While the ‘Teacher’ season of fathering, roughly the first ten years of a child’s life, may seem like it goes on forever, the ‘Coach’ season blasts by. All of a sudden, the teenager is in his twenties and telling you that he has made a decision about attending college, joining the military, or moving in with his girlfriend. No questions, no request for advice, just a matter-of-fact statement. Welcome to the ‘Counselor’ season!
The second ten years of a child’s life is what I refer to as the ‘Coach’ season of fathering. It is a time of letting the reins out a bit, knowing there will be some attitude and even bad decisions that will have consequences. Dad is engaged in coaching a child through the successes and failures associated with this season be they in school, extra-curricular activities or relationships. The Lord is at work through these experiences to shape the young adult child for the next chapter of life. Then the next chapter arrives!
Calling the Twelve to Him, He began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. – Mark 6:7. After a season of teaching and leading by example in His ministry, Jesus equipped the disciples for success but understood there would be failure. He let the reins out for them to experience what they needed to experience for the work they were going to carry on. “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name, which You have given Me; and I guarded them, and not one of them perished except the son of destruction, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. But now I am coming to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. … Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. Just as You sent Me into the world, I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, so that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I am not asking on behalf of these alone, but also for those who believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one; just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” – John 17:12-13, 17-21. Jesus prayed to the Father for His disciples in the world. He also prayed for His disciples’ disciples, confident they would pass the baton of faith as He had to them. As dads, the call is the same, to teach and coach our kids well. Then prayerfully pass the baton of faith to the next generation. The word for the ‘Teacher’ season is intentionality; for the ‘Coach’ season it is engagement; and, for the ‘Counselor’ season, it is availability. The charge to dads is to be available physically and spiritually when an adult child calls.
Tips for the Coach to Counselor Transition:
- Visibly reflect Christ’s love for His Church in marriage every day;
- Read the gospel of John to understand Jesus' relationship with His Father;
- Stay available, schedule a periodic activity or lunch with adult children;
- Provide faith-related encouragement and let go in love;
- Read our latest release, Seasons of Fathering, with a couple of battle buddies.
Prayer guide: Thank You Lord for Your word and the example of Your relationship with the Father. I confess that I thought I could put fathering in a box and “do dad” by providing financially and correcting the kids when necessary. Forgive me. I now understand I am to “be a faithful father” by being intentional early-on in the ‘Teacher’ season; engaged during the ‘Coach’ season; and, available for adult children through the ‘Counselor’ season. Help me point to You and glorify You through each season. That is the dad You call me to be and that’s the dad my kids need to see. Amen.
A faithful father is intentional, engaged and available across the seasons.