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The Four Seasons of Parenting and Christian Formation (Part 2)

In part one of this two part series we considered four primary seasons parents move through as they journey with their children from birth to adulthood.  Those 4 seasons are serving, leading, mentoring and friendship.  Today I want us to consider how each of these seasons influences how we nurture our children as they grow into greater Christ-likeness. We will do so by considering four progressive statements we emphatically make to our children as we journey through each season.  Those four statements are  “I do, you watch”, “We do together”, “You do, I watch” and finally “You do”.

Season 1: Serving – “I do, you watch”

During this season the child is passive.  The parents are doing all the work.  I remember when our oldest child was born.  My wife and I were workingmegan car seat with students and very active in our church community.  We were constantly taking Megan with us to pizza parties, into other people’s homes, worship gatherings and even outreach events.  We’d often put her in her car seat and off we’d go, her big beautiful eyes always watching.  Often times she would be sleeping in her baby carrier nearby.  If she woke up she was immediately picked up by one of our friends and adorningly passed around.  As it relates to Christian formation we were saying to Megan, “We do, you watch.”  It was during this season of Megan’s development she began to learn that she was loved and belonged to a community of love.

Season 2: Leading – “We do together”Sophie in Croc

As children grow older they begin to participate in active ways in the practices that shape us.  For example a typical two year old is at the prime age to have Bible stories read to them (“I do, you watch”).  But somewhere around the age of 4-5 they want to read the words on their own.  At this point we say to our kids, “We do together.”  During the elementary  years parents need to take their child by the hand and lead them, pointing out the goodness and grace of God everywhere they see it.  One of the things we did when our kids were ages 2, 4, 6 and 8 was take them on a missional journey to Croc Mexico.  While there we all learned and served together.


Season 3: Mentoring –  “You do, I watch”

As pointed out in part one, the adolescent years are often marked by a time of separation or distance betweenLogan Camp the parent and child.  This “pulling away” by the child can be extremely hard on parents.  However, it can be helpful to realize and understand the child needs space in order to make their faith their own.  Being present with your child during these years looks different than when they were 5 but is no less important.  During this season of their Christian formation things like a youth group, coaches, teachers, and other loving adults become increasingly important in order to supplement what you have been modeling and teaching.  As they “pull away” from you these other caring adults can fill in the gaps.  During this season you must trust in the relationship you have been nurturing since the day they were born.  Look for opportunities to ask questions that will help your child name and recognize what they have been experiencing “on their own.”  One of the most formative experiences our son has had was going away with a bunch of friends to Youthfront Camp.  He was away from us for an entire week, but God and other adults who loved and cared for him were present.  His love for God and others exploded that week.

Season 4: Friendship  – “You do”

Best FriendsAs your child reaches their later adolescent years they own their faith.  It is a tremendous joy to watch them love and serve God because they want to.  The very practices they watched you do 15 years ago, you now watch them do. Imagine, they are being shaped more by the Word’s way than the world’s way.    They care about the poor and they love their neighbors as well as their siblings. While far from being perfect, they are free and flourishing.  They have grown up into the person God intended them to be.  And your heart is full and filled with gratitude for you realize it is all a gift.


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