You must be committed as a parent to long-view parenting because change is a process and not an event.

Paul D. Tripp

It is incredibly hard in life to take the “long-view” approach to almost anything. 

It’s no secret that we live in a society where we want and expect immediate results.  When it comes to parenting, “immediate results” may be great when we are trying to find food for our children, but it does not work when we are trying to instill core values. 

You see, parenting is a process. As the familiar saying goes, it is a marathon, not a sprint. 

The ministry Focus on the Family outlined the process of parenting well in “Four Phases of Parenthood” by Bob Hostetler.

PHASE ONE: COMMANDER (benevolent dictator, total control)

In this phase, we make every decision for our children–from what they will eat to where they go and who they spend time with. Our tendency is to stay in this “commander” role.  We want to stay in control of all our children do, where they go, who they spend time with and so on.  We think this will ensure how they will turn out.  However, what we often don’t remember is that by controlling everything we hinder them from being able to develop the way they need to in order to be able to grow into godly young men and women.

PHASE TWO: COACH (clarity of choice rather than dictatorship)

When our children become elementary school age, we transition to the coaching phase.  In this phase, we give them opportunities to start making choices on their own. We begin to help clarify choices they have vs. dictating them.

PHASE THREE: COUNSELOR (moving from dependence to independence)

In the teen years parents shift into a counselor role. At this point, we are not the main influence in our children’s lives anymore. A great tactic at this phase is to ask questions. When they ask for permission to do something, instead of dictating the answer immediately, try asking them what they think we should allow them to do, and why.  We need to allow them opportunities to make choices…even if they are not what we would choose…so they can learn from their mistakes. Then, we can use the mistakes they will inevitably make as opportunities to counsel them on how to better handle the given situation next time.

PHASE FOUR: CONSULTANT (from proactively involved to patiently available)

The last phase is the most difficult one. It’s when we have to “let go”. We still want to stay involved in their lives, but we also want them to stand on their own convictions and make good choices without our presence.  We must maintain a healthy relationship so they know they can consult us when we are needed. This means trusting them to be independent adults without us around. This stage means moving from “proactively involved to patiently available.”

In this week’s chapter of Parenting, Paul Tripp reminds us that we spend far too much time turning our children into what he calls “emotional weatherman.”   He’s saying that we tend to parent based on emotional reactivity.  Depending on our mood or the particular moment, our children quickly learn to “check the weather” before they interact with us. 

This is a direct result of focusing on ourselves and our desire for control over seeing our children through God’s eyes and where they are in the developmental process. 

May we all take time to reflect on the various stages of parenting and consider how to best love our children in whatever stage they are in today. 

May God give us eyes to see the “long-view” of parenting as He has designed it.  

Hilton Head Christian Academy‘s Life+ blog was created to equip today’s Christian parents with practical tools, thought provoking content, and honest conversation.

This fall, we look forward to parenting alongside all of you through a new series based on a life-giving book by Pastor Paul Tripp: Parenting: 14 Gospel principles that can radically change your family.

Each week we will unpack them chapter by chapter right here on the Life+ blog. We hope you’ll grab a copy and dive in with us, taking time to discuss each principle with your own family and the people God has placed in your life.

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