In the last article we wrote on parenting, we reminded you that "parenting challenges ARE marriage challenges." This statement could not be more accurate. 

Be sure to read our FIRST article on parenting here

In this parenting article, we will give you some more tools to help you with effective, healthy parenting.


Many of the couples we have worked with over the years have heard us say things like, "Yes, you should talk to your kids about the benefits and consequences of their choices; just make sure it's age-appropriate." Or, "Yes, you should talk to your kids about sex; just make sure it's age-appropriate." What we are referring to here is that each kid will have a different maturity level, and when you can learn to plug into their maturity level, you are making sure that your conversations with your child are age-appropriate. If your 15-year-old and your 4-year-old ask you how babies are made, you SHOULD give two very different, age-appropriate answers. Most of us sort of know this idea makes sense but we are often not  as intentional with it as we should be. Therefore, just about everything you do with your kids should be in the context of what is age-appropriate.

There are four well-recognized stages that every parent goes through with their children. And how well parents adjust to each of these four phases will determine a fair amount of their success as parents. Each of these four phases is based on the maturity level of each child, but is generally best understood in terms of age ranges.

    • You are their COMMANDER until around age five. You tell them everything they must do for their own good!

    • You are their COACH until around age twelve. You are trying to help them to understand life's choices, full of benefits and consequences, and learn to choose well.

    • You are their COUNSELOR until around age 18-20, during this time you are pressing your children to become more and more independent.

    • After that, you are their CONSULTANT as you shift to maintaining a relationship that leaves you available to help, answer questions, and give guidance when it is sought. 

Like King Solomon who said, “Be wise, my son, and bring joy to my heart” (Proverbs 27:11), a parent who acknowledges and navigates these phases well will also experience the most joy in parenting.


We love the idea that benefits and consequences for kids are tied into real life in tangible ways and that kids are allowed to make some mistakes when the cost is still small for them. Pay attention here parents, your kids should be allowed to make some mistakes; this is how God has wired us to learn and grow. Once our kids grow into adulthood, any mistakes they make will have a much bigger cost.

We love the Love & Logic approach because we feel that it aligns with so much of the child-raising wisdom in the Proverbs, while steering clear of ineffective tendencies toward "Gentle Parenting." Gentle parenting claims to stay away from "punishment" of children, but what they refer to as punishment, Tami and I would refer to as appropriate consequences for their choices. As an example, when your child is an adult and gets fired for stealing something from their place of employment, do you want that adult child of yours to view their firing as a legitimate consequence of their poor behavior, or to believe they are the victim of unfair punishment?

A few Proverbs on parenting:

PROVERBS 6:20 "My son, obey your father’s commands, and don’t neglect your mother’s instruction."

PROVERBS 13:24 "Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them."

PROVERBS 19:18 "Discipline your children while there is hope. Otherwise you will ruin their lives."


It seems so obvious to state that "husbands and wives are different," but we work with couples all the time who neglect to acknowledge their differences and where those differences come from, and instead end up arguing with each other about those differences or trying to get their spouse to agree with their views on life and parenting. These approaches are not helpful.

Instead, learn to acknowledge your differences. Some of those differences are because you were raised by different families. Some of them are because you are male and female. And some of them are because God made each of your unique. We would suggest that God intended there to be a balance in these differences; a coming together of differing ideas, values, and skills for the benefit of your children. Learning to work together as a team at this level is no easy feat, and yet that is precisely what you must do to prepare yourselves for the critical task of raising God-honoring, well-adjusted, responsible humans.


How will you know if all of this is working well and for the actual benefit of your kids? That is a great question! First and foremost, be sure that you and your spouse on are the same page enough of the time that neither one of you feels a great deal of friction from what you are doing together. Doing the right thing is rarely easy, but don't confuse any hard work that you are doing together with friction between you and your spouse. Therefore, keep fine-tuning your parenting tactics and ideas, but check in with each other often to make sure things don't get too far out of whack.


Parenting is not for sissies (haha!); effective parenting requires hard and intentional work. But if you work to raise your kids with intention, as opposed to merely getting through another day, you will have the best chance at success in your parenting. This article should result is some great conversation between a mom and a dad, but allow us to give you some discussion questions to help get things started.


1. Do we usually address our children in age appropriate ways or is that a new concept for us?

2. Think about "the Four C's" mentioned above. Talk about each child you have and which stage they are currently in.

3. As a husband and wife, man and woman, you are different. Talk about the differences you have that show up in your parenting. Find areas of compromise for the sake of your kids (and your sanity as well).

4. Do you ever expect parenting to be easy? Why of why not?

Did you know that this website features some of our favorite parenting books?

See the list of parenting books


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By Brad & Tami Miller. Copyright © 2024 

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