I remember the days when we drove the old, red van with our kids buckled in the back seats. Loads of cheerios were neatly tucked between car seats. An unidentified brown stain stared up at Susan and me from the back carpet where our son’s soccer cleats laid for a week. Then there was the stench of a long forgotten chicken nugget smashed beneath the car seat. When you’re parents of five kids, cars never stay clean for long. However, you do get over the mess a little more quickly when you look at their cute, smiling faces and remember how secure it feels to have control over where your kids go and what your kids do.
Of course, none of us is ever ultimately in control of our lives or our kids. Only God is. But we do have some control over how we parent our children. When our children are younger, we are more “in control” of them. But as they grow older, we move to being a more “out of control” parent. By this, I mean it’s important to slowly let go of the steering wheel and transfer that control and decision making to your child as they grow. Be sure your kids are prepared to handle life wisely by moving from an “in control” parent to an “out of control” parent by taking these 3 simple steps.
1. You Drive.
When your kids are young, it’s easy to keep them buckled up safely in the back seat. You protect them, you lead them, and you care for them. They have complete trust that you will get them where they need to go because you are in control. This is the time when you can teach them to use good manners, dress properly, seek out like-minded friends, listen to good music, and watch good movies.
2. You Ride Shotgun.
The moment your teenager gets their learner’s permit, they’ll jump in the car so quickly you won’t know what hit you. But since they can only drive with you riding next to them, I encourage you to use this time, and the young teenage years leading up to it, wisely and teach them what it means to drive through life safely, productively, and honorably. Statistics show that the greatest chance of crashing occurs within the first six months of driving. Of course, you don’t want them to crash the car, but don’t be afraid to watch them make some mistakes that will help them learn. It’s better for them to make the mistakes when you’re riding shotgun than when they’re driving through life on their own.
3. You Give Them the Keys.
After some time riding shotgun, you should be able to determine your child’s maturity level, ability to accept responsibility and track record of adhering to your rules. If they’ve passed this test, you may determine that they are ready for the keys. That means they may get more privileges like having a later curfew and doing more things with friends on their own. Of course, you’ll never feel completely at ease, but it’s good to give them more keys to control while they’re still under your roof. That way, you can still coach them closely before they go to college or work.
Train your children up well so that you’ll have confidence moving from an “in control” parent to an “out of control” parent. Make the most of the moments you have driving and riding shotgun with your kids, and then enjoy watching them drive through life with their own set of keys.
Train your children up well so that you’ll have confidence moving from an “in control” parent to an “out of control” parent.
What are some things you’ve done to go from being an in control to an out of control parent? Please share your thoughts below.