Stage 2 of Parenting: The Coach

Part two of a six part series on stage-based parenting. We just talked about the stage of being a comforter, stage one, the style of low stress, high presence. And Jeff mentioned that you always know when you’re leaving that stage because the baby starts to exert independence. They start to drop the sippy cup.

Testing, curiosity.

One of our kids actually very clearly verbally was leaving the stage when every single time we tried to help her do anything, she said, “Do it myself, Mama. Do it myself.”

Yeah, exactly. That’s another sign.

That’s a great moment. You should not be like, “Oh, I got to beat the defiance out of …” No, that’s awesome.

Let them do it themselves and fail terribly.

That’s right. And this is a moment where you get to train your kids because they’re really interested in learning things, and so you want to really engage. And so what we call the goal of this stage, to train them up. And this is really the stage that most people, when they think about parenting in general, they often times think of this stage. We call this the coach stage. So the first one’s comfort and the second one is coach. This is usually age two to 12.

And so this is a time where your kids are really sort of more simple. They really respond well to consistency. Now, they’ll fight you on that stuff, but they’re constantly considering the world in a much more concrete way than they will in the future stages. And so you want to take advantage of that by creating really good boundaries, really good guardrails, really good systems. Those things tend to work, or if they don’t work, they tend to help your child, even though they might really push up against those guardrails. That’s just a part of the stage and it’s really good because your children will really learn what is fairness. They are very interested in fairness, justice at this stage.

And I think about this stage often as this is the place where their heart is being prepared for the gospel, because there’s a great verse I think about when I think about this stage in Galatians. Paul says that, “The law was our tutor to bring us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.” And so a lot of what’s happening is laws are being passed, so to speak, in these systems and different ways in which you’re leading the family and you’re trying to train your child, and those laws are going to bring them to Christ. It’s like a tutor that helps them really understand that, yeah, justice is real. And also they’ll understand grace a lot better, especially in the next stages if you’re really good and consistent at training your kids in this stage. But Jeff, you guys are also in the thick of this one. What are you thoughts about it?

Yeah, totally. Just to put ages on this one, I don’t know if we’re saying it audibly for those listening, but the first one is zero to two, this one we put two to 12. So out of the next five or six stages we talk about, this one is probably the biggest gap, meaning the two year old is radically different from the 12 year old, yet it still is the same thing. And I think it comes down to what are you training and coaching them in.

So it’s the same phase and same stage, but you just have to ask yourself, “What am I coaching them in in that stage?” And so I think there’s almost like micro-stages in this of every threeish years. I would say two to five, three to five, that’s the first stage of coaching and training, and that’s almost, I think, training them just to obey your voice. Your voice has commands and authority in the house, but your voice also represents gentleness, beauty, kindness, goodness, kind of like the orbiting force.

And I think it’s also training them to understand they can control themselves. If I look back on the two to five years, it’s mostly just training our kids to be like, “No, I believe you are more powerful, stronger, more resilient, and more emotionally capable in this moment than you think you are.” Now, of course, still being realistic, and of course the classic can’t reason with a terrorist or a toddler or whatever. That’s true, but calling them up into that I think is those first three years.

Then we’re in the next stage now, like five to eight, five to nine. We’re there with our oldest right now that I would say is almost … The way I would put that one is almost like teaching wisdom of, “Okay, you obey my voice now,” but now we’re starting to go into the spirit of coaching and the spirit of training, which is like, “Hey, don’t try to test my rules in the sense of butting up against it, doing the minimal with … ” I’m trying to get her to do it gratefully, joyfully, fully, and be wise, make decisions that might be according to the letter of the law, but are not wise.

And then I don’t know about the nine to 12, because we’re not there yet, but I would think even similar drilling down of that. So I don’t know if you would follow that up with any final thought, Jeremy, but that’s what I would say is just coaching, coaching, coaching, training, training, training, drills. What do you want your household to be like? And then kind of having those micro-stages I think is the important part.

Yeah. And the forward style of this stage is low apathy, high justice. Consistency is really key. And guys, if you’re going to have a lot of consistency during this stage, this is going to require you to think a little more about these systems and make sure that you’re present to make sure they’re implemented, not just handing them off to your wife or someone else. Make sure that you’re there and you’re constantly calibrating whatever sort of trainings you’re doing in order to match, exactly what Jeff was saying, the stage that your children are at.

So this is where a lot of parenting tactics tend to work. Where we’re headed next is a little bit more of the Wild West. So I’m excited to talk about that, but this is the coaching stage.

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