Loving My Kids Through the Stages
(by Haley Carter)
Parenting has been an amazing journey. Honestly, when we chose to have kids I thought mostly about having little kids… babies, toddlers, and preschool age. Of course, I knew our children would grow older, but I couldn’t see that far ahead. Now eight years and (almost) four kids later I see just how much my role as their mother is going to change through the years. While there are many roles that parents play in their children’s lives, I believe there are three primary stages of parenting.
The first stage of parenting is to protect our children. When our children are first born or adopted it is our job to protect them from pain and to supply them with all the things they need to be healthy. This includes giving them care and nourishment, protecting them from dangerous things in our home, and keeping them from people or situations that prove not to be safe.
This stage is very important in our children’s development and growth. Children need to feel safe and protected. This was the stage that I always envisioned before becoming a mom; however, this is far from the only role we will play in our children’s lives.
The next stage we enter is equipping our children for their life ahead. Instead of making all of their choices for them, we start equipping them to make good decisions for themselves. As early as their toddler years, we begin to prepare them for social encounters and for their life ahead.
As they grow older, we should find ourselves “protecting” them less and “equipping” them more. Our goal shifts from keeping them from all pain and difficulty to equipping them to handle the situations on their own. This begins to prepare them for life without us.
Of course, the teenage years provide ample opportunity to equip our children. During these years, much of our role as their “protector” has or at least in my opinion, should be limited. We may encounter a situation every now and then that we should step into, but primarily we should be letting our child learn from his/her own choices and then, of course, implementing consequences and boundaries as necessary.
The final stage of parenting is “influencing”. Because it is impossible to force influence on a person, not all of us will be given the opportunity to influence our children into adulthood. This is the stage where it is no longer our job to protect or equip our children. This is the point of their lives they get to decide for themselves the life they want to live and also who is influencing it. I have yet to experience this but can imagine it may be a very difficult transition.
As parents, we need to understand the roles we have are seasonal. We are given time to control our children’s lives and then that season is done. They get to make their own choices and our role is to respect the choices they make… unless they ask us for our input.
Our function and our relationships with our children definitely change through the years, but there is one thing that never should and that is our responsibility to love them unconditionally. No matter what stage we are in, it is our job as parents to show our kids love.
As we are raising our children, we will protect our children and we will equip them, and then we get to take a step back and enjoy the beautiful person they have become.
Haley Carter is a writer and speaker who has been blogging for the past three years. She shares from her life experiences in order to challenge and inspire people to find freedom in their own lives. She loves to write about relationships and encourages people to find greater healing through them. Whether it be a relationship with themselves, their spouse, their children, or their friends she believes that relationships hold the keys to our healing. Find out more at RedemptionUnveiled.com.
A huge THANK YOU to Haley for helping out with my Love Series! I asked Haley to help with this series because I know many of my readers are mothers, but right now I am not. So, I wanted this topic to be covered by someone with first-hand experience. Be sure to to check out Haley’s blog at the link in the paragraph above!