How to Raise Responsible Kids
One of the our personal parenting goals is to raise our children to be successful adults. This will not magically occur without us giving up some of our control, allowing our children to gain more freedom and responsibility. Easier said than done! Thankfully Timothy Smith created this Countdown to Independence Chart to help steer parents in the right direction.
Promoting Responsibility and Encouraging Self-Help
The Countdown to Independence for Kids chart (below), shows how parents move from total control to less control over the 18 years of a child’s life.
Read the chart this way: Percentage of control across the top, ages birth – 18 at the bottom.
The line in the middle shows how we have total control when our kids are born and that it slowly moves to 0% control by age 18.
From The Danger of Raising Nice Kids by Timothy Smith (IVP, (c) Timothy Smith 2006) Used with permission.
Change in Parental Responsibility
Parents move from Control to… Coach to… Consultant over the 18 years of a child’s life.
Parents’ Domain: Protect, Prepare, Control > Influence
Child’s Domain: Freedom and Responsibility
The Coaching Years of Parenting
I’ve often said that the Elementary School years are the “sweet spot” of parenting. You’re done with the preschool years (where you have semi control still) and are now in the coaching years.
If you have a 9 year old it puts you smack in the middle of this chart. At age 9 you are now “Coaching” your child, you have less control over them and they are making more decisions on their own, sometimes without you.
Basically – kids do more, so we do less.
Using The Countdown to Independence Chart
Personally, I’ve looked at this chart off and on for 8 years. I now have teenagers and can see the loss of control over time.
In my mind, I’m still a coach… but I’m sure my kids would tell you a different story! I don’t mourn my loss of control, I celebrate their new independence and skills they are learning.
I don’t like that I have less influence over their lives, but I just keep pretending I do. I also look for other mentors and adults for them to listen to. To my kids, my ideas might not sound great, but when someone else says them to my teenager they become gold!
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