Here in Switzerland students have been back in school for a few weeks. While in Canada school is just starting this week. It’s about this time of year that I get a dose of nostalgia over how fast my children have grown up. The picture below is one of my favorites, taken probably 15 years ago on the first day of school.
There are many pithy sayings about parenting and this one rings true for me, “With children, the days are long but the years are short.” As young parents we found the days very long and always seemed tired. We wanted to do our best, we wanted to give them as much as we could, and we wanted to instill in them all our values. Parents often wonder if they doing enough.
Over the years, as our children grew, we have had to change our parenting style and now we are in transition again. You have to keep adapting your parenting which is not always easy. There are four clear parenting stages:
- Nurture (ages 0-5) – At first you just let them know they are loved and wanted. Gradually you help them learn there are consequences for certain behaviors but they are safe in your care.
- Training (ages 5-12) – As they develop more abilities and can help out around the house you teach them ‘why’ we do things the way we do. You begin training them for independent thinking and action.
- Coaching (ages 12-18) – This is not an easy stage since teens like to chart their own course. You stay close and offer feedback with lots of reassurance. Boundaries remain in place even as they experience more freedom and make choices.
- Consulting (18 +) – This phase takes a while to work out as you watch your children step out on their own. You’re available for conversation and input but often they just want someone to talk things over with. It’s during this stage that you begin to find out what you did right or wrong in the earlier stages! But you never stop praying for them.
Parenting is hard work and yet we aren’t alone. We have a heavenly Father who is more than able to hear our prayers and give us wisdom. When Israel was moving forward and fearful of what might be ahead Moses said, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
Whatever stage of parenting you are in, cherish the moment, the years are short.