31-Day Parenting Devotion
FROM ZERO TO ADULTHOOD
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
The parenting goal is to release your child into adulthood as an individual living under God’s authority for His glory. This parenting process happens in three stages.
- Dependent Stage – 0 to 2
- Interdependent Stage – 2 to 22
- Independent Stage – 22+
Each stage is a window of time that flexes depending on the child, parents, and situations that reveal how a child is maturing through each stage.
For example, some children will be independent long before their twenty-second birthday. Others will live with their parents long after their twenty-second birthday. The stages are suggestive, not binary.
From birth to the two-year mark, a child is dependent on the parents (or guardians). An infant can do little as far as taking care of himself. Even as early mobility begins, he does not have the mental or physical capacity to take care of himself.
By the time a child is two years old, his ability to explore the world around him surpasses his mental and physical capacities. The combination of limited intelligence and ever-increasing independence converge to create a stage of life that provide parents incredible opportunities to lead their child.
This stage is the time to lay the groundwork for heart characteristics that will shape his heart for the rest of his life. A few of those “core traits” are humility, honor, integrity, submission, obedience, honesty, discretion, love, serving, and self-control.
A two-year old’s boundless energy and capacity to learn provides the proactive parent a pliable student for learning what it means to be Christlike.
As the child migrates from the dependent stage, the parent works at redrawing the lines by expanding the responsibilities for what the child should be doing and what the parent should be doing.
This “redrawing-expansion-process” continues throughout the child’s life. The objective is always to be moving responsibilities away from the parents and to the child. Like a time-released-capsule, the parent is incrementally releasing the child into God’s world to live under His authority.
You will do nearly all the parental heavy lifting before the child is 12-years old. The teenage years are more about affirming or adjusting the prior parental work from the previous decade.
Like slow setting cement, his manner of living (Ephesians 4:22) is in place, as he experiences an inward and increasing compulsion to do life independently.
- The first half of the interdependent stage (2 to 12) is the parent’s primary work in the child’s heart.
- The last half of this time (12 to 22) is when the parent motivates the child to continue as he is or try to repair the brokenness.
Most of the time it’s a combination of the two.
- The child is mostly okay, and the parent is leading him to maturity (Hebrews 10:24-25).
- Or the child is mostly bad, and the parent is looking for reinforcements through intervention, hoping the child does not totally bankrupt his life.
This final stage is releasing your child into God’s world as an individual under His authority. There is no perfect release age; each child and situation are different. The independent years do not mean a parent stops parenting, but their roles in the child’s life dramatically change.
Time to Parent
- What stage best represents your child?
- How are you maturing your child through that stage?
- What is one goal that will help him be more mature within his current stage?
- What is your plan to implement this aim?
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Also published on Medium.