Updated: Dec 22, 2021
Today we're talking about “The 3 R’s of Parenting.” They are “Receive, Raise and Release”. We receive our child as a gift from God. We raise them to the best of our abilities. Then we release them into adulthood.
I remember so vividly when our first born child Ashley Lynn was born. My wife and I brought her home from the hospital. We got her out of the car and brought her in the house in her portable carseat-baby carrier. She had her new outfit on and was snuggled in her baby’s blanket. She looked so cute and adorable.
We brought her in the house and sat her on the kitchen counter. I looked at my wife Laurie and said “Now what?” I’ll be completely honest. I was clueless about what it meant to be a parent. I thought they came with an Owner’s Manual like my car did or with directions like our new baby crib did but no luck. I hadn’t a clue about what to do. I’m guessing a few of you might have felt the same way.
Through this post, I’d like to give you some tools for your parenting toolbox that hopefully will help you with your parenting so you don’t feel as hopeless and helpless as I did. A disclaimer here though; there are no guarantees when it comes to parenting. As parents, we do our best and give God the rest.
Great Joy or Deepest Heartache
Parenting can carry the greatest joy and sometime the deepest heartache of anything we’ll ever do. It can be a lot like riding a roller coaster. It’s a wonderful-terrifying ride with its ups and downs and its twists and turns. We can chose to scream every time we hit a bump or put our hands up and enjoy the ride. It’s our choice. I’m hoping that this post will help you to choose to enjoy the ride.
I remember one spring evening when Ashley was in 3rd grade. My wife Laurie was a third grade teacher at the same school and Ashley had another 3rd grade teacher across the hall. We lived in town just a few blocks from school. After school, Ashley walked home with a number of the neighborhood kids.
At dinner that evening, Ashley broke down and started bawling. She said “I did something really bad”! Laurie and I looked at each other and thought “Like what? What could be
so bad that it would bring on an outburst like that?”
She said that on her way home, some of the kids from the neighborhood started throwing rocks at the school busses as they drove by and she joined in. I said “Let’s go down to the bus garage right now and apologize”. Laurie said “No, you can see that she feels really bad about what she did.” So we decided not too.
The next day, I got a call at work. It was from Laurie. She wanted me to come to her school as soon as I got out of work. As soon as work was done, I rushed to her school.
When I got to school, Laurie filled me in. The day before, someone had recognized the teacher’s kid throwing rocks at the school busses and reported it to the police. The principal had been notified and had talked to Ashley. She was a mess and had been sitting outside of Laurie’s classroom bawling her eyes out as Laurie was trying to teach her class.
As soon as I got to school and heard what was going on, I took Ashley to the bus garage to have her apologize for what she had done. It was a mess. Talk about a roller coaster ride.
We need God’s word to help transform our lives. The bible doesn’t have all the specifics on parenting but it will instruct you in what’s really important in life. Psalm 127: 1,3-5 says “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”
Crafted for War
Like I said earlier, the '3 R’s to Parenting’ is we Receive, Raise, and Release our children. The symbolism in Psalm 127 is that of an arrow that is finely crafted for war. We are crafting our children to release at the world and there is a battle raging out there.
We are raising warriors and we are in a battle that has been raging since the beginning of time. When God created Adam and Eve, the first family in his image, who showed up on the scene. Right, satan! Satan hates what God creates and got Eve and Adam to sin.
God created your family and satan hates your family too. He’ll do anything he can to ruin your marriage and your children and get you to quit as a parent. John 10:10 says “The thief (satan) comes to steal kill and destroy; I have come that the may have life, and have it to the full”. Knowing the enemies intentions will help us defend our family.
In their book “No Perfect Parents”, Dave and Ann Wilson states that there are ‘4 Parenting Stages’ while we raise our children.
Stage 1 is the Discipline Stage between the ages of 1-5.
Stage 2 is the Training Stage between the ages of 5-12.
Stage 3 is the Coaching stage between the ages 12-18.
Stage 4 is the Friendship Stage which is 18 years old and up.
We will be talking about each Stage. Notice how our parenting shifts as our children get older. You don’t use the same parenting strategies when they are 5 as when they are 15. They need to shift as your child gets older.
The Discipline Stage, Ages 1-5
Before we get started, keep in mind that there is a difference between discipline and punishment, Discipline is about training and teaching while punishment is about retribution. You always want to discipline with an attitude of loving correcting and grace. Punishment is about getting even or penalizing.
Dave and Ann share some thoughts about the Discipline Stage. Here is what they had to say. . .
*Your child is so dependent on you. It will feel like this
stage will never end, but it does.
*The first 5 years of a child’s life is probably the most
crucial. Be aware that it may not feel like your discipline training is paying off right away.
The payoff comes down the road. Keep that in mind.
*Be sure you have right boundaries with the right discipline that leads to the right training
that shapes the right attitudes.
*When children are young, set boundaries or Rules of the House.
*Once you establish the boundaries or rules, be sure to enforce them.
*The Discipline Stage may be hardest thing you will ever have to do as a young parent.
*Remember that discipline is how they learn.
*Don’t shame them by using the God card.
*Tell children that you have boundaries because you love them and that God gives us
boundaries because He loves us.
*Expect your children to challenge your boundaries.
*Remember, your children are sinners loved by God.
*When disciplining your child, try to use little emotion.
*Tell them who they really are in Christ after disciplining.
*Spell out consequences clearly when setting rules or boundaries.
*Don’t scream at them or count down. This teaches your children to disregard boundaries.
*Consequences should be a loss of privileges or time-out.
*Consider spanking as a last resort consequence.
Dave and Ann share these guidelines on spanking. . .
*Spanking is always done in love, never in anger.
*Spanking should be rare.
*If you do spank, you need to be in control of your emotions.
*Be sure child has clear understanding of wrong.
*Tell them you love them and want the best for them.
*Make it quick.
*Talk about it afterwards and pray together.
Boundaries and Discipline
Here are some guidelines when setting boundaries and giving discipline from Dave and Ann.
*Be consistent with discipline when boundaries are crossed.
*When giving rules, be sure you have their attention. Touch their shoulder or hand as
explaining. Then have them repeat it to you.
*Avoid a heavy environment of boundaries.
*Don’t yell. Yelling usually becomes normal and you’ll have to escalate past yelling to get
*Trust God. Keep watering, cultivating, weeding, and waiting for growth.
Miss the Mark
What to do when you miss the mark by Dave and Ann. . .
*You will blow it. When you do, apologize to your child.
*Lead by example. Be humble when you are wrong and ask
your child for forgiveness. This teaches your child an
invaluable lesson on how adults handle mistakes and how they should handle them too.
*Fight FOR your kids, not against them.
Side Note: During this stage, have your child sit on your lap and read to them whenever possible. Find books that grab their interest and a comfy chair. Not only does it help them learn the discipline of sitting still, but it allows you to build a close physical and emotional bond between you and your child. Teaching your child to read will have great benefits when they start school. It’s a win, win, win situation.
The Training Stage, Ages 5-12
You’ll find many fond memories during this stage. Your children are pure and innocent and actual conversation will begin. They are hungry to learn. You become a filter through which their curiosity flows. During the Discipline Stage, we want to keep them safe inside the fences of boundaries. During the Training Stage, we shift by allowing them to go outside the fence from time to time.
Do Not Exasperate
In Ephesians 6:4 it says “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with lovingkindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Amplified)
How do we exasperate? It’s when we don’t discipline or train our children appropriately. For example, when we treat our child as if they were still in the Discipline Stage at ages 1-5 when they are now in the Training Stage for children 5-12. This can exasperate our children to a point of resentment.
Another way we exasperate our children is by comparing them to others. Never compare. Build them up in the uniqueness that God has created them to be.
Deuteronomy 6:5-7 says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Scripture leads us as parents to lead our children with love and patience. We are to help our children process the Training Stage as a positive part of their lives. We need to look for teachable moments in our everyday lives. This doesn’t have to be a negative thing.
Similar to Athletics
It’s similar to training in athletics. Athletes train in the little things first and build up to the actual game. The same with game of life. We want to train our children in the little things and build them up to become independent. We want to make it safe to fail so that they can learn and grow before releasing them into adulthood.
When we receive our children and start raising them, we need many boundaries around them during the Discipline Stage. But as they grow into the next stage, we need to slowly shift our strategy by giving them more responsibilities and freedom a little at a time. Once they graduate from high school, hopefully they should be ready to be released to be responsible to live on their own.
The Bible is Evergreen
We also need to teach how to have a vertical authentic relationship with Jesus. The Bible is evergreen. It’s like a tree that stays green all season long. the Bible is helpful at all times, ancient or modern. Horizontal relationships with others are good but a vertical relationship with God is best. Surrender to the vertical with your marriage and your children. Allow the vertical relationship with God to effect your horizontal relationships with your marriage and children.
Teaching spiritual things to our children is like establishing a college fund. We start early so that it can build up over time so when they leave home we have made an investment that will help them through college.
We also need to establish a spiritual fund for our children. We want to start early so that we can build up their faith over time so that when they leave home, we have built up an investment that hopefully will carry into adulthood.
Don’t Need to be Bible Scholars
As parents, we don’t need to be Bible scholars to be able to pass on spiritual truths. We do need to continue to grow in our faith as well as helping our children grown in their faith. During the Training Stage, don’t worry if your children won’t sit still during prayer time. God says that 'His word does not return void.' Keep this in mind even as it feels like you are not making any progress with your children in spiritual things.
Try to make spiritual training fun. There can be different ways to pass on spiritual truths. Some families may want to sit together as a group and discuss God’s truths but another family may look for teachable moments in everyday life to teach a spiritual truth. There is no right or wrong way to go about this.
For more information about The Coaching Stage for ages 12-18 and The Friendship Stage for ages 18+, please read ‘The 3 R’s to Parenting: Part 2’ by clicking ‘Here’.