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Parenting With A Purpose: Season Spoke

BIBLICAL BASIS – What does God say about this topic?

Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To every thing there is a season, a time and every purpose under the heaven.”

Ephesians 6:4, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

1 John 2:12-14, “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked on, I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.”

 Proverbs 29:21, “He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at the length.”

Definitions:

Season: A time characterized by a particular circumstance or feature or a suitable or natural time or occasion.

Parenting Seasons:1

  • Season of Being a Servant – Provide love and nurture building to the Season of Authority.
  • Season of Authority – Increase in structure, consistency, and expectations which builds to the Season of Mentoring.
  • Season of Mentoring – Increase in instruction, guidance, and support which builds to the Season of Friendship.
  • Season of Friendship – Decrease in authority and responsibility for meeting child’s needs while increase in friendship and mutual respect which leads to healthy family units that can serve in the church family and bring glory to God.

What purpose does this concept have in the parenting wheel?

The Journey of Parenting: The concept of parenting seasons brings milestones to the journey of parenting. It brings awareness to where you are as a parent based on the ages of your children and where you would like to go as they mature. It also brings awareness to your children’s needs at different seasons of life and the parent’s role in meeting those needs.

APPLICATION– The act of putting something to a special use or purpose.

What does this concept look like in “real life” mode?

Discerning Your Parental Role: In “real life,” parenting does not move smoothly from one season to another, nor do parents stay exclusively in one season. Instead, look at the seasons of parenting as a general guide to what your child will need from you at different stages of their development. Parents need to ask God for wisdom and discernment so they are able to move from one parental season to another based on the specific needs of a situation. Clearly, a child over the age of two will still need his parents to move into the Servant Season from time to time. Likewise, a five year old child will need his parents to occasionally move into the Mentoring Season and not stay solely in the Authority Season. Parents who are aware of their role and their child’s needs will have greater clarity of where to focus their energy in what is often the very draining and confusing journey of bring up a child. Of course, this becomes more challenging when parenting multiple children who will need you to be in different seasons. For example, parents may have a newborn child who needs a Servant while their young child needs a parent in the Authority Season. Being able to navigate these very different seasons is challenging but necessary.

Description of the Seasons of Parenting:

Servant Season (Ages 0-2): In the servant season, a parent’s role is to serve the child by providing for his basic needs. A child will not survive infancy without consistent, direct intervention from parents. It is important that mothers and fathers know their role and fulfill it. This season can be extremely demanding on mothers and fathers alike. It is wise for parents to make an effort to exercise the love detailed in 1 Corinthians 13 through the blessings and challenges of caring for an infant. During this season, parents work to establish bonds, build connections, trust, language, and security. This is done through activities such as changing diapers, feeding, clothing, talking, playing, and singing.

Authority Season (Ages 3-12): This season is the parent’s prime time to establish the foundation of obedience through intentional and purposeful training and instruction (Deuteronomy 6). In today’s society it can be difficult for parents to shift from the Season of Servant to the Authority Season. One reason this shift is difficult for some is because they have bought into the belief that a “good parent” is someone who helps their child avoid all disappointment and hurt. When this is the primary goal of parents, they are not able to adequately step into the Authority Season. Shifting into the Authority Season will only take place if the parents make a shift themselves and begin to give age-appropriate responsibilities to the child. This transition takes work and intentional action. In this season, parents are building a framework of right and wrong for the child. Many directives and explanations will be given with the hope of developing principles and the joy of Biblical obedience, not just a list of rules.

The following are some examples: Please get your shoes. Please write Grandma a thank you. Please tell me the truth about the scratch on the car. Please do your chores before riding your bike.

Mentoring Season (Ages 13-18): During the Mentoring Season, the parent’s role falls heavily into leading and instructing the child towards managing the future expectations of adulthood. It is a unique time of stretching the need to grow in responsibilities while maintaining an anchor of willingness to still receive counsel and advice. It is important for the parent to have a clear understanding of the differences between preferences and moral absolutes so they can lead and instruct in the way of truth. Preferences are personal choices that everyone has the right to make. Examples include a favorite color, food, or way to relax. It cannot be said that someone’s preference is wrong. People may disagree, but neither is wrong. However, moral absolutes are defined in Scripture and are true for all people, at all times, and at all places. For example, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” is an absolute. Parents need to guide their children by helping them learn and discern the difference between absolutes and preferences. In modern society many people believe that there are no moral absolutes and that personal preferences rule. This belief clearly does not square with Scripture. Parents need to discern when an adolescent’s behavior represents a difference in a preference from the parents’ preferences and when the issues are about biblical absolutes. One battle is worth fighting for; the other will just lead to strife.

In this season, parents are assisting their children in building their own framework for making good decisions and choices in their lives. Early on, they may make a lot of poor choices and parents may want to revert back to telling them what they should be doing rather than discussing and allowing them to experience the rewards/consequences of their choices. However, it is essential that they are allowed to learn from the “law of reaping and sowing” in this stage of their lives. Galatians 6:7-8 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” 

In this stage it is important for discussion to take place that exposes the heart of the child. The scripture is clear that our words and behaviors flow from the heart, as shown in Matthew 15:18 “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man,” and Luke 6:45 “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” Therefore, changing a child’s words and actions can only come from winning the battle for the child’s heart. Consider how Christ interacted with those who opposed him. Christ typically would ask questions getting to the heart of the issue instead of engaging in a debate. This approach made those Christ interacted with consider their own heart and motives.

The following are examples of questions that could help address a child’s heart.

o     Is what you are doing obeying or disobeying one of God’s commandments?
o     Is what you are doing honoring to God?
o     Where does that choice lead you?
o     What can be learned from that experience?
o     What is an appropriate time for us to agree on you coming home?
o     What has led you to make that decision?
o     What were you hoping to accomplish?

Friendship Season (Ages 18+): Finally, the Friendship Season is where the parent-child relationship looks more like that of fellow peers. Here parents are enjoying and building a lifelong friendship of transferring wisdom and counsel to the next generation. Parents’ relationships with children at this stage likely consist of asking questions, challenging, encouraging, listening, offering counsel, and so on. The difference is in the authority parents have in those interactions. The Bible is clear about children obeying and honoring (Ephesians 6:1-2) their parents. The Bible is also clear that as children grow into adults they are responsible and accountable for their actions (Ezekiel 18:20). These verses point to the concept of growth in children’s lives from obeying and being under the authority of parents to becoming accountable for their own actions.

The previous parenting seasons (Servant, Authority, and Mentor) point to and prepare children for adulthood when they become more independent from their parents. In the majority of cases, children will grow into adults that live separate, but connected, lives from their parents. This is what the friendship season encompasses. While some may choose a different word than friendship to describe this season, it is a good goal to have in mind as the children move toward becoming adults. In this season, parents ask questions more as peers rather than authority figures, although parents are still authority figures in their lives. Bringing them up to walk in God’s ways will make them wise and bring blessings to the relationship.

Proverbs 15:20, “A wise son maketh a glad father: …”

Proverbs 23:24-25, “The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice.”

 Proverbs 27:11, “My son, be wise, and make me heart glad, that I may answer him that reproacheth me.”

How does this concept benefit children?

From Child to Adult: Parenting through the four seasons encourages growth for the child and leads him toward becoming a healthy, functioning, independent adult. This is a process that goes through numerous transitions. Unless parents make a shift in their own behavior and parenting, a child can become stuck and not effectively move through the stages of growth.

Right Training at the Right Time: Proverbs 22:6 encourages parents to “Train up a child in the way he should go . . . .” It is important for parents to have the wisdom to know what this training looks like. Recognizing a child’s personality and developmental stage will help parents train their child in the most appropriate way for that time in the child’s life.

Accepting Who God Created Them to Be: Parents can provoke a child to anger if they have hopes/expectations that are not appropriate for who God has created their child to be. Awareness of parental seasons and moving through them effectively can help prevent this from occurring. By not stepping into (or out of) the role your child needs, you will frustrate him. Knowing what your child is capable of at his age is important to appropriately “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Parents are doing their child a huge disfavor when they do not recognize and appreciate who their child is. Parents often have hopes, dreams, and expectations for their child that are not in line with who God has created that child to be. This might come out in a parent’s career wishes, academic expectations, interests, etc. for their child. God has created each child with unique gifts, talents, abilities, temperament, and interests. Parents who do their best to facilitate a child’s growth in line with who the child is will bless the child and enjoy watching him thrive.

Recap of Parental Role and Desired Product of Parental Seasons:

Servant – Provide love and nurture building to the Season of Authority.
Authority – Increase in structure, consistency, and expectations which builds to the Season of Mentoring.
Mentoring – Increase in instruction, guidance, and support which builds to the Season of Friendship.
Friendship – Decrease in authority and responsibility for meeting child’s needs while increase in friendship and mutual respect which lead to healthy family units that can serve in the church family and bring glory to God.

PERSONAL REFLECTION – How am I doing in this area?

Make a list of the names and ages of each of your children. Identify what season of parenting you are in with each of your children. Then write what you enjoy and what you find challenging about each of those parental seasons.

Depending on each parent’s personality and background, transitions between some seasons may be more difficult than others. Look at the seasons and consider which will likely be most challenging for you and why. Here are some things to consider if you are not sure which seasons may be more challenging than others.

Which of the seasons sounds most and least appealing to you: servant, authority, mentor, friend?
Which season best describes your mother: servant, authority, mentor, friend?
Which season best describes your father: servant, authority, mentor, friend?

Are you stuck in a season of parenting that requires a parenting shift into a different season?

How will you prepare for or begin transitioning to the next season, as appropriate?

____________________________

References

  1. J. Rosemond, Parenting By the Book: Biblical Wisdom for Raising Your Child (New York: Howard Books, 2007).

For Further Information:

The Season Of Grandparenting
This article explores the role of grandparents as a godly influences in the lives of their grandchildren. [ACCFS]