No Real Road Map

USAatlas2 copy

My wife absolutely loves maps. Her dad loves maps. And somehow even though we have navigation apps on our phones she still reaches for that massive road atlas that takes up the entire front seat on trips. I wish I had something that big and clear today, cause I’m out of map. I was just getting a feel for parenting and then our girls became grown ups. What’s up with that? My screensaver still portrays them as little cherubs, but reality displays a very different picture. I think they still need me, but at this point, I need to be invited in. And frankly, I’m not sure how well I’m doing with all of this. If I had to place the “you are here” arrow over the map of our parenting, I’d be hard pressed to know exactly where to put it.


They still need me, but at this point, I need to be invited in.

Years ago a friend of mine shared three stages of parenting that have served as guideposts for me and my wife along the way. The three stages are Controller, Coach and Consultant.
When those little rascals first come home from the hospital someone needed to take control. They needed it for their physical well being as well as their emotional stability. Though they balked at control and pushed the boundaries in those growing up years, they experienced safety and security that came only from knowing someone was is in the driver’s seat, and it was not them.
Under your oversight and supervision you lighten the grip a bit and allow them the space to make choices and decisions, and experience the consequences for themselves – good and bad. We always prayed that if our girls were going to fail, that they would do so while they were still living in our home, where we could help them discover grace and reset, rather than have that freedom for the first time in college where their greatest source for wisdom would be other 18, 19, 20 year olds who themselves were figuring out life, but have all the answers.

This stage requires the greatest shift in parenting. Going from an initiation to a response mode. Rather than directing, and asserting yourself into their lives and the circumstances of their world, this stage requires a parent to wait to be asked and invited in. A consultant is asked for their thoughts and opinions, they don’t just show up and offer unsolicited advice, like I did last month. We want to be an encouragement and a help to our girls in these years, and of course we would love to help them avoid the pitfalls that defined our lives when we were that age. Truth is, we have no control. To believe or to pretend otherwise will only serve to frustrate. So the motive must find sanity in reality. The developing motive for me in this stage of parenting is influence.

The developing motive for me in this stage of parenting is influence.

It is not as simple as 1, 2, 3 and there are obviously transitions between each of these stages.  Though the transitions are tricky, as much for the parent as they are for the child, we must be committed to navigate them the best we can so that our children will become responsible adults who are able to function and live independent mature lives. Moving from controller to coach was one thing, but consultant? I am still trying to figure this one out. There is no real map for this. So I am observing those who have traveled this road before me in curiosity and desperation. I am working diligently to remain engaged with my adult children as they make decisions that are theirs to make. That’s easier said than done. And I am praying more for them now, than ever before.