Stage 4 - Denial
Stage 4 is all about trying to understand your relationship with your child. To build a better union, a bond, a spiritual connection with someone who you want to be best friends with for life. However...there are hormones in the way!
Stage 4 starts around 11 years old and if you play your cards right, ends sometime around 21 or 22, just as they finish college or head out to live on their own and assert their independence. Sadly, they start asserting the independence around 11 or 12, and achieve it TEN years later. This process will take a toll on mothers and fathers alike. We might live in constant denial that this child is really related to us! We pull into our drive ways fantasizing about the years when we walk in the door to giddy pre-schoolers waiting to throw their arms around us with joy, after not seeing us for the whole day, or upon being picked up from daycare. Fast forward 10 or 12 years, and we start wondering how this child could have any of us inside them? Did I truly raise this child, or is this a scene from a SciFi movie where they have replaced our loving child with an apathetic, ungrateful, and dismissive replica? Sincerely, you cannot console a parent of a teenager. It is an experience that challenges us to our core, and you can only understand it if you have been there. The spiritual challenge in this stage is to know it is coming, to understand it is hormones talking, and not your beautiful ballerina. It is consistency in chores, rules, and family values that will pull us through. It is giving yourself permission to not like your child during this stage, but continue protecting the cocoon they are in, for certainly with love, support, encouragement and proper boundaries, an amazingly transformed butterfly will emerge. We must remember it happened to us, and they will get through it too, albeit with some battle scars, but most of us survive.
Stage 5 - Letting Go
This stage is reminiscent of that first day at kindergarten, first grade, or pre-school. A day we all remember, leaving our child alone, in someone else's care for the whole day, for the first time. This stage is about faith. It happens sometime between 18 and 25 years of age. We see our child truly achieve independence, both financial, and physical. We see them involve themselves in relationships that remind us of our own mistakes, relationships that are sure to crash and burn, yet we bite our tongue. Many times we see our child become a parent as well. We feel our job is not done, and they are now starting to do our job as well? We know they should have opted for the used sedan, instead of the pricey sports car, or had our little angel grandson taken to the pediatrician at the first sign of a small rash around their body. But instead here we grow a little more, both as parents and as humans. We learn the true meaning of the saying "Advice is seldom ask for, and less often heeded". It is the spiritual stage of loving with all our heart, and placing all faith on the work we have already done, on Life, Spirit, God, or Nature to let things work out for the best interest of all parties involved. We are not done with our job, yet we are now playing a new role. This stage reminds me of the scenes in the old Kung Fu series when the young boy would go see his Master for advice. The boy would bring his concerns, his questions about life, and humans, and the Master would always be there. Ready to help with the wisdom of age and experience. The Master did not follow around the boy, did not go out to ensure his advice was followed, and did not obsess about the boy in any way, but instead trusted that his words and advice would carry the boy, his disciple, to his own destiny. In the same way, we must trust. We must have faith. This spiritual stage helps us grow beyond any other, as we too, become the wise old parent, and hopefully we will get to see our disciples grow in the same way.
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