I have told my kids from the time they were little that it’s not my job as their parent to make them happy; it’s my job to teach them the values and skills they need to be fully functioning adults.
After they get over the initial shock of thinking I don’t care about their happiness (I do, it’s just not my goal for their lives to be happy), they soon realize the condition of their soul is my primary focus.
As a result, our family has many conversations about values, morals, what would you do in different situations, as well as the “why” behind the direction …, and more. I have 18 years to introduce them to their Heavenly Father, teach them to put their trust in Him, learn to listen to His voice, and grow their heart to desire to obey His Word. Trust me when I say it’s over in a blink of an eye.
Once they have moved out of our house, my role will shift to one of, hopefully, friend. I will still be there for them, but instead of instructing and teaching, I will be there to encourage, guide, and if asked, offer wisdom from my experiences.
We currently have a 19-year-old who will be moving out at the end of the summer to finish college; a 16-year-old who has three more years left here at home before she leaves the nest; and a ten-year-old entering middle school.
With the oldest, the shift from “full-time parent” to encourager has already begun. We’re still here to offer our wisdom, but he can choose whether or not to take our advice. He is still under our banner of protection, but not to the degree as his siblings. More consequences fall on his own shoulders for the decisions he makes.
Our middle child is slowly gaining more freedom, as naturally occurs, and that will continue for the next three years. There are still many discussions about values and skills, but they are taking on a different flavor than they had previously.
Our youngest is still in the thick of being parented. While he continues to gain freedom (slowly), it’s not at the level of his siblings, which is age appropriate.
My husband and my goal is that when they grow up and move out, they will desire friendship with us as much as we desire it with them. Our parenting role will be finished and we get to enjoy their wonderful personalities – adult to adult, with maybe some spouses and eventually grandchildren mixed in as well!
What is your parenting philosophy? I’d love to hear how you’re doing it, or how you did it, with your own children in the comments below.
© Cheri Swalwell 2019