Four Seasons of Child Rearing: The Empty Nest Season

There are four seasons of child rearing according to John Rosemond, author of Parenting by the Book. A child’s successful transition into adulthood requires different parenting responsibilities in each season.

Photo courtesy iStockphoto/Walkinboston

Photo courtesy iStockphoto/Walkinboston

Most people recognize the last season as the ’empty nest’ season.  John Rosemond calls this last season the ‘Season of Friendship.’  It’s the season Monica and I are in today and the transition was challenging.  We are still learning to refocus our parenting energies into this new season and treating our children like the adults they are.

Recognizing the different seasons and different responsibilities can help parents avoid stress and keep a farsighted view.  In this and the next few posts, we’ll describe the four seasons of child rearing, some of our own experiences and how Biblical wisdom can help parents understand their role and the goal for their child in each one.

The ‘Season of Service’ is generally birth to 2 years, where parents are ‘servants’ to their child meeting all her needs.  The Season of Service gives way, usually under the child’s protests, to the ‘Season of Leadership and Authority.’  During this transition, children learn they are not the center of the universe and learn to submit to parents authority.  Season two generally lasts 10 years where the child learns to be responsible for herself.

Next is the Season of Mentorship where parents help their teenage children learn skills that will help them be successful adults.  The teenage years can be a challenging season and can require the most farsighted focus for parents.   It’s in this season where parents really help prepare children for adulthood and the Season of Friendship — the Empty Nest season.

Here’s a summary of the seasons and parenting goals from ‘Parenting by the Book.’

Season Age of Child Parent Role Parenting Goal
Service Birth – 2 Servant Secure Child
Leadership 3-13 Authority Self-governing child
Mentoring 13 – 18 or 21 Mentor Emancipated child
Friendship Emancipation Friend, counsel Good friend to child

Over the next few posts, we’ll discuss the different seasons of child rearing and our experiences.  Those posts are listed below.

Question:  Which season are you in with your child?  Are you having trouble transitioning to the next season?  Have you successfully transitioned your child? Please share your comments here.