An Intentional Parenting Strategy for Andy and Sandra Stanley

Dad is driving, Mom is in the passenger seat, and two children are in the back seat as they all go on a trip together

Before my husband, Andy Stanley, and I even had kids, someone told us about four general stages of parenting — how parents should interact differently with their children as they grow up. This turned out to be an incredibly important framework for us.

Recognizing the stages

Here’s an overview of these relational directions:

Discipline years

(parenting 0- to 5-year-olds)

During this stage, we began to teach our kids that there are consequences for their behavior.

Training years

(parenting 5- to 12-year-olds)

For this age group, we also concentrated on putting the why behind the what of our family’s rules and expectations.

Coaching years

(parenting 12- to 18-year-olds)

Parenting happens a bit more through our advice from the sidelines, while the relationship moves toward connecting, rather than correcting.

Friendship years

(parenting adult children)

As adults, we enjoy one another’s company and process life together.

 Many times Andy and I referred back to this framework to remind us to adjust everything from daily routines to methods of discipline as we encouraged our kids to progress toward more independence and responsibility.

How this looked

In those early discipline years, when one of our kids didn’t obey and ran through a crowded parking lot, correcting bad choices happened immediately. During the training years, more explanations were given along with the correction. By the time we reached the coaching years, our responses to our kids’ bad choices were guided through conversation.

These stages were our roadmap — a nudge toward giving our kids more independence and a check and balance against “helicopter parenting.” And they slowly gave us a means for giving our children a growing responsibility for their side of our relationship.

Sandra Stanley is a mom of three grown children, a foster mom and the wife of Andy Stanley, founder of North Point Ministries. She’s the author of Comparison Trap: Choosing contentment in an age of awareness, a 28-Day devotional for women.  
If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. Get it delivered to your home by subscribing for a gift of any amount.
Copyright © 2017 by Sandra Stanley 

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