My eldest son, Nathan, started driving. While it’s a risk for us to allow him to do so, we know that it’s something that’s just a natural flow of life. We need to teach him to be out there on his own.
On the other hand, Joaquin, our 5 year old is slowly learning to brush his teeth, change his clothes and tie his shoe laces by himself.
The way we parent my 17 year old is very different from how we would parent our 5 year old.
I’ve realized through the years that there are stages to parenting.
From 0-6 years old, it’s the TELLING stage.
Then from 7-12 years old, it’s the TRAINING stage.
From 13-18 years old, it’s the COACHING stage.
Then from 19 and older is the FRIENDSHIP stage.
I recognize that there’s overlap in the stages and it doesn’t happen exactly the way I’ve divided the ages but generally, it’s that way.
When they’re in preschool, we just tell them what to do.
“Brush your teeth.”
“Finish your food.”
“Take a bath.”
When they’re in elementary, we begin to teach and train so that they can do things on their own.
We teach them to do their own homework, fix their room, pick their own clothes.
When they reach teen years, we begin to release them slowly so they make their own decisions.
Then when they become fully grown adults, we hope that we become not just their coach but also life-long friends.
The goal is to release them to become independent of us and dependent on God.