Parenting is a lifetime appointment. The fact that you are a parent remains regardless of your child’s age. However, the stages of parenting change as our children get older.
Know What Parenting Stage You Are In
Here’s how I title and describe those stages.
1. Instructor and Protector: In this role, our primary responsibilities are to keep them safe, healthy, and teach them everything from how to walk, eat, dress themselves, ditch the diapers and put big kid pants on, how to study, play sports, etc. And as Christian parents we are the primary disciple makers of our kids.
2. Coach: This stage comes along at about the age of 13-15, depending upon your child’s level of maturity. At this point you’re helping them develop and hone the skills they’ve learned. Whether it’s sports, academics, friendship, or other talents and abilities they have or enjoy. There is a small amount of instructing here, but primarily coaching.
3. Consultant: It’s a lifetime, on-call position that begins as your child graduates high school. A good consultant asks the right questions whenever they meet with those with whom they consult. Doing this gives you opportunity, and usually permission, to speak into your kid’s lives. As with any good relationship, your children will reach out to you when they are stuck or need direction. The key to having this relationship with your kids begins at Stage 1. This consultant’s role as a parent is earned.
3 Key Ingredients for a Wonderful Relationship with Your Kids
I’m learning how to be a better dad every day because I still make mistakes every day. The greatest reflection of how I’m doing as a dad is looking into the lives of our three daughters, now ages 24-30. My wife and I are very blessed to have a fantastic relationship with our kids. There is 100% trust in both directions. It wasn’t always that way, but God has taught us all some hard lessons in the midst of our many mistakes.
I’ve heard it said that the greatest gift a father can give his children is to love their mother. This truth is worth etching deeply in your mind, men. As we learn how to foster deep and lasting relationships with our children, they learn from what we model to them. Here are three key characteristics I’ve learned to develop and model that have led to incredible relationships with my daughters.
Cliché, but so cherished. Make sure your children know they are loved, no matter what. They must also understand that this type of love does not condone bad behavior. Part of loving your children is discipline. Yes, discipline. The writer of Hebrews tells us in chapter 12 verse 11, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Rightly given discipline, loves.
In the love we have for our children we continually learn to speak and demonstrate it. It seems as through we’ve made progress. To quote one of our girls, “Your guys love is truly limitless and unconditional. No amount of miles, no barrier, no door could keep you from loving us to the core of your soul.”
God gave that kind of love for our children to my wife and me. It’s how God loves His children. That love grew significantly in my life after Christ began to set me free from my 30-year addictive battle with pornography. I began to see more clearly what love, in its purist form, really looks like.
Be there for your children no matter what the circumstance, so they know that everything will be ok. That does not mean the pain will subside or consequences for bad choices will vanish. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be or won’t be angry, disappointed, or feel like you don’t know what to do next. That’s going to happen, or for some of you, you may be in the midst of that as you read this.
However, when you combine unconditional love and reliability you will develop a trust between you and your children. We’ve not parented perfectly by any means. What we have created is a family dynamic whereby our kids know they can tell us anything without fear of judgment or condemnation. Reliability creates that trust between parent and child.
If you expect your children to be totally honest with you, you need first to be honest with them. Honesty takes a number of forms in the child/parent relationship. It means confessing mistakes and apologizing for it. It means saying you’re sorry and meaning it. Sometimes it means sharing your deepest hurts. What I’m talking about in a single word is transparency. All this has to be done at maturity and age appropriate levels of course, but it is crucial.
The day I told our oldest daughter about my pornography addiction was one of the most difficult days of my life. I knew it was time when she asked my wife, “Is everything going to be ok?” and, “Are you and daddy going to stay together?” When my wife shared those words with me, my heart tore wide open–again.
What I feared most about sharing my addiction struggle with our daughter never materialized. She was hurt and frightened, yet in my honesty with her and the promise that I was not going anywhere, trust and hope began to grow between her and I. And oddly enough, it helped our marriage heal.
An Encouragement for Fathers
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” –Ephesians 5:25
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” –Ephesians 6:4
“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” –Colossians 3:21
These verses have come to be the true north on my compass for me as a husband and a father. If you and I can learn in increasing amounts to live these teachings out, we will honor God first and then our wives and children.
That fact that your reading this post on the Covenant Eyes blog indicates you or someone you love and care about has a struggle with pornography at some level. Porn will kill your relationships, and not just with your wife, but also your children.
Porn is too big an enemy to fight alone. I know first hand. The enemy is out to steal, kill and destroy. I stared suicidal thoughts square in the face when I hit rock bottom. I believed all hope for restoration of my life and family to be lost. That was 2004. By God’s grace and godly friends, I am free, and my family is whole and marriage flourishing. Jesus came to set the captives free, of which this previous captive is beyond thankful!
Reaching out for help is the first step to quit watching porn. There are many good ministries and organizations to help you along the way. You won’t, or shouldn’t, be shamed in the process. Help is a phone call, e-mail, or even a text away. The relationship with your kids is worth the fight.