This past Sunday as we continued in our Proverbia series, I talked about “The Home Front” (you can listen to the audio here). We looked at the Proverbs’ wisdom for marriage and parenting. As a practical application for parents, I shared the “Roles of Parenting.” As our children grow toward adulthood, our roles as parents change. I am indebted to my friend Joe McGinnis, Pastor of Community & Family Formation at a church in Cleveland, who shared this model with me.
Our goal (represented by the top line) is to grow and then launch (not physically) kids who love Jesus. So what roles do we play in the different seasons of our kids’ lives (represented by the bottom line)?
Early childhood = PROTECT. Our role as parents of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers is to protect our children from harm and danger.
Elementary = TEACH. When our kids enter elementary school, they always want to know “why” they have to do something. Our role is to teach them. And sometimes, we’re to teach them, “Because I said so!” And it’s critical to teach them the heart of the gospel. Our kids don’t need more law, they need to be dazzled by Jesus’ love and grace.
Middle School/Junior High = MODEL. We should always model God’s heart and love. But at this point in our kids’ lives, if we don’t walk the talk, our kids see it, and we’ll be ineffective as parents.
High School = COACH. Here’s the reality. We can call the play, but once the ball is hiked, your kid is the quarterback. They’re going to do whatever they’re going to do. If they fail, as the parent coach, your job is to help pick them up, dust them off, talk through what happened and how they can run the right play and make a better choice next time.
College & Young Adult = MENTOR. At this point in our kids’ lives, we’re mentors. And to be a mentor, we have to be invited into that role.
You’ll notice that conflict tends to happen between parent and child when the parent is often (but not always) holding on to the former role and hasn’t transitioned into the new role.
Which role has been the greatest challenge for you? Have you struggled with moving to the next role as your kids have grown and matured?