Oh the wonder and imagination that flows when a child is asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” As children dream of what they want to be, they don’t realize that there will be many transitions along the way. As parents we deal with those same transitions. Along this road we call parenting there are 4 phases when we need to make some transitions:
- Discipline Phase (toddlerhood to early childhood)
- Training Phase (elementary school years)
- Coaching Phase (junior high and high school)
- Friendship Phase (college age and beyond)
Sometimes as parents we get stuck in one phase because it is working and we’re reluctant to change. But we can actually harm our relationships with our children if we get stuck. For instance, it is easy to get stuck in the discipline phase. We get comfortable telling our kids what to do and expecting and receiving full obedience. But, we must move on to the training phase and work on reaching the hearts of our children, pouring into their moral warehouse so they learn how to think biblically. As they grow and mature, we need to transition again into the coaching phase – allowing them the freedom to fail and asking probing questions to make sure we’ve reached their hearts. It’s helpful to ask ourselves “When my kids grow up what do I want my relationship to look like?” The answer to that question will motivate you to move out of your comfort zone and make the necessary transitions.
When transitioning from one phase to the next, you won’t leave one behind completely. You will move in and out of two phases before transitioning completely. For example, when transitioning from training to coaching, you will give more freedoms to your teens and then pull them to the sidelines to help them make better plays in life. Your teen might make a really bad decision that reveals a gap in his training. You move right back into the training phase to take care of their heart in that situation. Attitudes of the heart are the biggest telltale sign that your child is ready to start making a transition. Attitudes of the heart are also a telltale sign that your child will waver between two phases before making a complete transition.
Your ultimate relational goal that you want to “grow up to be as a parent” is your adult child’s friend. The great part about this final transition is that if you have successfully reached their hearts, they will come to you for advice. Building relationships of trust is the goal in each of the different phases. When you build that trust and your children’s hearts are tender toward the things of God and others, then you might very well hear from your adult children “When I grow up I want to be just like my parents.”
Cynthia Schrock was born in Ohio but grew up on the mission field with her parents in Quito, Ecuador. She married her wonderful husband Eric in 1990. They have two adult children: Ashley and Matthew. In 2016 Cynthia completed a 13 year long journey of homeschooling. Eric and Cynthia have been involved in marriage and parenting ministry over 20 years. Cynthia is a Contact Mom, helping moms with solutions in their daily parenting struggles. She has also authored a book on celebrating others called The Ultimate Gift of a Birthday.