A key to good parenting is to compliment what’s both age and stage appropriate. Consider this as a very basic guideline for ideal parenting at each stage of the child (Note: Next Tuesday’s blog will address the stages of the parents):
- Stage One―To provide unconditional love, nurturing, care, and safety during the first year of life.
- Stage Two―To let the toddler explore, while teaching/setting limits and minding his or her physical safety, are the principal tasks here. Most importantly (and at times most difficult), is not to act out your own frustrations and emotions—especially anger—on to your child. This period can be thought of as a trial run for when your child becomes an adolescent, a stage that’s a lot less demanding physically, but can be much more demanding emotionally.
- Stage Three―To provide a solid structure and resolve to do whatever it takes to teach those complex yet basic rules of life patiently. These are your main challenges with Stage Three children. By providing loving guidance along with appropriate discipline, children have the best possible environment to learn all about what it takes not only to fit in, but also to thrive and begin to discover their own uniqueness via early target stage hooks.
- Stage Four―To encourage self-exploration while carefully and lovingly setting limits, letting go and allowing your adolescent to make his or her own mistakes—all the while remaining a safety net and a source of love, support and guidance that he or she can turn to as needed. However, it’s also crucial to provide discipline and “tough love” whenever an adolescent child crosses the line. This could be your last opportunity to be the principal source of influence for your child.
- Stage Five―You have a certain number of years to influence your children by example. Chances are that whatever they have not learned from you—regardless of whether or not that was by choice—by the time they reach Stage Five, they will choose to learn elsewhere. So let go of any need to control their lives. Allow and honor the right of your adult children to be independent and different from you. You will command respect by doing that, without having to demand it.
- Stage Six―By the time they reach this stage, hopefully you and your children are “emotional equals.” However, you are obviously still the parent … You are parenting your children as Sixes whenever you are enjoying the process of helping them grow in their own direction … (Sadly, parents in lower stages will often have difficulty understanding and appreciating their children in the highest stages.)
- Stage Seven- You only need be proud and feel gratified for having been able to model/encourage Stage Seven behaviors as a parent at those times are when you put your own needs aside for those of your children, without inducing guilt and by teaching the values of service. To the extent that your children operate as Sevens, they have internalized those values … Respect from your children then flows back to you synergistically.
Where have you noticed that this difficult balancing act called parenting could use a tweak? You may find it helpful to use these basic guidelines to fine-tune your approach, by the stage(s) of your child(ren).