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.

Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.

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34 Comments

  1. Jill Burretto Bryant

    Trust me, I have quite a few of them. Trying to put some in storage…LOL..​.but not this one!

  2. Travis Agnew

    Which of the 4 categories do you see parents staying too lo

  3. Jill Burretto Bryant

    Coach. Some parents don't give their children room to fail or fly, even when they're waaay past the age of needing it. I call them "helicopter parents" – those who hover. I see it a lot with my 13 year-old son's friends' parents. I don't give my child total leeway, but I do give him room to make some decisions for himself and fail if that's the outcome of those decis

  4. Kimberly Brezeale Timms

    When you see children being buried alive under porches of pediphiles and how sloppy our laws protect them from abuse, it's hard not to hover. I think that is a sign of our society. My child can't even ride down the street on her scooter without being watched. We had a man coming through our neighborhood talking to kids. You only get one chance to mess that up. I believe God meant for us to protect our kids from harm, unfortunately, there is more harm than there use to be out there. If that makes me a helicopter parent so be it. As far as kids making decisions, every child has a different maturity level, some r ready sooner than others to do things. I want to empower my children and keep them from

  5. Jill Burretto Bryant

    I agree totally! In this day and age, we have to be more vigilant than our parents ever had to even THINK about being! When I talk about "helicopter parents" I don't mean those who take measures, whatever measures necessary, to protect their children, that would make me a helicopter parent as well. I mean those who don't let their kids have ANY measure of independence even though they are at the age where they need to spread their wings a little. Those parents who raise kids who are still totally dependent on mom & dad when they're grown and can't stand on their own because they were never allow

  6. Kimberly Brezeale Timms

    I understand your point! They need to know things before they leave the ne

  7. Jill Burretto Bryant

    My son is 13 and we're getting into the "Counselor" stage now. I don't hover over him and micro-manage him anymore, I listen to his feelings and if he disagrees with us on something, I listen to why he feels the way he does. If his explanation makes sense and is SAFE, I will sometimes change my course of thinking to let him try his "wings." If he fails, it is a learning experience for him. However, there have been many times that my husband and I have deferred to his way of thinking and he has experienced success. This, to me, is as much of a learning experience as failure, because we have allowed him to evaluate a situation, use his own judgment and learn to trust and develop his decision-making ab

  8. Which of the 4 categories do you see parents staying too long in?

  9. Coach. Some parents don't give their children room to fail or fly, even when they're waaay past the age of needing it. I call them "helicopter parents" – those who hover. I see it a lot with my 13 year-old son's friends' parents. I don't give my child total leeway, but I do give him room to make some decisions for himself and fail if that's the outcome of those decisions.

  10. When you see children being buried alive under porches of pediphiles and how sloppy our laws protect them from abuse, it's hard not to hover. I think that is a sign of our society. My child can't even ride down the street on her scooter without being watched. We had a man coming through our neighborhood talking to kids. You only get one chance to mess that up. I believe God meant for us to protect our kids from harm, unfortunately, there is more harm than there use to be out there. If that makes me a helicopter parent so be it. As far as kids making decisions, every child has a different maturity level, some r ready sooner than others to do things. I want to empower my children and keep them from harm.

  11. I agree totally! In this day and age, we have to be more vigilant than our parents ever had to even THINK about being! When I talk about "helicopter parents" I don't mean those who take measures, whatever measures necessary, to protect their children, that would make me a helicopter parent as well. I mean those who don't let their kids have ANY measure of independence even though they are at the age where they need to spread their wings a little. Those parents who raise kids who are still totally dependent on mom & dad when they're grown and can't stand on their own because they were never allowed to.

  12. I understand your point! They need to know things before they leave the nest :))

  13. My son is 13 and we're getting into the "Counselor" stage now. I don't hover over him and micro-manage him anymore, I listen to his feelings and if he disagrees with us on something, I listen to why he feels the way he does. If his explanation makes sense and is SAFE, I will sometimes change my course of thinking to let him try his "wings." If he fails, it is a learning experience for him. However, there have been many times that my husband and I have deferred to his way of thinking and he has experienced success. This, to me, is as much of a learning experience as failure, because we have allowed him to evaluate a situation, use his own judgment and learn to trust and develop his decision-making ability.

  14. Travis Agnew

    Very good stuff. What I tend to see is strain on relationships when a child needs a consultant and they continue to get a coach or even a counselor. But they all break down like that in these categor

  15. Jill Burretto Bryant

    Now that I've gotten off my soapbox, CUTE pic, Travis!!! Handsome boys you got t

  16. Travis Agnew

    Thanks. But soapboxes are always welcome

  17. Jill Burretto Bryant

    Trust me, I have quite a few of them. Trying to put some in storage…LOL…but not thi

  18. Woody Nivens

    With Bryce being 12, I think we are moving from the coach to the counselor stage. We have always encouraged him to let us know exactly what he thinks, even when (especially when?) he disagrees with us. We want to show him how to resolve issues when there are differences of op

  19. Jill Burretto Bryant

    Exactly! And how to be a rational person who evaluates the situation and makes the best decision they can. The only ways to do this are to A)let them see you do this, and B)let them do it on their own and either fail or succeed. Either way, they learn how to make decisions and how to disagree without being disagre

  20. Travis Agnew

    "let them see you do this" is critical Jill. I wonder how manychildren hear their parents say they were

  21. Very good stuff. What I tend to see is strain on relationships when a child needs a consultant and they continue to get a coach or even a counselor. But they all break down like that in these categories.

  22. …like i've said.. you gonna need to start workin out with me.. its comin.. i promsie..lol

  23. Now that I've gotten off my soapbox, CUTE pic, Travis!!! Handsome boys you got there!!

  24. Thanks. But soapboxes are always welcome here!

  25. Trust me, I have quite a few of them. Trying to put some in storage…LOL…but not this one!

  26. With Bryce being 12, I think we are moving from the coach to the counselor stage. We have always encouraged him to let us know exactly what he thinks, even when (especially when?) he disagrees with us. We want to show him how to resolve issues when there are differences of opinion.

  27. Exactly! And how to be a rational person who evaluates the situation and makes the best decision they can. The only ways to do this are to A)let them see you do this, and B)let them do it on their own and either fail or succeed. Either way, they learn how to make decisions and how to disagree without being disagreeable.

  28. "let them see you do this" is critical Jill. I wonder how manychildren hear their parents say they were wrong.

  29. Jill Burretto Bryant

    Mine hears it quite often. We have only been parents for a little over 3 years now, and we are still flying

  30. Mine hears it quite often. We have only been parents for a little over 3 years now, and we are still flying blind.

  31. Travis Agnew

    I don't know if that ch

  32. Jill Burretto Bryant

    I don't think it does. The longer I am a parent, the more I realize that I know NO

  33. I don't know if that changes!

  34. I don't think it does. The longer I am a parent, the more I realize that I know NOTHING!

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