Stage 4 of Parenting: The Consultant

We are now in part four of a six-part series on the skill of staged-based parenting. We talked about the comforter stage, the coach stage, we just finished talking about the counselor stage last time and now we’re in the consultant phase. This is from ages 17 to 25. This is what oftentimes feels like the scariest moment for parents, because this is when you will really see what kids decide about their trajectory. And even when they do decide, it certainly doesn’t mean it’s a forever decision, but you often times see the consequences of whatever decisions they’re making. I’m sure there’ll always be mixed.

And we’ve got a couple of kids in this stage right now. And as a family team and the older you get, especially as you get past 18, you guys are going to start to see our perspective on parenting really diverge from, I think, what the modern Western perspective on parenting is. The modern Western idea of parenting is basically the nest version of parenting, where really there’s not a lot of responsibility or clear pathways to what it means for the family after about 18 years old. Usually the expectation from our culture is that you have to sort of let your kids fly and you’re done, you’re really done. I do not think you are ever done because you’re building a family and you’re not just raising chicks in a nest. And that’s why that analogy really breaks down at a stage like this.

But I would say in terms of independence, this is probably the peak of it, is really during this stage. Because you do definitely want to see how your kids respond. The style in this stage is low interference, high invitation. The goal is to provide strategic guidance. And when we say low interference, high invitation, what this stage often looks like is that your kids really need to sort of complete, really, a part of their own personal journey during this stage, before they begin to raise their family, get married, really make lifelong decisions about where they’re going to live, what kind of family they’re going to raise, all those things. And so, a lot of the internal work is being done in this season.

And so, what often happens and what we’ve seen with our kids during this season, is we need to have invitations out for them to engage in things that the family team is doing, but also be really, really designing that in such a way that they can leave and go on kind of independent trips and independent opportunities where they’re learning things outside the family. And so, obviously in our culture, for a lot of people that’s college. For our kids, they do some college, but they also do a lot of other kinds of trips. Kelsey, for example, went to Israel to stay with an Orthodox family for three months. And we have other kind of experiences that we’ve been encouraging our kids to go out and have during this stage.

And so, you see a lot of that going out and coming in and going out and coming in. And so, you kind of will need to design your family in such a way that that journey in and out is possible for them, so that you can give that strategic guidance when it’s really needed, but that your kids are also really having the opportunity to explore and to make a lot of those internal, heavy decisions about their life in a larger context. Because they’re really going to need that for their life. So, this has been a challenging thing as we get past the age of 18, a lot of it feels like we have to go to cultures where multigenerational family is more the norm to learn what parenting looks like during these stages, as opposed to the Western culture, which it sort of hits the reset button every generation. That’s kind of our expectation.

But that’s how we’ve thought about this stage. You want to be kind of in that consultant position where you’re giving strategic advice and you’re available and there’s engagement possible, but you’re also definitely not wanting to do a lots of interference during this stage, in such a way that your children feel like they’re back in one of those previous stages. But yeah. Jeff, any thoughts on this one?

Yeah, no, I love that. I mean, I wouldn’t add much again, because not there. But I think the helpful pictures that I always think of that we want to be is… I forget what book it was and just reading history, there was a season in Europe, kind of around the Renaissance, Reformation, kind of around those times, where you’re having kings and queens and these royal monarchies expanding their territory and essentially, at sometimes, giving their kids their own countries. Right. It’s like they almost expanded and then because they couldn’t kind of reign and rule at all or because they wanted to reign and rule more even, they saw it actually as good stewardship to kind of give their line some of these countries. And so, they kind of had a country, then their kids were given a country. Right. But yet it’s still…

And I just think that’s a really good picture of this stage of like you’re kind of starting to begin to give your kid another country. Now again, none of us can actually do that, but it’s like you have to think about that, either with your businesses, with your resources, with stewardship, where there’s a cool blend there. Because a prince receiving a new country kind of to rule and reign is doing that fully autonomous. A new country is autonomous and sovereign, it’s theirs. It’s not their dads, it’s not their moms. Yet, obviously, because they’re raised in the king’s household, then they’re kind of trained in that way. There’s a good blend between you’re not just going out and doing something that you’ve never seen or never heard of, but you’re kind of passing it on, but it’s autonomous, you own it.

So, I don’t know exactly the language to talk about how to say that, but I think that’s a helpful picture for us of what we want to try to do in that stage. Right. And so, I think that helps the… Because you kind of see two problems. One, you see the just kick them out and just kind of, like you said, the nest and just send them off and then you never see them again and there’s no connection. Or, I think sometimes, there can be too much pressure in sometimes either a religious or a homeschool environment of you have to kind of be under us and do exactly what we do or take the family business. Right?

And it’s like, no, no one’s saying that. And so, I think that’s kind of the cool blend picture that’s been helpful to us. So, we want them to still go do something that’s autonomous and sovereign of their own giftings, but yet still kind of interconnected of the kingdom and the empire that the family’s built. If that makes sense. So, I don’t know if that’s helpful, but it’s been helpful to us.

Yeah. And as you see your kids beginning to put down roots, they’re ready to take more responsibility, they get married, they start having kids, they take out a mortgage, they are ready to start a business or start a career path, that’s usually when we begin to transition to the next stage.

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