One of the questions I’ve been asked most by parents goes something like this. “Can you help me connect with my 12-year-old daughter?” or “I just don’t get it, we use to be so close. What happened?”
The way we approach parenting our children need to change from child to child and as each child get’s older. This is one of the things that can make positive parenting so challenging. Just as we think we have it figured out, our kids change.
But isn’t that what you were going for? A kid who is maturing and changing into the productive adult God desires them to be?
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a road map or some guidelines on “how” we should be parenting our kids as they grow older? Well, there is.
One of the things I’ve been able to document about kids over my years of working with thousands of youth in summer camp is the developmental and relational changes they go through from one age group to another. I’ve literally seen an entire generation grow up; one week at a time, once per year, year after year. And, I’ve seen trends in age gouging that I’m now applying to my own parenting.
Here is a brief overview of the five stages of parenting. I’ve adopted the wording of each stage that I heard Andy Stanley use.
Birth to approximately 1 year.
Connecting. It’s important in the first several months for parents and kids to connect. A baby cries, and get’s comforted. A baby has every need met by a parent. A baby cries again and get’s comforted. This cycle continues and the child realizes that mom and dad are there for them. Mom and dad will take care of their needs. Mom and dad love them. Mom and dad make life safe. Mom and dad will be there.
Ages 1 to 5.
Discipline. Laying down a foundation of cause and effect will help your kids believe you when they are older and you tell them; “this relationship is going to hurt.” or “that behavior is bad for you.”
Ages 6 to 12.
Training. In this stage of parenting, you’ll still be responding to and correcting behavior, but you’ll be adding in more training. Both in regards to skills, but also habits. Study habits, chores, choosing good friends, work ethic, etc.
Ages 13 to 18.
Coaching. In this stage of parenting, the name of the game is proactive vs reactive. With kids at this age, parents really want to focus on upcoming decisions vs how the school day just went.
Ages 18 and up.
Friendship. God didn’t give you kids to fill your need for companionship and friendship. That’s one reason you get married. But, once your kids are 18 or older; they should be living their life. It cracks me up to no end how many moms call me asking if I’m hiring because their 20 year old “is looking for a job”. No they aren’t…mom’s looking for a job for them. (PS. Moms, I never hire anyone over the age of 18 who’s mom or dad calls me to inquire about a job. Never.)
Have you ever been on a rollercoaster? If you have, you either hated it or loved it. Psychologists say that regardless if you desire to go on more or stay far clear of the loops and jarring twist and turns, these two very different reactions are in response to the same thing. And that is the feeling of just letting go and being at the sheer mercy of the ride.
For some of us, we love that. For others….not so much. Luckily, I’m one who loves it. Why luckily? Because I’m starting to realize how much church planting is like being on a roller coaster.
1. At Any Moment, This Ride Is Going To Come Apart
I don’t know who first said it, and I’m pretty sure it was an airplane they were talking about. But, every time I’m on a coaster (or a plane) I remember hearing; “you know, the lowest bidder got to build this thing.” Well for me, in regards to church planting….I’m on a ride that has been constructed by the creator of the Universe. In fact, a guy named Matthew recorded Jesus saying; “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” – Matthew 16:18 ESV
I’m not building me a church, I’m not building a legacy to pass on to my children. I’m working to honor God by leveraging the gifts he gave me to do what I’m created to do.
2. Act Like This Anywhere Else And Be Thrown In Jail
I’m writing this article while sitting in a Starbucks. (Here is a picture of my view) I bet, even in a Starbucks, that if I threw my hands above my head and started screaming as loud as I could that I would get the privilege of meeting some of Virginia Beach’s finest men and women in blue. (Actually….I think their uniforms are black, but you knew I meant the police.) But for me, as a church planter….I’ll follow the words of advice of David. Who, after being scolded for dancing for joy for God’s sake replied: “I’ll become even more undignified than this.”
To many of us fear what others will say. I’m sure there are folks who think Marissa and I are mad. Giving up everything we had, going all in with our money, time, talents and all of our possessions to build a church to care for people we’ve never met would, to some, seem crazy. But we do this to honor God. And I’m not even close to being done yet with what I’m willing to do for God. Short of sin….I’ll do whatever it takes.
A rollercoaster has the ability to knock you around a bit. I’ve been on some coasters that actually hurt me some. What can I say, I have a sensitive system. Well, church planting isn’t a smooth ride. In fact, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
There are so many decisions to make, so much money to raise, so much work to do, so many relationships to build, so many leaders to recruit and equip…the list goes on and on. But, like rollercoaster pain, it will be over before I know it. Sure, once the church launches January 22, 2017, the ride will change and be just (if not more) challenging. But then, in time…that ride will change.
I love different. God has gifted me with the ability to dream big. In fact, just yesterday I had an amazing conversation about the future with a couple I’ve met, Bob and Debbie. They have an amazing ministry to the homeless in Virginia Beach. And, I plan to give them as much support as Coastal City Church can….even before we launch. Anyway, Bob was sharing with me his vision for a transitional house they would like to own and run to help homeless people move from the street to self-sufficient living. I shared with him my vision for the future in regards to a church facility.
I don’t want to ever build a church. I want to see us engage the community around the “church” with a life enrichment center. I told him, I want a church that has on its street front a sandwich shop. A place where we hire those that need someone to take a chance on them. For example, what if we hired homeless people and in addition to their hours of work, we paid them an additional 2 to 5 hours per week to take life enrichment classes.
Who knows, maybe one day Coastal City Church will provide the employment and Homeland Disciples will provide the housing.
I may change rollercoasters from time to time, but I’ll never leave this “park” of church planting until God lifts the burden from my soul to reach people far from Him with the hope of the Gospel truth.
As I write this, we are in the process of getting ready to move to a new state.
It’s a lot to prepare for, and to be honest….I was starting to feel a bit overwhelmed. That is until I sat down and sketched out a plan. Putting all the “to-do’s” in sequence helped me relax. Seeing that certain things would happen, that would allow for other things to happen later helped me find focus.
This same holds true in marriage.
A lot of us believe that once the honeymoon is over, our marriage is complete. But marriage is a forever journey. It’s a complex relationship that grows and changes. Because it’s two people who hopefully grow, but for sure will change.
My wife and I didn’t want to just date forever, we wanted more for and from our relationship.
So, we got engaged. But, we still wanted more for and from our relationship….so we got married.
And today, we still want more for and from our marriage. But what is it? How do we get it?
Isn’t the sequence of marriage; Date -> Engagement -> Marriage? I mean, most people think that’s all there is to it. I know I did.
Author Jackie Bledsoe Jr and his wife Stephana have captured the stages all marriages could and should experience. I believe stagnating in any of these stages (“rings”) is the open door to failure in marriage.
Stop at one ring, and your marriage is dead.
As you read through each ring of marriage, you’ll see marriages around you and your marriage in new light. You and your spouse will have a shared and common language to use in evaluating your marriage, in fact there is a tool at the end of the book to help you with this.
Helping couples get on the same page of where their marriage is is one of the most powerful outcomes of reading this book. Once you know where you are you can decide where you want to go. Then, you can develop a plan. And in your plan, find peace and focus in your marriage journey.
Updated 12/18/2015. I first wrote this in 2013, today I update the numbers but not the content.
I want to focus my mind and heart today.
I want to focus them on my wife.
In fact, I like to think about her every day.
But today, today is special.
Not because of any specific date on the calendar.
Not because it’s an anniversary of anything.
Not because society says it’s special.
Today is special like yesterday, because today…I’m married to my best friend.
I want to think about and write down some things I love about her…things I’ve never told her.
I like to say silly things to make her raise her eyes to the sky and smile just so…I love her smile.
I love the way she rushes out of bed at the first sound of one of our kids. She’s been doing this for 5 years. She wants me to sleep so I can wake up at 5 AM and chase our dreams. I love that she sacrifices her sleep for our family.
I love watching her talk to others about our kids and parenting. She doesn’t know this, but she can’t do it without smiling. Have I mentioned that I love her smile?
I love when she puts her feet on my lap while we are watching TV and asks me to rub them.
I love how she talks about Jesus to our kids.
I love when she whispers at night just as we climb into bed, “Will you pray?”
I love how she sits at the kitchen table with her Bible and journal and studies God’s words.
I love how she experiments with recipes and tries new things for us to eat.
I love that her dreams are bigger than mine. I love that we chase them together.
I love how she cares and talks about our friends everyday.
Marissa, I love you.
Start a list like I did above of things you love about your spouse. Next time you are angry with them; get the list out and start reading through all the reasons you love them. You’ll be amazed at how this will help you.
Brag about your spouse today to someone.
Leave a new note everyday in the same place telling your spouse one thing you love about them or the two of you together.
Plan a “tell all” date. Take your spouse out on a date and tell him/her all the things you haven’t yet.
Write a letter, email, note, text message, blog post, Facebook post, Tweet…whatever…but just write something right now to your spouse. SERIOUSLY, STOP READING AND WRITE SOMETHING RIGHT NOW. Come on, write just one sentence. WHY ARE YOU STILL READING?
Call your spouse right now and tell them you love them.
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I leave this post live on this site because it’s viewed several times per day. I still enjoy knowing that people are finding this helpful in creating a fun activity for kids.
Don’t let this family fun activity intimidate you. It’s a lot easier than you might think and it’s crazy cool! Build the launcher once, and you have it for years to come. Plus, you have a built-in reason to enjoy some root beer floats. 🙂
More Than Just Fun
In addition to being fun, these activities can also do the following for you and your family.
Teach your kids about using tools
Have some quality family time enjoying root beer floats
Teach your kids how to read and follow instructions
Barrier Busters To Help Make These Activities Easier