Training Your Child to Leave


From their birth until they’re about one year, as their dad, you are pretty pointless, especially if your child is breastfeeding. At least that’s how I felt. You can change diapers and that’s about it. But then your role begins to shift. As your child grows, you and your wife become a team of disciplinarians. You’re teaching your child to obey authority. The hope, of course, is that if they learn to obey your authority, then they will learn to submit to a heavenly authority.

Now that my girls are getting older my role is shifting again. Peyton, my oldest, doesn’t need me like she used to. She doesn’t need me to make her lunch in the morning, because she can do that. She doesn’t need me to wake her up in the morning for school, because she can do that. She doesn’t need a disciplinarian; what she needs is a coach. I encourage her. I direct her. But it’s very different than what it used to be. Though there are still parental boundaries, I’m not micromanaging like I used to. I’m still actively involved in directing her path, but in a very different way.

As parents, our roles are constantly changing. They need to change, because we’re training our children to leave. They aren’t ours to begin with; they are ours to steward and train up.

Sooner than I’d like, my role will shift again. My daughters will need less coaching and I’ll become a mentor who is there if and when they need me – likely one of many mentors in their lives that serve as a go-to when necessary. But they will be driving their lives, they will be the ones making decisions and I have to get them ready for that.

Brad Bell

Brad Bell

Founding pastor of The Well Community Church, international speaker, and author of Walking With A Limp.

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