When my first-born son was little, I never imagined the day would come where he’d be all grown up and his life would be his own. The nights rocking him, the days volunteering in his first grade classroom, and the countless nights driving him home from worship band practice never prepared me for this—a season I’m finding to be much harder than I realized.
I’m aware that the decisions he makes now, at nineteen, have far greater consequences than they did years ago. Years ago the decisions were small—what sport to do, what project to complete, which friend to call–but life has upped the ante. It’s no longer my job to tell him what to do, or impose rules and create consequences reinforcing responsibility. My role has shifted and instead I’m left to wonder, watch, and wait—to walk beside him, not ahead of him—and suggest the way to go only when he asks.

This reflective perspective has me pondering my parenting choices for my younger kids and longing to refine them.

We know by our experience, and we do what we know.

5 Parenting Strategies to Empower our Kids via The MOB Society

I’m longing to do what I know—to optimize my decisions now so my kids will optimize their decisions later.

In case you’re in the throes of baby and toddler care, or perhaps like me, still spinning in the whirl that is the school years, I humbly offer 5 ways I’m aiming to empower my boys for this adulthood, because whether it feels like it amidst these daily days or not, an adult season is coming sooner than we realize.

5 Parenting Strategies to Empower our Kids

1. Patiently let them learn to do for themselves

Oh how we miss the mark on this one. How many times do we pick up their things, make their peanut butter and jelly sandwhich, or just tell them the answer to their homework problem. Doing so is often faster, more efficient, and reaps a better result—for me. Unfortunately though, it creates children who are at best, somewhat dependent and inefficient, and at worst, ill-equipped, entitled, and lazy. May we harness our patience in these moments and let our kids learn to do things for themselves more than ever. Independence comes with practice, and stripping them of that practice fails to bring the qualities they’ll need for the future, even though it seems easier now.

2. Allow them to learn to fail

There is no way around it, learning to lose is hard, unavoidable, and none of us like to fail. It’s hurtful, humiliating and down right painful, but most often, pain is our best teacher and learning to lose can be more important than learning to win. Anyone can learn to win, but it is failure that helps us get over ourselves, cultivate humility and empathy, love more deeply, and appreciate what we have so much more.

3. Embrace consequences as the most loving choice

I am often tempted to give grace, so much grace. And many of us overlook too many offenses or even swoop in and try to save our kids from pain. While doing this in the short term can feel loving, in the long term it causes adults who grow to believe they should never experience consequences anywhere in their lives. Excessive permissiveness is an inaccurate portrayal of the real world. Instead, allowing natural consequences, in the context of the safety net of our love, will help our kids handle the inevitable natural consequences adulthood will bring.

4. Give them weekly home responsibilities for work

When we provide responsibilities for our kids at home they develop more ownership and become more invested as part of the family team. Working together with others and cooperating for a common benefit are essential life skills that help kids have a greater gratitude when something is done for them.

5. Extend at least three physical touches every day

From the very first moments we hold our children, it’s crucial to recognize the importance of our touch and to continue to value it. Every day may we hug them, hold hands with them, rub their backs, massage their feet, or scratch their head. May we touch them frequently and consistently, and even more so the taller they are.

We know by our experience, and we do what we know.

And this experience of affection between a mom and her son sets the foundation for his future relationships, and can be one of the greatest gifts we can give. With the experience of physical connection, our sons feel affirmed and empowered, and touch becomes second nature to them–with the potential for it to become a natural part of their role as husbands and fathers one day. And what an amazing gift for them to offer to those they love.


Suggested Resources:

Parenting with Love and Logic, by Foster Cline & Jim Fay

Parenting Teens with Love and Logic, by Foster Cline & Jim Fay

Parenting the Whole Hearted Child, by Jeannie Cunnion

Grace Based Parenting, by Tim Kimmel


Jacque Watkins is a podcaster of Mud Stories, mercy lover, and champion of second chances, who’s been found by God’s mercy, and  knows His mercy can find you too.