early years will impact how they end up later as an adult. Let's keep this verse in mind as we navigate the 4 main stages of parenting!
STAGE #1: DISCIPLINE (AGES 1-5)
When children are young, the days are long and hard. This first stage of parenting is simply about survival - and if you have little ones under 5, you understand this! A great way to embrace this challenging season is to create a family rhythm. In the Northeast, we lead hectic, busy lives - which means that creating a daily and weekly structure is critical to creating room for your family to flourish. Pacing and structure are important, so think about this: What are the priorities in your weekly schedule at home that communicate love?
STAGE #2: TRAINING YEARS (AGES 5-12)
Next up, the training years are the grade-school years where kids are on the doorstep of adolescence. During these pivotal years, it is critical to communicate clear expectations. Kids can't remember a shopping list of rules, so consider sticking to 3 main family rules. When rules are clear to kids, the challenge for parents will come when responding to disobedience. Will you correct your kids with compassion? HOW consequences are framed can make all the difference during this stage!
STAGE #3: COACHING YEARS (AGES 12-18)
Next up, the coaching years are when you come alongside your kids as adolescents. As a parent you come alongside your teenager on how to do something on their own: Whether that means navigating relationships, thinking for themselves, or learning how to become independent and responsible.
Now, when kids go to middle school, the key here is keeping open lines of communication. So, don't freak out... it's important that at this stage, tweens and teens know they can trust their parents. When teens break trust (and at some point, they will!) you need to show them that you can still be trusted to fight for their heart - and to do everything you can to restore the relationship.
STAGE #4: FRIENDSHIP YEARS (18+)
Ultimately, our goal as parents is NOT to have well-behaved kids or raise up materially successful people who go on to Ivy League colleges or have high-end careers. That's not a Biblical goal - that's a goal of Western culture. We want our children to be relationally rich. To grow up to have deep, abiding friendships with us (their parents) and friendship with God. We want their faith in Christ to be their own. We want our kids to know the Heavenly Father's love and affection, discover their God-given gifts and the role God created them to play in His story.
So, whether your family is struggling or simply surviving, through Jesus Christ, you have access to your Heavenly Father. God is the only perfect parent any of us will ever know! In John 15:15, Jesus said his disciples were no longer servants, but they became his friends. He trained them up first, and with time, that friendship came. It's the same with parenting! For every age and stage, God can teach you and coach you and provide everything you need to be the parent that your child deserves. Have hope today - it's never too late to trust in Him on your parenting journey!