That’s what parents do. We raise children—children who will one day be adults.
Here’s the deal and why this matters so much, and actually how this whole concept even developed.
Something happens when a child enters their late elementary and middle school years. Our children naturally begin to resist authority. And if we have this parenting thing backward, what do we do? We attempt to control them even more.
How does that work for a teenager? It doesn’t.
They have more freedom in their schedules. They are stronger, bigger, scarier and smarter than they were as toddlers. They can even pretend to comply and yet do their own thing when parents are nowhere around. The biggest problem with trying to control children into their teenage years is they can completely rebel against our authority. Have you ever known that to be true of a high school or college student?
Many parents release early then try to control later. It doesn’t work. They hang out with the wrong kids. They wear the wrong clothes. They aren’t making wise decisions. The older they get the harder it is to control. At some point your parenting moves from more control to more influence. The key is to control early, things which need controlling—things like heart and character issues—then be able to release gradually as they get older and as they mature.
If you don’t do anything else in your time with your children, help them to know you love them unconditionally. That’s most important. But know you don’t accomplish this by giving into their every wish when they are young. You do it by lovingly guiding them in the right direction through discipline and correction when they are very young. When your children are older, when they need your wisdom perhaps even more, they will continue to seek your input into their life if a trust relationship has been developed.
My encouragement, especially to the parents of younger children, is to instill the values you have for your children when they are very young, while you can still have control, then move to less control and more protection of their hearts through their teenage years. If you have trained them well and they know you love them then they will continue to honor your influence over them later in life.
For more parenting tips, check out the parenting category of this blog.