This article is Part 4 of the four seasons of child rearing.
The third season of child rearing is the ‘Season of Mentoring,’ historically marked with traditional rites of passage like Catholic Confirmation or the Jewish bar and bat mitzvahs. From 13 years to 18 years, children and parents rate this season as one of the more stressful times of parenting.
According to John Rosemond, author of Parenting by the Book, a child enters this season to learn the life skills that will help him live successfully on his own. During this season farsighted parents become ‘mentors’ to their teenagers to help them learn the practical skills to apply and work at a job, budget their money, learn study skills and plan for their future.
For Monica and me, parenting our teenage children included many positive times of ‘mentoring.’ A fond memory for us was helping our children pursue their first jobs. Our daughters worked as babysitters and later at a local bakery. Our son was a freelance computer consultant and had an ebay computer parts business.However, the idea of work didn’t come easily (does it to anyone?) without a goal. Monica and I bought a used car that all our kids drove and passed down to each other during their high school years. Knowing that each one would pass down the car to the next sibling, they were motivated to save for their own car, which we had agreed to fund up to 50% of the total cost. The rest of the money they had to earn and save from working through high school.
There were also volunteer jobs and mentors at church and school. Nathan practiced sound and lighting and video production at church and school, skills that have become part of his current vocation. Our daughters joined and led choral groups and high school bible studies. Their volunteer efforts developed positive life skills and their jobs provided enough savings to have good choices in used cars when they were ready to buy.
Of course, we often found ourselves stuck in the ‘season of leadership and authority.’ The basic life skills of picking up their clothes, doing their own laundry and putting their clothes away were often lacking. This failure could be a genetic trait from me (Jack) since I never had this job while I lived at home, which I’m embarrassed to say. Monica on the other hand did learn this skill as a child and taught our children early and consistently. It just didn’t stick and Nathan our son was the biggest offender.
Fortunately, consistent leadership was eventually rewarded. During our son’s first year away at college, Monica got a surprising call. Nathan was at Walmart buying dish washing soap. He called to tell his mother he was sorry. He was frustrated with his roommates lack of responsibility in washing and putting away their own dishes and realized Monica must have felt the same way at his lack of responsibility when he lived at home. We felt vindicated!
Of course, we hope your children learn and practice key life skills while they are still at home. However, if that’s not the case, stay the course and stay consistent in your authority and leadership in spite of the behavior. You may have late bloomers like we did!
You can read more about the four seasons of child rearing and Monica and my experiences in the posts below:
- ‘Four Seasons of Child Rearing: The Empty Nest Season.’
- Four Seasons of Child Rearing: The Season of Service
- Four Seasons of Child Rearing: The Season of Authority and Leadership
Question: How have you mentored your children during the high school years and kept a ‘farsighted parent’ view? Please share your comments here.