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Different Stages of a Parent

I’m the father of two boys.  Two 2-year-old boys mind you.

I constantly evaluate how I am parenting them.  Am I intentional enough?  Am I too hard?  Am I showing favoritism?

Recently, Jeff taught on the four stages of a parent in one of our Men’s Fraternity meetings.  Life-changing stuff.  Here they are:

  • Coach – During elementary years, children need a coach.  They need someone instructing them how to do things.  They need evaluation.  They need cheers and constructive criticism.
  • Counselor – During teenage years, children don’t need a coach anymore (in fact, they start to resent it), they need a counselor.  They need someone to listen to how they feel.  Someone who will listen.  Someone who will care.  If the parent remains a coach without listening, the child begins to confide in someone else other than parents.  That window of opportunity can be very small.
  • Consultant – In college, a child needs a consultant.  A consultant is one who comes in to help when asked. This is huge!  As they are approaching complete independence, a coach or a counselor can keep them from pivotal growth,  When the child needs help and asks the parent, then the parent should step in carefully not to take over, but to provide insight and possible direction to a young adult.
  • Colleague – When one’s child is independent (out of the house, working, married, etc.), they no longer need a coach, counselor, or consultant, they need a colleague.  They want to know that their parent sees them as a fully-functioning, stable member of society.  That child wants to know his or her parents approve and are proud of them.  That child wants to know the parents respect their decisions.  They want to know that their parents allow them now to be adults.

If ever a parent lingers too long in a previous category (or steps ahead some steps), drama is crouching at the door.  I have counseled many people with issues with their parents.  If every parent understood these 4 categories, many of those issues would be cut in half.  The pathway to a family’s hell is paved with good intentions.  Good intentions keep parents trying to fix their kids when they need to let them fall sometimes.  Good intentions dictate when they should simply listen.  Good intentions baby when they should cut the cord.

While many people don’t like to let go, we must remember: just because our role changes with our children doesn’t mean our relationship has to.

In fact, if your role doesn’t change, your relationship just might.