When my grandma passed away last year, we read a favorite Bible passage of hers from Ecclesiastes 3, which begins, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Parenting is like a magnifying glass of that truth. From babyhood to adulthood, our children are constantly changing: physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. And every one of those seasons has a purpose in a child’s life. In the beginning they are completely dependent, needing us for food, clothing, bathing, consistent naps, etc.; the list is almost endless. But with each new stage, they are slowly and steadily becoming less dependent on Mom and Dad and more and more independent. As parents, we need to be intentional as we guide our children through each season so that they will grow steadily toward a life that honors God.
We’re finding out what the change in season looks like for our middle years daughter. We have weathered the training years and are now moving into the next phase, where we are guiding her to make her own decisions based on the moral warehouse we’ve been filling in her heart the last ten years. And, let me tell you, the training years now look like a cake-walk! Just when we had a handle on that, the game took a major shift and we’re on our knees like never before, asking the Lord to guide us and give us wisdom as we parent this new age. We’re facing a lot of new challenges. But the best part is, we’re not surprised or shocked by what we’re seeing as she grows, changes, and transforms from a little girl into a young lady. God has been EVER so faithful to us over these last years to provide the principles, the tools, and the community that is guiding us biblically through every stage of parenting, from pregnancy to adulthood.
- The Principles – The Middle Years study that GFI created many years ago was our starting point, but more recently we were able to watch the updated version that teaches about all the new cultural pitfalls that we’re now facing, from the digital age to the LGBTQ movement. It also gave us a good idea of what behaviors and attitudes are common for kids in the 8-12-year-old range, which is good because I think they would have really thrown us for a loop if we hadn’t had an awareness of what to expect.
- The Tools – The “funnel” is a tool we learned about when our kids were toddlers, but it has just grown in importance as our kids get older. Parents either allow too many freedoms (which creates chaos) or none at all (which creates exasperation). We have learned that when the funnel is used properly, it keeps our daughters in developmental harmony. Then, we as parents can give and take freedoms and responsibilities with discernment and confidence.
- The Community – When things started to shift for our oldest daughter, we began asking questions of other seasoned GFI parents who had already weathered these changes. We have a host of couples available to answer the myriad of questions we have. Beyond that, we have a local community of support: friends who are in the trenches with us, supporting us with prayer and encouraging words. Most of all, our community points us back to Scripture and to Christ to be our strength in parenting and all of life.
We’re far from finished, but when we entered this new stage, we didn’t have to worry because we were already prepared to face it. Growing Families International has been the life-line that God provided to help us with every season of parenting.