Stages of Parenting

As you navigate the journey of raising little humans, you’ll witness their constant evolution. Just like the ever-changing weather patterns, life and parenting mirror this phenomenon. Our children go through distinct seasons, or stages, of continuous growth. And with each stage, their needs transform, placing different responsibilities on you as a parent.

Throughout the years, I’ve come across various descriptions of these stages. One that resonates with me is from Andy & Sandra Stanley, who in turn learned it from someone else. They categorize the stages into four sections – the discipline years, the training years, the coaching years, and the friendship years.

Let’s simplify these stages to understand the needs of children and the corresponding responsibilities for parents. I’ve previously written about each of these stages and have included links for additional assistance based on where you currently find yourself in your parenting journey.

1. The Discipline Years (ages 0-5)

Child’s primary needCONTROL – To grasp the concept of boundaries and consequences. These years lay the foundation for establishing who holds the reins of control. This becomes especially crucial during this developmental stage.

Parent’s primary responsibilityCONSISTENCY in teaching children about authority, setting boundaries, and shaping their worldview. Consistent, loving discipline is vital during this critical stage.

2. The Training Years (ages 5-12)

Child’s primary needGAINING UNDERSTANDING – To comprehend the reasoning behind your family’s values and expectations. Although correction is still necessary, it must be accompanied by explanations. This age is pivotal in establishing a “no question is off-limits” policy with your children, which will extend into the next stage.

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Parent’s primary responsibilitySHAPING WORLDVIEW by imparting teachings, training, answering questions, and applying faith and truth to real-life situations.

3. The Coaching Years (ages 12-18)

Child’s primary needLOVING GUIDANCE – To be guided from the sidelines, learning the practical ways to live out their faith. If the previous stages were handled correctly, this period involves less correction and discipline, and more profound connections and conversations with your children.

Parent’s primary responsibilityPRACTICAL PRACTICE – Having trained them, it’s now time to gently nudge them towards independence, allowing them to test and refine their skills, ensuring they’re prepared to stand on their own in the future. If you’ve embraced the principle of more control initially and less control later, you may enjoy early years of a fulfilling friendship in this stage.

4. The Friendship Years (the adult years)

Child’s primary needSPACE – To experience independence by making their own decisions, while receiving minimal interference from their parents. Unless they still reside at home, they are no longer beholden to you, though you’ll remain available as a source of wisdom and advice as needed.

Parent’s primary responsibilitySUPPORT – Having nurtured their character, responsibility, and a biblical worldview, it’s time to witness them soar on their own. When they seek your guidance, be there for them as a friend rather than a parent. You’ve put in the hard work, now revel in the joy of this stage.

The changing seasons of childhood demand shifts in parental responsibilities. So, which stage(s) of parenting are you currently experiencing, and what should be your primary focus during this phase?

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Approaching your role as a parent through these intentional categories provides a mental roadmap for gradually and purposefully fulfilling your responsibility – preparing your children for the relationships and responsibilities they’ll encounter in the real world.

Next week, I’ll share some tips on how to support your child, regardless of the stage they’re in. Haven’t subscribed yet to receive these insights? Click here to join our mailing list!

Are you a mom feeling overwhelmed with your current stage of parenting or simply in need of some encouragement? Check out my friend, Jenni Lahmann’s FREE 7 Day Victory Laps for Moms Course. I guarantee it will make a difference! Thumbuddy To Love

Jenni Lahmann